Targeting the cytochrome bc1 complex of Leishmania parasites for discovery of novel drugs

Diana Ortiz, Isaac Forquer, Jan Boitz, Radika Soysa, Carolyn Elya, Audrey Fulwiler, Aaron Nilsen, Tamsen Polley, Michael K. Riscoe, Buddy Ullman, Scott M. Landfear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Endochin-like quinolones (ELQs) are potent and specific inhibitors of cytochrome bc1 from Plasmodium falciparum and Toxoplasma gondii and show promise for novel antiparasitic drug development. To determine whether the mitochondrial electron transport chain of Leishmania parasites could be targeted similarly for drug development, we investigated the activity of 134 structurally diverse ELQs. A cohort of ELQs was selectively toxic to amastigotes of Leishmania mexicana and L. donovani, with 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) in the low micromolar range, but the structurally similar hydroxynaphthoquinone buparvaquone was by far the most potent inhibitor of electron transport, ATP production, and intracellular amastigote growth. Cytochrome bc1 is thus a promising target for novel antileishmanial drugs, and further improvements on the buparvaquone scaffold are warranted for development of enhanced therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4972-4982
Number of pages11
JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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