EDITORIAL

Editorial: Current status and perspective on drug targets in tubercle bacilli and drug design of antituberculous agents based on structure-activity relationship

Haruaki Tomioka
Current Pharmaceutical Design 2014, 20 (27): 4305-6
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Worldwide, tuberculosis (TB) remains the most frequent and important infectious disease causing morbidity and death. However, the development of new drugs for the treatment and prophylaxis of TB, particularly those truly active against dormant and persistent types of tubercle bacilli, has been slow, although some promising drugs, such as diarylquinoline TMC207, nitroimidazopyran PA-824, nitroimidazo-oxazole Delamanid (OPC-67683), oxazolidinone PNU-100480, ethylene diamine SQ-109, and pyrrole derivative LL3858, are currently under phase 1 to 3 clinical trials. Therefore, novel types of antituberculous drug, which act on unique drug targets in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) pathogens, particularly drug targets related to the establishment of mycobacterial dormancy in the host's macrophages, are urgently needed. In this context, it should be noted that current anti-TB drugs mostly target the metabolic reactions and proteins which are essential for the growth of MTB in extracellular milieus. It may also be promising to develop another type of drug that exerts an inhibitory action against bacterial virulence factors which cross-talk and interfere with signaling pathways of MTB-infected immunocompetent host cells, such as lymphocytes, macrophages, and NK cells, thereby changing the intracellular milieus that are favorable to intramacrophage survival and the growth of infected bacilli. This special issue contains ten review articles, dealing with recent approaches to identify and establish novel drug targets in MTB for the development of new and unique antitubercular drugs, including those related to mycobacterial dormancy and crosstalk with cellular signaling pathways. In addition, this special issue contains some review papers with special reference to the drug design based on quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) analysis, especially three-dimensional (3D)-QSAR. New, critical information on the entire genome of MTB and mycobacterial virulence genes is promoting the elucidation of the molecular structures of drug targets in MTB, and are consequently markedly useful for the design of new, promising antituberculous drugs using QSAR techniques. In this issue, we review the following areas. Firstly, Dr. Li M. Fu reviews the perspective that combines machine learning and genomics for drug discovery in tuberculosis, in relation to the problem that the exhaustive search for useful drug targets over the entire MTB genome would not be as productive as expected in practice [1]. Secondly, the review article by Drs. R. S. Chauhan. S. K. Chanumolu, C. Rout, and R. Shrivastava focuses on analysis of the current state of MTB genomic resources, host-pathogen interaction studies in the context of mycobacterial persistence, and drug target discovery based on the utilization of computational tools and metabolic network analyses [2]. Thirdly, Drs. Daria Bottai, Agnese Serafini, Alessandro Cascioferro, Roland Brosch, and Riccardo Manganelli review the current knowledge on MTB T7SS/ESX secretion systems and their impact on MTB physiology and virulence, and the possible approaches to develop T7SS/ESX inhibitors [3]. Fourthly, Drs. E. Jeffrey North, Mary Jackson, and Richard E. Lee review and analyze new and emerging inhibitors of the mycolic acid biosynthetic pathway, including mycobacterial enzymes for fatty acid synthesis, mycolic acid-modifying enzymes, fatty acid-activating and -condensing enzymes, transporters, and transferases, that have been discovered in the post-genomic era of tuberculosis drug discovery [4]. Fifthly, Drs. Katarina Mikusova, Vadim Makarov, and Joao Neres review the mycobacterial enzyme DprE1, which catalyzes a unique epimerization reaction in the biosynthesis of decaprenylphosphoryl arabinose, a single donor of the arabinosyl residue for the build-up of arabinans, one of the mycobacterial cell wall components, as an important drug target especially for the development of benzothiazinones [5]. Sixthly, I review the present status of global research on novel drug targets related to the Toll-like receptor in the MTB pathogen, with special reference to mycobacterial virulence factors that cross-talk and interfere with signaling pathways of host macrophages [6]. The following four review articles deal with drug design of novel anti-TB agents employing QSAR techniques. Firstly, Drs. Nidhi and Mohammad Imran Siddiqi review 2D and 3D QSAR approaches and the recent trends of these methods integrated with virtual screening using the 3D pharmacophore and molecular docking approaches for the identification and design of novel antituberculous agents, by presenting a comprehensive overview of QSAR studies reported for newer antituberculous agents [7]. Secondly, Drs. Filomena Martins, Cristina Ventura, Susana Santos, and Miguel Viveiros review the current status of different QSAR-based strategies for the design of novel anti-TB drugs based upon the most active anti-TB agent, isoniazid, from the viewpoint of the development of promising derivatives that are active against isoniazid- resistant strains with katG mutations [8]. Thirdly, Drs. Sanchaita Rajkhowa and Ramesh C. Deka review current studies concerning 2D and 3D QSAR models that contain density-functional theory (DFT)-based descriptors as their parameters [9]. Notably, DFT-based descriptors such as atomic charges, molecular orbital energies, frontier orbital densities, and atom-atom polarizabilities are very useful in predicting the reactivity of atoms in molecules. Fourthly, Drs. Renata V. Bueno, Rodolpho C. Braga, Natanael D. Segretti, Elizabeth I. Ferreira, Gustavo H. G. Trossini, and Carolina H. Andrade review the current progress and applications of QSAR analysis for the discovery of innovative tuberculostatic agents as inhibitors of ribonucleotide reductase, DNA gyrase, ATP synthase, and thymidylate kinase enzymes, highlighting present challenges and new opportunities in TB drug design [10]. The aim of this issue is to address the future prospects for the development of new antituberculous drugs. There are a number of difficulties in computational drug-design for the development of new drug formulations with potential antimycobacterial effects, especially therapeutic and prophylactic efficacy against infection due to dormant-type MTB pathogens. In addition, it should be emphasized that the most urgent goal of TB chemotherapy is develop highly active, low-cost drugs which can be used not only in industrialized but also in developing countries, because most global TB incidence occurs in the latter. I am sincerely grateful to the individuals who contributed to this work. All authors are experts in their fields and they made earnest efforts to perform these in-depth reviews. I thank them all.

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