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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 17, 2018

Asymmetric peptidomimetics containing L-tartaric acid core inhibit the aspartyl peptidase activity and growth of Leishmania amazonensis promastigotes

André L.S. Santos, Filipe P. Matteoli, Leandro S. Sangenito, Marta H. Branquinha, Bruno A. Cotrim and Gabriel O. Resende
From the journal Acta Parasitologica


Aspartyl-type peptidases are promising chemotherapeutic targets in protozoan parasites. In the present work, we identified an aspartyl peptidase activity from the soluble extract of Leishmania amazonensis promastigotes, which cleaved the fluorogenic peptide 7-methoxycoumarin-4-acetyl-Gly-Lys-Pro-Ile-Leu-Phe-Phe-Arg-Leu-Lys(DNP)-D-Arg-amide (cathepsin D substrate) under acidic pH conditions at 37°C, showing a KM of 0.58 μM and Vmax of 129.87 fluorescence arbitrary units/s mg protein. The leishmanial aspartyl peptidase activity was blocked by pepstatin A (IC50 = 6.8 μM) and diazo-acetyl-norleucinemetilester (IC50 = 10.2 μM), two classical aspartyl peptidase inhibitors. Subsequently, the effects of 6 asymmetric peptidomimetics, containing L-tartaric acid core, were tested on both aspartyl peptidase and growth of L. amazonensis promastigotes. The peptidomimetics named 88, 154 and 158 promoted a reduction of 50% on the leishmanial aspartyl peptidase activity at concentrations ranging from 40 to 85 μM, whereas the peptidomimetic 157 was by far the most effective, presenting IC50 of 0.04 μM. Furthermore, the peptidomimetics 157 and 154 reduced the parasite proliferation in a dose-dependent manner, displaying IC50 values of 33.7 and 44.5 μM, respectively. Collectively, the peptidomimetic 157 was the most efficient compound able to arrest both aspartyl peptidase activity and leishmanial proliferation, which raises excellent perspectives regarding its use against this human pathogenic protozoan.

  1. Funding: This work was supported by grants from Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo á Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES).

  2. Conflict of interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


The authors would like to thank Denise Rocha de Souza, who is supported by FAPERJ scholarship, for her technical assistance.


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Received: 2017-7-29
Revised: 2017-10-30
Accepted: 2017-11-10
Published Online: 2018-1-17
Published in Print: 2018-3-26

© 2018 W. Stefański Institute of Parasitology, PAS