Cynthia S Dowd

George Washington University, Washington, Washington, D.C., United States

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Publications (28)127 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Despite the availability of conventional chemotherapy, many patients suffering from tuberculosis (TB) in sub-Saharan Africa continue to depend on traditional medicines to treat their diseases. In this study we interviewed 73 practitioners of traditional medicine (TMPs) from all seven major ecological zones throughout Nigeria and obtained 86 samples of remedies (ETMs) they utilized to treat TB. These remedies were primarily plant-based and subsequent collection of type specimens was used to identify and corroborate the plant species used by the TMPs for their respective ETMs. Extraction of the ETMs followed by determination of the minimum inhibitory concentration against Mycobacterium tuberculosis revealed that 69% (anti-BCG screen) and 64% (anti-M. tb.) of these extracts displayed antitubercular activity in vitro with 22%(BCG) and 15% (M. tb.) having a potent inhibitory effect at <500 µg/ml as crude extracts. These results support the utility of traditional remedies for TB management. Subsequent isolation and identification of the active principles, may provide useful starting points for the development of new antitubercular agents.
    Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Fourteen new fosmidomycin analogues with altered metal chelating groups were prepared and evaluated for inhibition of E. coli Dxr, M. tuberculosis Dxr and the growth of P. falciparum K1 in human erythrocytes. None of the synthesized compounds showed activity against either enzyme or the Plasmodia. This study further underlines the importance of the hydroxamate functionality and illustrates that identifying effective alternative bidentate ligands for this target enzyme is challenging.
    Molecules 01/2014; 19(2):2571-87. · 2.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway found in many bacteria governs the synthesis of isoprenoids, which are crucial lipid precursors for vital cell components such as ubiquinone. Because mammals synthesize isoprenoids via an alternate pathway, the bacterial MEP pathway is an attractive target for novel antibiotic development, necessitated by emerging antibiotic resistance as well as biodefense concerns. The first committed step in the MEP pathway is the reduction and isomerization of 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate (DXP) to methylerythritol phosphate (MEP), catalyzed by MEP synthase. To facilitate drug development, we cloned, expressed, purified, and characterized MEP synthase from Yersinia pestis. Enzyme assays indicate apparent kinetic constants of KMDXP = 252 µM and KMNADPH = 13 µM, IC50 values for fosmidomycin and FR900098 of 710 nM and 231 nM respectively, and Ki values for fosmidomycin and FR900098 of 251 nM and 101 nM respectively. To ascertain if the Y. pestis MEP synthase was amenable to a high-throughput screening campaign, the Z-factor was determined (0.9) then the purified enzyme was screened against a pilot scale library containing rationally designed fosmidomycin analogs and natural product extracts. Several hit molecules were obtained, most notably a natural product allosteric affector of MEP synthase and a rationally designed bisubstrate derivative of FR900098 (able to associate with both the NADPH and DXP binding sites in MEP synthase). It is particularly noteworthy that allosteric regulation of MEP synthase has not been described previously. Thus, our discovery implicates an alternative site (and new chemical space) for rational drug development.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(8):e106243. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Inhibition of the nonmevalonate pathway (NMP) of isoprene biosynthesis has been examined as a source of new antibiotics with novel mechanisms of action. Dxr is the best studied of the NMP enzymes and several reports have described potent Dxr inhibitors. Many of these compounds are structurally related to natural products fosmidomycin and FR900098, each bearing retrohydroxamate and phosphonate groups. We synthesized a series of compounds with two to five methylene units separating these groups to examine what linker length was optimal and tested for inhibition against Mtb Dxr. We synthesized ethyl and pivaloyl esters of these compounds to increase lipophilicity and improve inhibition of Mtb growth. Our results show that propyl or propenyl linker chains are optimal. Propenyl analog 22 has an IC50 of 1.07μM against Mtb Dxr. The pivaloyl ester of 22, compound 26, has an MIC of 9.4μg/mL, representing a significant improvement in antitubercular potency in this class of compounds.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters 12/2013; · 2.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In most bacteria, the nonmevalonate pathway is used to synthesize isoprene units. Dxr, the second step in the pathway, catalyzes the NADPH-dependent reductive isomerization of 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate (DXP) to 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol-4-phosphate (MEP). Dxr is inhibited by natural products fosmidomycin and FR900098, which bind in the DXP binding site. These compounds, while potent inhibitors of Dxr, lack whole cell activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) due to their polarity. Our goal was to use the Mtb Dxr-fosmidomycin co-crystal structure to design bisubstrate ligands to bind to both the DXP and NADPH sites. Such compounds would be expected to demonstrate improved whole cell activity due to increased lipophilicity. Two series of compounds were designed and synthesized. Compounds from both series inhibited Mtb Dxr. The most potent compound (8) has an IC50 of 17.8 µM. Analysis shows 8 binds to Mtb Dxr via a novel, non-bisubstrate mechanism. Further, the diethyl ester of 8 inhibits Mtb growth making this class of compounds interesting lead molecules in the search for new antitubercular agents.
    Medicinal Chemistry Communication 07/2013; 4(7):1099-1104. · 2.72 Impact Factor
  • Emily R Jackson, Cynthia S Dowd
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    ABSTRACT: Isoprene biosynthesis is an essential component of metabolism. Two pathways are known for the production of five-carbon (isoprene) intermediates: the mevalonate and nonmevalonate pathways. As many pathogenic organisms rely exclusively on the nonmevalonate pathway (NMP) for isoprenoids and humans do not, the enzymes of this route have been recently explored as new therapeutic targets. The second and first-committed step in the NMP is catalyzed by 1-deoxy-Dxylulose- 5-phosphate reductoisomerase (Dxr) and has received significant attention as a novel drug target. This review describes the biochemistry and crystal structures of Dxr and the synthesis and biological activity of inhibitors to date, with a focus on compounds targeting E. coli, Plasmodium, and M. tuberculosis enzymes and intact cells. Most inhibitors for Dxr use natural products fosmidomycin and FR900098 as starting points. The review discusses several families of fosmidomycinrelated analogs including α-substituted, 'reverse' and modified hydroxamate, spacer-modified, and hydroxy-amide analogs. Also discussed are non-fosmidomycin-like inhibitors, the aryl phosphonates, and lipophilic prodrugs of fosmidomycin and FR900098 designed to increase cell penetration. A comprehensive SAR of inhibitors is presented.
    Current topics in medicinal chemistry 01/2012; 12(7):706-28. · 4.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The bicyclic 4-nitroimidazoles PA-824 and OPC-67683 represent a promising novel class of therapeutics for tuberculosis and are currently in phase II clinical development. Both compounds are pro-drugs that are reductively activated by a deazaflavin (F(420)) dependent nitroreductase (Ddn). Herein we describe the biochemical properties of Ddn including the optimal enzymatic turnover conditions and substrate specificity. The preference of the enzyme for the (S) isomer of PA-824 over the (R) isomer is directed by the presence of a long hydrophobic tail. Nitroimidazo-oxazoles bearing only short alkyl substituents at the C-7 position of the oxazole were reduced by Ddn without any stereochemical preference. However, with bulkier substitutions on the tail of the oxazole, Ddn displayed stereospecificity. Ddn mediated metabolism of PA-824 results in the release of reactive nitrogen species. We have employed a direct chemiluminescence based nitric oxide (NO) detection assay to measure the kinetics of NO production by Ddn. Binding affinity of PA-824 to Ddn was monitored through intrinsic fluorescence quenching of the protein facilitating a turnover-independent assessment of affinity. Our results indicate that (R)-PA-824, despite not being turned over by Ddn, binds to the enzyme with the same affinity as the active (S) isomer. This result, in combination with docking studies in the active site, suggests that the (R) isomer probably has a different binding mode than the (S) with the C-3 of the imidazole ring orienting in a non-productive position with respect to the incoming hydride from F(420). The results presented provide insight into the biochemical mechanism of reduction and elucidate structural features important for understanding substrate binding.
    FEBS Journal 01/2012; 279(1):113-25. · 4.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bacteria, plants, and algae produce isoprenoids through the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway, an attractive pathway for antimicrobial drug development as it is present in prokaryotes and some lower eukaryotes but absent from human cells. The first committed step of the MEP pathway is catalyzed by 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR/MEP synthase). MEP pathway genes have been identified in many biothreat agents, including Francisella, Brucella, Bacillus, Burkholderia, and Yersinia. The importance of the MEP pathway to Francisella is demonstrated by the fact that MEP pathway mutations are lethal. We have previously established that fosmidomycin inhibits purified MEP synthase (DXR) from F. tularensis LVS. FR900098, the acetyl derivative of fosmidomycin, was found to inhibit the activity of purified DXR from F. tularensis LVS (IC(50) = 230 nM). Fosmidomycin and FR900098 are effective against purified DXR from Mycobacterium tuberculosis as well, but have no effect on whole cells because the compounds are too polar to penetrate the thick cell wall. Fosmidomycin requires the GlpT transporter to enter cells, and this is absent in some pathogens, including M. tuberculosis. In this study, we have identified the GlpT homologs in F. novicida and tested transposon insertion mutants of glpT. We showed that FR900098 also requires GlpT for full activity against F. novicida. Thus, we synthesized several FR900098 prodrugs that have lipophilic groups to facilitate their passage through the bacterial cell wall and bypass the requirement for the GlpT transporter. One compound, that we termed "compound 1," was found to have GlpT-independent antimicrobial activity. We tested the ability of this best performing prodrug to inhibit F. novicida intracellular infection of eukaryotic cell lines and the caterpillar Galleria mellonella as an in vivo infection model. As a lipophilic GlpT-independent DXR inhibitor, compound 1 has the potential to be a broad-spectrum antibiotic, and should be effective against most MEP-dependent organisms.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(10):e38167. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The nonmevalonate pathway (NMP) of isoprene biosynthesis is an exciting new route toward novel antibiotic development. Inhibitors against several enzymes in this pathway are currently under examination. A significant liability of many of these agents is poor cell penetration. To overcome and improve our understanding of this problem, we have synthesized a series of lipophilic, prodrug analogs of fosmidomycin and FR900098, inhibitors of the NMP enzyme Dxr. Several of these compounds show improved antibacterial activity against a panel of organisms relative to the parent compound, including activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Our results show that this strategy can be an effective way for improving whole cell activity of NMP inhibitors.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters 12/2011; 21(23):6973-6. · 2.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nitroimidazole PA-824 is part of an exciting new class of compounds currently undergoing clinical evaluation as novel TB therapeutics. The recently elucidated mechanism of action of PA-824 involves reduction of the nitroimidazole ring and subsequent nitric oxide release. The importance of this compound and its unique activity prompted us to explore how substitution of the nitroimidazole ring would affect electrochemical reduction and antitubercular activity. We prepared analogs of PA-824 with bromo, chloro, cyano, and amino substituents in the 5-position of the aromatic ring. We found that substitution of the imidazole ring greatly influences reduction and the stability of the corresponding nitro radical anion. Further, the antitubercular activities of the bromo and chloro analogs may indicate that an alternate nitroreductase pathway within Mycobacterium tuberculosis exists.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters 01/2011; 21(2):812-7. · 2.65 Impact Factor
  • Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 10/2009; · 5.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: As part of a continued search for more efficient anti-HIV-1 drugs, we are focusing on the possibility that small molecules could efficiently inhibit HIV-1 replication through the restoration of p53 and p21WAF1 functions, which are inactivated by HIV-1 infection. Here we describe the molecular mechanism of 9-aminoacridine (9AA) mediated HIV-1 inhibition. 9AA treatment resulted in inhibition of HIV LTR transcription in a specific manner that was highly dependent on the presence and location of the amino moiety. Importantly, virus replication was found to be inhibited in HIV-1 infected cell lines by 9AA in a dose-dependent manner without inhibiting cellular proliferation or inducing cell death. 9AA inhibited viral replication in both p53 wildtype and p53 mutant cells, indicating that there is another p53 independent factor that was critical for HIV inhibition. p21WAF1 is an ideal candidate as p21WAF1 levels were increased in both p53 wildtype and p53 mutant cells, and p21WAF1 was found to be phosphorylated at S146, an event previously shown to increase its stability. Furthermore, we observed p21WAF1 in complex with cyclin T1 and cdk9 in vitro, suggesting a direct role of p21WAF1 in HIV transcription inhibition. Finally, 9AA treatment resulted in loss of cdk9 from the viral promoter, providing one possible mechanism of transcriptional inhibition. Thus, 9AA treatment was highly efficient at reactivating the p53 - p21WAF1 pathway and consequently inhibiting HIV replication and transcription.
    Virology Journal 08/2009; 6:114. · 2.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The 4-nitroimidazole PA-824 is active against aerobic and anaerobic Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) while 5-nitroimidazoles like metronidazole are active against only anaerobic Mtb. We have synthesized analogues of both 4- and 5-nitroimidazoles and explored their antitubercular activities. The nitro group is required for both activities in all compounds. The key determinants of aerobic activity in the 4-nitroimidazoles include the bicyclic oxazine, the lipophilic tail, and the 2-position oxygen. For the 5-nitroimidazoles, neither the corresponding bicyclic analogue nor addition of a lipophilic tail conveyed aerobic activity. Incorporation of a 2-position oxygen atom into a rigid 5-nitroimidazooxazine provided the first 5-nitroimidazole with aerobic activity. Across both series, anaerobic and aerobic activities were not correlated and Mtb mutants lacking the deazaflavin-dependent nitroreductase (Ddn) retained anaerobic sensitivity to some compounds. Aerobic activity appears to be correlated with efficiency as a substrate for Ddn, suggesting a means of structure-based optimization of improved nitroimidazoles.
    Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 03/2009; 52(5):1317-28. · 5.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The (S)-2-nitro-6-substituted 6,7-dihydro-5H-imidazo[2,1-b][1,3]oxazines have been extensively explored for their potential use as new antituberculars based on their excellent bactericidal properties on aerobic whole cells of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. An oxygen atom at the 2-position of the imidazole ring is required for aerobic activity. Here, we show that substitution of this oxygen by either nitrogen or sulfur yielded equipotent analogues. Acylating the amino series, oxidizing the thioether, or replacing the ether oxygen with carbon significantly reduced the potency of the compounds. Replacement of the benzylic oxygen at the 6-position by nitrogen slightly improved potency and facilitated exploration of the SAR in the more soluble 6-amino series. Significant improvements in potency were realized by extending the linker region between the 6-(S) position and the terminal hydrophobic aromatic substituent. A simple four-feature QSAR model was derived to rationalize MIC results in this series of bicyclic nitroimidazoles.
    Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 03/2009; 52(5):1329-44. · 5.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bicyclic nitroimidazoles, including PA-824, are exciting candidates for the treatment of tuberculosis. These prodrugs require intracellular activation for their biological function. We found that Rv3547 is a deazaflavin-dependent nitroreductase (Ddn) that converts PA-824 into three primary metabolites; the major one is the corresponding des-nitroimidazole (des-nitro). When derivatives of PA-824 were used, the amount of des-nitro metabolite formed was highly correlated with anaerobic killing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Des-nitro metabolite formation generated reactive nitrogen species, including nitric oxide (NO), which are the major effectors of the anaerobic activity of these compounds. Furthermore, NO scavengers protected the bacilli from the lethal effects of the drug. Thus, these compounds may act as intracellular NO donors and could augment a killing mechanism intrinsic to the innate immune system.
    Science 12/2008; 322(5906):1392-5. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Despite the presence of genes that apparently encode NAD salvage-specific enzymes in its genome, it has been previously thought that Mycobacterium tuberculosis can only synthesize NAD de novo. Transcriptional analysis of the de novo synthesis and putative salvage pathway genes revealed an up-regulation of the salvage pathway genes in vivo and in vitro under conditions of hypoxia. [14C]Nicotinamide incorporation assays in M. tuberculosis isolated directly from the lungs of infected mice or from infected macrophages revealed that incorporation of exogenous nicotinamide was very efficient in in vivo-adapted cells, in contrast to cells grown aerobically in vitro. Two putative nicotinic acid phosphoribosyltransferases, PncB1 (Rv1330c) and PncB2 (Rv0573c), were examined by a combination of in vitro enzymatic activity assays and allelic exchange studies. These studies revealed that both play a role in cofactor salvage. Mutants in the de novo pathway died upon removal of exogenous nicotinamide during active replication in vitro. Cell death is induced by both cofactor starvation and disruption of cellular redox homeostasis as electron transport is impaired by limiting NAD. Inhibitors of NAD synthetase, an essential enzyme common to both recycling and de novo synthesis pathways, displayed the same bactericidal effect as sudden NAD starvation of the de novo pathway mutant in both actively growing and nonreplicating M. tuberculosis. These studies demonstrate the plasticity of the organism in maintaining NAD levels and establish that the two enzymes of the universal pathway are attractive chemotherapeutic targets for active as well as latent tuberculosis.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 08/2008; 283(28):19329-41. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nitroimidazoles such as PA-824 and OPC-67683 are currently in clinical development as members of a promising new class of therapeutics for tuberculosis. While the antitubercular activity of these compounds is high, they both suffer from poor water solubility thus complicating development. We determined the single crystal X-ray structure of PA-824 and found a close packing of the nitroimidazoles facilitated by a pseudoaxial conformation of the p-trifluoromethoxybenzyl ether. To attempt to disrupt this tight packing by destabilizing the axial preference of this side chain, we prepared the two diastereomers of the 7-methyl-nitroimidazo-oxazine. Determination of the crystal structure of the 7-(S)-methyl derivative (5, cis) revealed that the benzylic side chain remained pseudoaxial while the 7-(R)-methyl derivative (6, trans) adopted the desired pseudoequatorial conformation. Both derivatives displayed similar activities against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but neither showed improved aqueous solubility, suggesting that inherent lattice stability is not likely to be a major factor in limiting solubility. Conformational analysis revealed that all three compounds have similar energetically accessible conformations in solution. Additionally, these results suggest that the nitroreductase that initially recognizes PA-824 is somewhat insensitive to substitutions at the 7-position.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters 05/2008; 18(7):2256-62. · 2.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It has been demonstrated that the p53 pathway plays an important role in HIV-1 infection. Previous work from our lab has established a model demonstrating how p53 could become inactivated in HIV-1 infected cells through binding to Tat. Subsequently, p53 was inactivated and lost its ability to transactivate its downstream target gene p21/waf1. P21/waf1 is a well-known cdk inhibitor (CKI) that can lead to cell cycle arrest upon DNA damage. Most recently, the p21/waf1 function was further investigated as a molecular barrier for HIV-1 infection of stem cells. Therefore, we reason that the restoration of the p53 and p21/waf1 pathways could be a possible theraputical arsenal for combating HIV-1 infection. In this current study, we show that a small chemical molecule, 9-aminoacridine (9AA) at low concentrations, could efficiently reactivate p53 pathway and thereby restoring the p21/waf1 function. Further, we show that the 9AA could significantly inhibit virus replication in activated PBMCs, likely through a mechanism of inhibiting the viral replication machinery. A mechanism study reveals that the phosphorylated p53ser15 may be dissociated from binding to HIV-1 Tat protein, thereby activating the p21/waf1 gene. Finally, we also show that the 9AA-activated p21/waf1 is recruited to HIV-1 preintegration complex, through a mechanism yet to be elucidated.
    Virology Journal 02/2008; 5:41. · 2.09 Impact Factor
  • Helena I Boshoff, Cynthia S Dowd
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    ABSTRACT: Chemical genetics combines chemistry with biology as a means of exploring the function of unknown proteins or identifying the proteins responsible for a particular phenotype. Chemical genetics is thus a valuable tool in the identification of novel drug targets. This chapter describes the application of chemical genetics in traditional and systems-based approaches to drug target discovery and the tools/approaches that appear most promising for guiding future pharmaceutical development.
    Fortschritte der Arzneimittelforschung. Progress in drug research. Progrès des recherches pharmaceutiques 02/2007; 64:49, 51-77.
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    ABSTRACT: Leprosy responds very slowly to the current multidrug therapy, and hence there is a need for novel drugs with potent bactericidal activity. PA-824 is a 4-nitroimidazo-oxazine that is currently undergoing phase I clinical trials for the treatment of tuberculosis. The activity of PA-824 against Mycobacterium leprae was tested and compared with that of rifampin in axenic cultures, macrophages, and two different animal models. Our results conclusively demonstrate that PA-824 has no effect on the viability of M. leprae in all three models, consistent with the lack of the nitroimidazo-oxazine-specific nitroreductase, encoded by Rv3547 in the M. leprae genome, which is essential for activation of this molecule.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 11/2006; 50(10):3350-4. · 4.57 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

647 Citations
127.00 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2011–2014
    • George Washington University
      • Department of Chemistry
      Washington, Washington, D.C., United States
    • University of Chile
      • Facultad de Ciencias Químicas y Farmacéuticas
      Santiago, Region Metropolitana de Santiago, Chile
  • 2004–2014
    • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
      Maryland, United States
  • 2007–2008
    • National Institutes of Health
      • Laboratory of Clinical Infectious Diseases
      Bethesda, MD, United States
  • 2006
    • Louisiana State University
      Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States