Drug-likeness of linear pentamidine analogues and their impact on the hERG K+ channel – correlation with structural features
This work presents drug-likeness and the cardiotoxicity profiles of six potent pentamidine analogs 1–6 and three new compounds 7–9 as chemotherapeutics for therapy of Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia. A combination of experimental and computational approaches was used in the cardiotoxicity examination. The hERG trafficking and functionality of the hERG currents were tested by western blot analyses, immunofluorescent staining procedures, and patch-clamp electrophysiological assays. Cardiotoxicity combined with blocking the hERG K+ channel was predicted, and then simulated by docking to the CSM-TM model 732 protein. Location of pentamidines in the proximity of Leu622, Thr623, Ser649, Tyr652, Ala653, and Phe656, and the high energies of interactions were in accordance with probable blocking of the hERG channel. However, in the biochemical experiments, no significant changes in IhERG densities and a minor effect on hERG maturation were observed. Predicted metabolic transformation of pentamidines with S atoms in the aliphatic linker leads to oxidation of one S atom, but those with the phenyl sulfanilide moiety can be oxidized to chinones. The tested pentamidines characterized by the presence of sulfur atoms or sulfanilide groups, have favorable drug-likeness parameters and are promising lead structures in the development of new potent chemotherapeutics against PJP.