Schistosomiasis is a tropical parasitic disease afflicting ~200 million people worldwide and current therapy depends on a single drug (praziquantel) which exhibits several non-optimal features. These shortcomings underpin the need for next generation anthelmintics, but the process of validating physiologically relevant targets (‘target selection’) and pharmacologically profiling them is challenging. Remarkably, even though over a quarter of current human therapeutics target rhodopsin-like G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), no library screen of a flatworm GPCR has yet been reported. Here, we have pharmacologically profiled a schistosome serotonergic GPCR (Sm.5HTR) implicated as a downstream modulator of PZQ efficacy, in a miniaturized screening assay compatible with high content screening. This approach employs a split luciferase based biosensor sensitive to cellular cAMP levels that resolves the proximal kinetics of GPCR modulation in intact cells. Data evidence a divergent pharmacological signature between the parasitic serotonergic receptor and the closest human GPCR homolog (Hs.5HTR7), supporting the feasibility of optimizing parasitic selective pharmacophores. New ligands, and chemical series, with potency and selectivity for Sm.5HTR over Hs.5HTR7 are identified in vitro and validated for in vivo efficacy against schistosomules and adult worms. Sm.5HTR also displayed a property resembling irreversible inactivation, a phenomenon discovered at Hs.5HTR7, which enhances the appeal of this abundantly expressed parasite GPCR as a target for anthelmintic ligand design. Overall, these data underscore the feasibility of profiling flatworm GPCRs in a high throughput screening format competent to resolve different classes of GPCR modulators. Further, these data underscore the promise of Sm.5HTR as a chemotherapeutically vulnerable node for development of next generation anthelmintics.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2016 Chan et al.