Immucillins in Infectious Diseases

Gary B. Evans, Peter C. Tyler, Vern L. Schramm

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The Immucillins are chemically stable analogues that mimic the ribocation and leaving-group features of N-ribosyltransferase transition states. Infectious disease agents often rely on ribosyltransferase chemistry in pathways involving precursor synthesis for nucleic acids, salvage of nucleic acid precursors, or synthetic pathways with nucleoside intermediates. Here, we review three infectious agents and the use of the Immucillins to taget enzymes essential to the parasites. First, DADMe-Immucillin-G is a purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP) inhibitor that blocks purine salvage and shows clinical potential for treatment for the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, a purine auxotroph requiring hypoxanthine for purine nucleotide synthesis. Inhibition of the PNPs in the host and in parasite cells leads to apurinic starvation and death. Second, Helicobacter pylori, a causative agent of human ulcers, synthesizes menaquinone, an essential electron transfer agent, in a pathway requiring aminofutalosine nucleoside hydrolysis. Inhibitors of the H. pylori methylthioadenosine nucleosidase (MTAN) are powerful antibiotics for this organism. Synthesis of menaquinone by the aminofutalosine pathway does not occur in most bacteria populating the human gut microbiome. Thus, MTAN inhibitors provide high-specificity antibiotics for H. pylori and are not expected to disrupt the normal gut bacterial flora. Third, Immucillin-A was designed as a transition state analogue of the atypical PNP from Trichomonas vaginalis. In antiviral screens, Immucillin-A was shown to act as a prodrug. It is active against filoviruses and flaviviruses. In virus-infected cells, Immucillin-A is converted to the triphosphate, is incorporated into the viral transcript, and functions as an atypical chain-Terminator for RNA-dependent RNA polymerases. Immucillin-A has entered clinical trials for use as an antiviral. We also summarize other Immucillins that have been characterized in successful clinical trials for T-cell lymphoma and gout. The human trials support the potential development of the Immucillins in infectious diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-117
Number of pages11
JournalACS Infectious Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 9 2018


  • DADMe-Immucillin-G
  • Immucillin-A
  • RNA chain termination
  • RNA-dependent RNA polymerase
  • antivirals
  • futalosine pathway
  • malaria antibiotics
  • methylthioadenosine phosphorylase
  • purine nucleoside phosphorylase
  • purine-less death
  • species specific antibiotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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