Immucillin H, a powerful transition-state analog inhibitor of purine nucleoside phosphorylase, selectively inhibits human T lymphocytes

Greg A. Kicska, Li Long, Heidi Hörig, Craig Fairchild, Peter C. Tyler, Richard H. Furneaux, Vern L. Schramm, Howard L. Kaufman

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183 Scopus citations


Transition-state theory has led to the design of Immucillin-H (Imm-H), a picomolar inhibitor of purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP). In humans, PNP is the only route for degradation of deoxyguanosine, and genetic deficiency of this enzyme leads to profound T cell-mediated immunosuppression. This study reports the biological effects and mechanism of action of Imm-H on malignant T cell lines and on normal activated human peripheral T cells. Imm-H inhibits the growth of malignant T cell leukemia lines with the induction of apoptosis. Imm-H also inhibits activated normal human T cells after antigenic stimulation in vitro. However, Imm-H did not inhibit malignant B cells, colon cancer cell lines, or normal human nonstimulated T cells, demonstrating the selective activity of Imm-H. The effects on leukemia cells were mediated by the cellular phosphorylation of deoxyguanosine and the accumulation of dGTP, an inhibitor of ribonucleotide diphosphate reductase. Cells were protected from the toxic effects of Imm-H when deoxyguanosine was absent or when deoxycytidine was present. Guanosine incorporation into nucleic acids was selectively blocked by Imm-H with no effect on guanine, adenine, adenosine, or deoxycytidine incorporation. Imm-H may have clinical potential for treatment of human T cell leukemia and lymphoma and for other diseases characterized by abnormal activation of T lymphocytes. The design of Imm-H from an enzymatic transition-state analysis exemplifies a powerful approach for developing high-affinity enzyme inhibitors with pharmacologic activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4593-4598
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 10 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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