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COP9 signalosome is an essential and druggable parasite target that regulates protein degradation

By Swagata Ghosh, Laura Farr, Aditya Singh, Laura-Ann Leaton, Jay Padalia, David Sullivan, Shannon Moonah

Posted 25 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.24.004531

Understanding how the protozoan protein degradation pathway is regulated could uncover new parasite biology for drug discovery. We found the COP9 signalosome (CSN) conserved in multiple pathogens such as Leishmania, Trypanosoma, Toxoplasma, and used the severe diarrhea-causing Entamoeba histolytica to study its function in medically significant protozoa. We show that CSN is an essential upstream regulator of parasite protein degradation. Genetic disruption of E. histolytica CSN by two distinct approaches inhibited cell proliferation and viability. Both CSN5 knockdown and dominant negative mutation trapped cullin in a neddylated state, disrupting UPS activity and protein degradation. In addition, zinc ditiocarb (ZnDTC), a main metabolite of the inexpensive FDA-approved alcohol-abuse drug disulfiram, was active against parasites acting in a COP9-dependent manner. ZnDTC, given as disulfiram-zinc, had oral efficacy in clearing parasites in vivo. Our findings provide insights into the regulation of parasite protein degradation, and supports the significant therapeutic potential of COP9 inhibition.

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