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  Pharmaceutical Patents  

 

Title:  Compositions and methods for treating malaria with cupredoxin and cytochrome
United States Patent: 
7,338,766
Issued: 
March 4, 2008

Inventors: 
Chakrabarty; Ananda (Villa Park, IL), Das Gupta; Tapas (River Forest, IL), Yamada; Tohru (Oak Park, IL), Chaudhari; Anita (Clifton Park, NY), Fialho; Arsenio (Lisbon, PT), Hong; Chang Soo (Chicago, IL)
Assignee: 
The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (Urbana, IL)
Appl. No.: 
11/436,590
Filed: 
May 19, 2006


 

Executive MBA in Pharmaceutical Management, U. Colorado


Abstract

The present invention relates to cupredoxin and cytochrome and their use, separately or together, to inhibit the spread of parasitemia in mammalian red blood cells and other tissues infected by the malaria parasite, and in particular the parasitemia of human red blood cells by P. falciparum. The invention provides isolated peptides that are variants, derivatives or structural equivalents of cupredoxins or cytochrome c, and compositions comprising cupredoxins and/or cytochrome c, or variants, derivatives or structural equivalents thereof, that are useful for treating or preventing malaria infection in mammals. Further, the invention provides methods to treat mammalian patients to prevent or inhibit the growth of malarial infection in mammals. The invention also provides methods to prevent the growth of malaria infection in insect vectors.

Description of the Invention

General

The present invention provides compositions and methods that use cupredoxin and/or cytochrome to inhibit parasitemia of malaria-infected mammalian red blood cells and bodily tissues, such as brain tissue and bone tissue.

Previously it was known that several bacterial redox proteins belonging to a family of the blue copper-containing proteins called cupredoxins, or the iron (haem)-containing proteins called cytochromes, enter mammalian cells, including cancer cells, and either induce apoptotic cell death or cause growth inhibition through G1 arrest of the cell cycle. (Yamada et al., Cell Cycle 3:752-755 (2004); Yamada et al., Cell Cycle 3:1182-1187 (2004)) Single bacterial proteins such as the cupredoxin azurin or the cytochrome c.sub.551, both elaborated by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, can demonstrate either activity based on their hydrophobicity. Thus wild type (wt) azurin induces apoptosis in the murine J774 cells (Yamada et al., Infection and Immunity 70:7054-7062 (2002)) while a mutant M44KM64E azurin causes cell cycle inhibition at the G1 phase in J774 cells. (Yamada et al., PNAS 101:4770-4775 (2004)) In contrast, wt cytochrome C.sub.551 causes cell cycle inhibition at the G1 phase in J774 cells while a mutant V23DI59E cytochrome c.sub.551 induces apoptosis. (Hiraoka et al., PNAS 101:6427-6432 (2004))

In accordance with the present invention, it is surprisingly now known that cupredoxins and cytochromes will inhibit in vitro parasitemia in human red blood cells by the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. In particular, the cupredoxins azurin and Laz inhibit parasitemia in P. falciparum by about 50% and about 75% respectively. See, Example 6. Further, rusticyanin and cytochromes c and f inhibited parasitemia by 20-30%. See, Example 1. Further, it is now known that azurin has a discernable structural homology to the Fab fragment of G17.12 mouse monoclonal antibody when complexed to the Pf MSP1-19 fragment of the MSP1 surface protein of P. falciparum. See, Example 2. While not limiting the mode of inhibition to any one means, it is thought that azurin may inhibit parasitemia of P. falciparum by interaction with the MSP1 protein on the parasite's surface.

Surprisingly, it is now known that azurin and Laz bind both the PfMSP1-19 and PfMSP1-42 P. falciparum surface proteins in vitro. Further, it is now known that azurin amino acid residues 36-89 are required for binding to PfMSP1-19 and PfMSP1-42. Further, it is now known that the H.8 domain of Laz from N. gonorrhea increases both the binding of a fused azurin to PfMSP1-19 as well as inhibition of parasitemia by P. falciparum. See, Examples 5 and 6.

Because of the high structural homology between the cupredoxins, it is contemplated that other cupredoxins will have the same anti-malarial activity as the azurin, rusticyanin, or Laz. In some embodiments, the cupredoxin is, but is not limited to, azurin, pseudoazurin, plastocyanin, auracyanin, Laz or rusticyanin. In specific embodiments, the cupredoxin is Laz, azurin or rusticyanin. In other embodiments, the cupredoxin is from a pathogenic bacteria. In a more specific embodiment, the cupredoxin is azurin. In particularly specific embodiments, the azurin is derived from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Alcaligenes faecalis, Achromobacter xylosoxidans ssp. denitrificans I, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Methylomonas sp., Neisseria meningitidis Z2491, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Pseudomonas chlororaphis, Xylella fastidiosa 9a5 or Vibrio parahaemolyticus. In a most specific embodiment, the azurin is from P. aeruginosa. In other specific embodiments, the cupredoxin comprises an amino acid sequence that is SEQ ID NO:1, 2-18 or 21.

In accordance with the present invention, it has been learned that P. aeruginosa cytochrome c.sub.551, human cytochrome c and Phormidium laminosum cytochrome f will inhibit parasitemia in malaria-infected human red blood cells. In a specific embodiment, the cytochrome is cytochrome c.sub.551 from P. aeruginosa, human cytochrome c or cytochrome f. In other specific embodiments, the cytochrome comprises an amino acid sequence that is SEQ ID NO: 2, 19 or 20.

Because of the structural homology between the cytochrome c's, it is contemplated that other cytochromes will have the same anti-malarial activity as P. aeruginosa cytochrome c.sub.551 and human cytochrome c. In some embodiments, the cytochrome is from a pathogenic bacterium. In another specific embodiment, the cytochrome inhibits parasitism in malaria-infected red blood cells, and more specifically, human red blood cells. In another specific embodiment, the cytochrome inhibits cell cycle progression in a mammalian cancer cell, and more specifically in a J774 cell.

Compositions of the Invention

The invention provides for peptides that are variants, derivatives or structural equivalents of cupredoxin or cytochrome. In some embodiments, the peptide is substantially pure. In other embodiments, the peptide is isolated. In some embodiments, the peptide is less that a full length cupredoxin or cytochrome, and retains some of the functional characteristics of the cupredoxin or cytochrome. In some embodiments, the peptide retains the ability to inhibit parasitemia in malaria-infected red blood cells, and more specifically the ability to inhibit P. falciparum infection in human red blood cells. In specific embodiments, the cytochrome is P. aeruginosa cytochrome c.sub.551, human cytochrome c, or cyanobacterial cytochrome f, and specifically SEQ ID NOS: 2, 19, and 20. In another specific embodiment, the peptide does not raise an immune response in a mammal, and more specifically a human.

The invention also provides compositions comprising at least one peptide that is a cupredoxin, cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent of a cupredoxin or cytochrome. The invention also provides compositions comprising at least one peptide that is a cupredoxin or variant, derivative or structural equivalent of a cupredoxin. The invention also provides compositions comprising at least one peptide that is a cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent of a cytochrome. In other embodiments, the composition consists essentially of the peptide. The invention also provides compositions comprising at least one peptide that is a cupredoxin, cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent of a cupredoxin or cytochrome in a pharmaceutical composition.

Because of the high structural homology between the cupredoxins, it is contemplated that other cupredoxins will have the same anti-malarial activity as Pseudomonas aeruginosa azurin with regards to inhibition of parasitemia in malaria-infected red blood cells. In some embodiments, the cupredoxin is, but is not limited to, azurin, pseudoazurin, plastocyanin, rusticyanin, Laz or auracyanin. In particularly specific embodiments, the cupredoxin is derived from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Alcaligenes faecalis, Achromobacter xylosoxidans ssp. denitrificans I, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Methylomonas sp., Neisseria meningitidis Z2491, Neisseria gonorrhea, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Pseudomonas chlororaphis, Xylella fastidiosa 9a5 or Vibrio parahaemolyticus. In a very specific embodiment, the cupredoxin is azurin from Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In other specific embodiments, the cupredoxin comprises an amino acid sequence that is SEQ ID NO: 1, 3-18, or 22. In other specific embodiments, the cupredoxin is the Laz protein from Neisseria meningitidis or Neisseria gonorrhea.

The invention provides for amino acid sequence variants of a cupredoxin or cytochrome which have amino acids replaced, deleted, or inserted as compared to the wild-type polypeptide. Variants of the invention may be truncations of the wild-type polypeptide. In some embodiments, the composition comprises a peptide that consists of a region of a cupredoxin or cytochrome that is less that the full length wild-type polypeptide. In some embodiments, the composition comprises a peptide that consists of more than about 10 residues, more than about 15 residues or more than about 20 residues of a truncated cupredoxin or cytochrome. In some embodiments, the composition comprises a peptide that consists of not more than about 100 residues, not more than about 50 residues, not more than about 40 residues or not more than about 30 residues of a truncated cupredoxin or cytochrome. In some embodiments, composition comprises a peptide to which a cupredoxin or cytochrome, and more specifically to SEQ ID NOS: 1-20 or 22 has at least about 90% amino acid sequence identity, at least about 95% amino acid sequence identity or at least about 99% amino acid sequence identity.

In specific embodiments, the variant of cupredoxin comprises P. aeruginosa azurin residues 36-89. In other embodiments, the variant of cupredoxin consists of P. aeruginosa azurin residues 36-89. In other specific embodiments, the variant consists of the equivalent residues of a cupredoxin other that azurin.

It is contemplated that other cupredoxin variants can be designed that have a similar activity to azurin residues 36-89. To do this, the subject cupredoxin amino acid sequence will be aligned to the Pseudomonas aeruginosa azurin sequence using BLAST, BLAST2, ALIGN2 or Megalign (DNASTAR), the relevant residues located on the P. aeruginosa azurin amino acid sequence, and the equivalent residues found on the subject cupredoxin sequence, and the equivalent residues of the cupredoxin thus identified.

The variants also include peptides made with synthetic amino acids not naturally occurring. For example, non-naturally occurring amino acids may be integrated into the variant peptide to extend or optimize the half-life of the composition in the bloodstream. Such variants include, but are not limited to, D,L-peptides (diastereomer), (Futaki et al., J. Biol. Chem. 276(8):5836-40 (2001); Papo et al., Cancer Res. 64(16):5779-86 (2004); Miller et al, Biochem. Pharmacol. 36(1): 169-76, (1987)); peptides containing unusual amino acids (Lee et al., J. Pept. Res. 63(2):69-84 (2004)), and incorporation of olefin-containing non-natural amino acid followed by hydrocarbon stapling (Schafmeister et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 122:5891-5892 (2000); Walenski et al., Science 305:1466-1470 (2004)) and peptides comprising .epsilon.-(3,5-dinitrobenzoyl)-Lys residues.

In other embodiments, the peptide of the invention is a derivative of a cupredoxin or cytochrome. The derivatives of cupredoxin or cytochrome are chemical modifications of the peptide such that the peptide still retains some of its fundamental activities. For example, a "derivative" of azurin can be a chemically modified azurin that retains its ability to inhibit the malaria parasitemia in mammalian cells. Chemical modifications of interest include, but are not limited to, amidation, acetylation, sulfation, polyethylene glycol (PEG) modification, phosphorylation and glycosylation of the peptide. In addition, a derivative peptide maybe a fusion of a cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof to a chemical compound, such as but not limited to, another peptide, drug molecule or other therapeutic or pharmaceutical agent or a detectable probe. Derivatives of interest include chemical modifications by which the half-life in the bloodstream of the peptides and compositions of the invention can be extended or optimized, such as by several methods well known to those in the art, including but not limited to, circularized peptides (Monk et al., BioDrugs 19(4):261-78, (2005); DeFreest et al., J. Pept. Res. 63(5):409-19 (2004)), N- and C-terminal modifications (Labrie et al., Clin. Invest. Med. 13(5):275-8, (1990)), and incorporation of olefin-containing non-natural amino acid followed by hydrocarbon stapling (Schafmeister et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 122:5891-5892 (2000); Walenski et al., Science 305:1466-1470 (2004)).

In one embodiment, the cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof, is fused to a H.8 region of Laz from Neisseria meningitidis or Neisseria gonorrhea. One example of such a peptide is the H.8-Paz fusion protein described in Example 4. In a specific embodiment, the H.8 is fused to the C-terminus of the cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof. In another specific embodiment, the H.8 region is SEQ ID NO: 21, or a variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof.

It is contemplated that the peptide of the composition of invention may be more than one of a variant, derivative and structural equivalent of a cupredoxin or cytochrome. For example, the peptide may be a truncation of azurin that has been PEGylated, thus making it both a variant and a derivative. In one embodiment, the peptides of the invention are synthesized with .alpha.,.alpha.-disubstituted non-natural amino acids containing olefin-bearing tethers, followed by an all-hydrocarbon "staple" by ruthenium catalyzed olefin metathesis. (Scharmeister et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 122:5891-5892 (2000); Walensky et al., Science 305:1466-1470 (2004)) Additionally, peptides that are structural equivalents of azurin may be fused to other peptides, thus making a peptide that is both a structural equivalent and a derivative. These examples are merely to illustrate and not to limit the invention. Variants, derivatives or structural equivalents of cupredoxin or cytochrome may or may not bind copper.

In another embodiment, the peptide may be a structural equivalent of a cupredoxin or cytochrome. Examples of studies that determine significant structural homology between cupredoxins and cytochromes and other proteins include Toth et al. (Developmental Cell 1:82-92 (2001)). Specifically, significant structural homology between a cupredoxin or cytochrome and its structural equivalents are determined by using the VAST algorithm (Gibrat et al., Curr Opin Struct Biol 6:377-385 (1996); .Madej et al., Proteins 23:356-3690 (1995)). In specific embodiments, the VAST p value from a structural comparison of a cupredoxin or cytochrome to the structural equivalent is less than about 10.sup.-3, less than about 10.sup.-5, or less than about 10.sup.-7. In other embodiments, significant structural homology between a cupredoxin or cytochrome and its structural equivalents are determined by using the DALI algorithm (Holm & Sander, J. Mol. Biol. 233:123-138 (1993)). In specific embodiments, the DALI Z score for a pairwise structural comparison is at least about 3.5, at least about 7.0, or at least about 10.0.

In another embodiment, the variant or derivative of cupredoxin has a significant structural homology to the Fab fragment of G17.12 mouse monoclonal antibody. An example of how this structural similarity can be determined can be found in Example 3. Specifically, significant structural homology between a cupredoxin and the Fab fragment of G17.12 mouse monoclonal antibody can be determined by using the VAST algorithm (Gibrat et al., id.; Madej et al., id.). In specific embodiments, the VAST p-value from a structural comparison of a cupredoxin to the Fab fragment of G17.12 mouse monoclonal antibody can be less than about 10.sup.-4, less than about 10.sup.-5, less than about 10.sup.-6, or less than about 10.sup.-7. In other specific embodiments, the VAST score from a structural comparison of a cupredoxin to the Fab fragment of G17.12 mouse monoclonal antibody can be greater than about 9, greater than about 10, greater than about 11 or greater than about 12.

In some embodiments, the variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof has some of the functional characteristics of the P. aeruginosa azurin, P. aeruginosa cytochrome c.sub.551, human cytochrome c or cyanobacterial cytochrome f. In a specific embodiment, the peptide of the invention inhibits parasitemia by malaria in malaria-infected red blood cells, and more specifically parasitemia by P. falciparum in P. falciparum-infected human red blood cells. The invention also provides for the variants, derivatives and structural equivalents of cupredoxin and cytochrome c.sub.551 that retain the ability to inhibit parasitemia in malaria-infected red blood cells, and more specifically parasitemia by P. falciparum in P. falciparum-infected human red blood cells. The inhibition of parasitemia by P. falciparum in P. falciparum-infected human red blood cells may be determined by the method described in Example 6.

Because it is now known that cupredoxins and cytochrome can inhibit parasitemia in malaria-infected red blood cells, it is now possible to design variants, derivatives and structural equivalents of cupredoxins and cytochrome that retain this anti-malarial activity. Such variants and derivatives can be made by, for example, creating a "library" of various variants and derivatives of cupredoxins and cytochromes, and then testing each for anti-malarial activity using one of many methods known in the art, such the exemplary method in Example 6. It is contemplated that the resulting variants, derivatives and structural equivalents of cupredoxins and cytochromes with anti-malarial activity can be used in the methods of the invention, in place of or in addition to the cupredoxins and cytochromes mentioned herein. This method of selecting variants and derivatives may be adapted for any of the activities of P. aeruginosa azurin, P. aeruginosa cytochrome c.sub.551, human cytochrome c or cyanobacterial cytochrome f disclosed herein.

In other embodiments, the peptide of the invention inhibits intracellular replication of the malaria parasite in human red blood cells. Methods to determine the intracellular replication of the malaria parasite are well known in the art, and one such method is described in Example 2.

In some embodiments, the peptide of the invention binds to the PfMSP1-19 and/or PfMSP1-42 P. falciparum surface proteins with a relative binding affinity that is statistically greater a non-binding control protein. A peptide can be tested for this activity by using surface plasmon resonance analysis as described in Example 5. Other methods to determine whether one protein binds to another are well known in the art and may be used as well.

In another embodiment, the peptide of the invention binds to ICAM-3 or NCAM with a relative binding affinity that is statistically greater a non-binding control protein. A peptide can be tested for this activity by using surface plasmon resonance analysis as described in Examples 7 and 5. Other methods to determine whether one protein binds to another are well known in the art and may be used as well.

In some specific embodiments, the peptides of the invention induce apoptosis in a mammalian cancer cell, more specifically a J774 cell. The ability of a peptide to induce apoptosis may be observed by mitosensor ApoAlert.TM. confocal microscopy using a MITOSENSOR.TM. APOLERT.TM. Mitochondrial Membrane Sensor kit (Clontech Laboratories, Inc., Palo Alto, Calif., U.S.A.), by measuring caspase-8, caspase-9 and caspase-3 activity using the method described in Zou et al. (J. Biol. Chem. 274: 11549-11556 (1999)), and by detecting apoptosis-induced nuclear DNA fragmentation using, for example, the APOLERT.TM. DNA fragmentation kit (Clontech Laboratories, Inc., Palo Alto, Calif., U.S.A.).

In another specific embodiment, the peptide of the invention induces cellular growth arrest in a mammalian cancer cell, more specifically a J774 cell. Cellular growth arrest can be determined by measuring the extent of inhibition of cell cycle progression, such as by the method found in Yamada et al. (PNAS 101:4770-4775 (2004)). In another specific embodiment, the peptide of the invention inhibits cell cycle progression in a mammalian cancer cell, more specifically a J774 cell.

Cupredoxins

These small blue copper proteins (cupredoxins) are electron transfer proteins (10-20 kDa) that participate in bacterial electron transfer chains or are of unknown function. The copper ion is solely bound by the protein matrix. A special distorted trigonal planar arrangement to two histidine and one cysteine ligands around the copper gives rise to very peculiar electronic properties of the metal site and an intense blue color. A number of cupredoxins have been crystallographically characterized at medium to high resolution.

The cupredoxins in general have a low sequence homology but high structural homology. (Gough & Clothia, Structure 12:917-925 (2004); De Rienzo et al., Protein Science 9:1439-1454 (2000).) For example, the amino acid sequence of azurin is 31% identical to that of auracyanin B, 16.3% to that of rusticyanin, 20.3% to that of plastocyanin, and 17.3% to that of pseudoazurin. See Table 1 (see Original Patent). However, the structural similarity of these proteins is more pronounced. The VAST p value for the comparison of the structure of azurin to auracyanin B is 10.sup.-7.4, azurin to rusticyanin is 10.sup.-5, azurin to plastocyanin is 10.sup.-5.6, and azurin to psuedoazurin is 10.sup.-4.1.

All of the cupredoxins possess an eight-stranded Greek key beta-barrel or beta-sandwich fold and have a highly conserved site architecture. (De Rienzo et al., Protein Science 9:1439-1454 (2000).) A prominent hydrophobic patch, due to the presence of many long chain aliphatic residues such as methionines and leucines, is present around the copper site in azurins, amicyanins, cyanobacterial plastocyanins, cucumber basic protein and to a lesser extent, pseudoazurin and eukaryotic plastocyanins. Id. Hydrophobic patches are also found to a lesser extent in stellacyanin and rusticyanin copper sites, but have different features. Id.

Azurin

The azurins are copper containing proteins of 128 amino acid residues which belong to the family of cupredoxins involved in electron transfer in plants and certain bacteria. The azurins include those from P. aeruginosa (PA) (SEQ ID NO: 1), A. xylosoxidans, and A. denitrificans (SEQ ID NO: 8). (Murphy et al., J. Mol. Biol. 315:859-871 (2002)) The amino acid sequence identity between the azurins varies between 60-90%, these proteins showed a strong structural homology. All azurins have a characteristic .beta.-sandwich with Greek key motif and the single copper atom is always placed at the same region of the protein. In addition, azurins possess an essentially neutral hydrophobic patch surrounding the copper site. Id.

Plastocyanins

The plastocyanins are soluble proteins of cyanobacteria, algae and plants that contain one molecule of copper per molecule and are blue in their oxidized form. They occur in the chloroplast, where they function as electron carriers. Since the determination of the structure of poplar plastocyanin in 1978, the structure of algal (Scenedesmus, Enteromorpha, Chlamydomonas) and plant (French bean) plastocyanins has been determined either by crystallographic or NMR methods, and the poplar structure has been refined to 1.33 .ANG. resolution. SEQ ID NO: 4 shows the amino acid sequence of plastocyanin from Phormidium laminosum, a thermophilic cyanobacterium.

Despite the sequence divergence among plastocyanins of algae and vascular plants (e.g., 62% sequence identity between the Chlamydomonas and poplar proteins), the three-dimensional structures are conserved (e.g., 0.76 .ANG. rms deviation in the C alpha positions between the Chlamydomonas and Poplar proteins). Structural features include a distorted tetrahedral copper binding site at one end of an eight-stranded antiparallel beta-barrel, a pronounced negative patch, and a flat hydrophobic surface. The copper site is optimized for its electron transfer function, and the negative and hydrophobic patches are proposed to be involved in recognition of physiological reaction partners. Chemical modification, cross-linking, and site-directed mutagenesis experiments have confirmed the importance of the negative and hydrophobic patches in binding interactions with cytochrome f, and validated the model of two functionally significant electron transfer paths involving plastocyanin. One putative electron transfer path is relatively short (approximately 4 .ANG.) and involves the solvent-exposed copper ligand His-87 in the hydrophobic patch, while the other is more lengthy (approximately 12-15 .ANG.) and involves the nearly conserved residue Tyr-83 in the negative patch, Redinbo et al., J. Bioenerg. Biomembr. 26:49-66 (1994).

Rusticyanins

Rusticyanins are blue-copper containing single-chain polypeptides obtained from a Thiobacillus (now called Acidithiobacillus). The X-ray crystal structure of the oxidized form of the extremely stable and highly oxidizing cupredoxin rusticyanin from Thiobacillus ferrooxidans (SEQ ID NO: 5) has been determined by multiwavelength anomalous diffraction and refined to 1.9 .ANG. resolution. The rusticyanins are composed of a core beta-sandwich fold composed of a six- and a seven-stranded b-sheet. Like other cupredoxins, the copper ion is coordinated by a cluster of four conserved residues (His 85, Cys138, His143, Met148) arranged in a distorted tetrahedron. Walter, R. L. et al., J. Mol. Biol., vol. 263, pp-730-51 (1996).

Pseudoazurins

The pseudoazurins are a family of blue-copper containing single-chain polypeptide. The amino acid sequence of pseudoazurin obtained from Achromobacter cycloclastes is shown in SEQ ID NO: 6. The X-ray structure analysis of pseudoazurin shows that it has a similar structure to the azurins although there is low sequence homology between these proteins. Two main differences exist between the overall structure of the pseudoazurins and azurins. There is a carboxy terminus extension in the pseudoazurins, relative to the azurins, consisting of two alpha-helices. In the mid-peptide region azurins contain an extended loop, shortened in the pseudoazurins, which forms a flap containing a short .alpha.-helix. The only major differences at the copper atom site are the conformation of the MET side-chain and the Met-S copper bond length, which is significantly shorter in pseudoazurin than in azurin.

Phytocyanins

The proteins identifiable as phytocyanins include, but are not limited to, cucumber basic protein, stellacyanin, mavicyanin, umecyanin, a cucumber peeling cupredoxin, a putative blue copper protein in pea pods, and a blue copper protein from Arabidopsis thaliana. In all except cucumber basic protein and the pea-pod protein, the axial methionine ligand normally found at blue copper sites is replaced by glutamine.

Auracyanin

Three small blue copper proteins designated auracyanin A, auracyanin B-1, and auracyanin B-2 have been isolated from the thermophilic green gliding photosynthetic bacterium Chloroflexus aurantiacus. The two B forms are glycoproteins and have almost identical properties to each other, but are distinct from the A form. The sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis demonstrates apparent monomer molecular masses as 14 (A), 18 (B-2), and 22 (B-1) kDa.

The amino acid sequence of auracyanin A has been determined and showed auracyanin A to be a polypeptide of 139 residues. (Van Dreissche et al., Protein Science 8:947-957 (1999).) His58, Cys123, His128, and Met132 are spaced in a way to be expected if they are the evolutionary conserved metal ligands as in the known small copper proteins plastocyanin and azurin. Secondary structure prediction also indicates that auracyanin has a general beta-barrel structure similar to that of azurin from Pseudomonas aeruginosa and plastocyanin from poplar leaves. However, auracyanin appears to have sequence characteristics of both small copper protein sequence classes. The overall similarity with a consensus sequence of azurin is roughly the same as that with a consensus sequence of plastocyanin, namely 30.5%. The N-terminal sequence region 1-18 of auracyanin is remarkably rich in glycine and hydroxy amino acids. Id. See exemplary amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 16 for chain A of auracyanin from Chloroflexus aurantiacus (NCBI Protein Data Bank Accession No. AAM12874).

The auracyanin B molecule has a standard cupredoxin fold. The crystal structure of auracyanin B from Chloroflexus aurantiacus has been studied. (Bond et al., J. Mol. Biol. 306:47-67 (2001).) With the exception of an additional N-terminal strand, the molecule is very similar to that of the bacterial cupredoxin, azurin. As in other cupredoxins, one of the Cu ligands lies on strand 4 of the polypeptide, and the other three lie along a large loop between strands 7 and 8. The Cu site geometry is discussed with reference to the amino acid spacing between the latter three ligands. The crystallographically characterized Cu-binding domain of auracyanin B is probably tethered to the periplasmic side of the cytoplasmic membrane by an N-terminal tail that exhibits significant sequence identity with known tethers in several other membrane-associated electron-transfer proteins. The amino acid sequences of the B forms are presented in McManus et al. (J. Biol. Chem. 267:6531-6540 (1992).). See exemplary amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 17 for chain B of auracyanin from Chloroflexus aurantiacus (NCBI Protein Data Bank Accession No. 1QHQA).

Stellacyanin

Stellacyanins are a subclass of phytocyanins, a ubiquitous family of plant cupredoxins. An exemplary sequence of a stellacyanin is included herein as SEQ ID NO: 15. The crystal structure of umecyanin, a stellacyanin from horseradish root (Koch et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 127:158-166 (2005)) and cucumber stellacyanin (Hart et al., Protein Science 5:2175-2183 (1996).). The protein has an overall fold similar to the other phytocyanins. The ephrin B2 protein ectodomain tertiary structure bears a significant similarity to stellacyanin. (Toth et al., Developmental Cell 1:83-92 (2001).) An exemplary amino acid sequence of a stellacyanin is found in the National Center for Biotechnology Information Protein Data Bank as Accession No. 1JER, SEQ ID NO: 15.

Cucumber Basic Protein

An exemplary amino acid sequence from a cucumber basic protein is included herein as SEQ ID NO: 18. The crystal structure of the cucumber basic protein (CBP), a type 1 blue copper protein, has been refined at 1.8 .ANG. resolution. The molecule resembles other blue copper proteins in having a Greek key beta-barrel structure, except that the barrel is open on one side and is better described as a "beta-sandwich" or "beta-taco". (Guss et al., J. Mol. Biol. 262:686-705 (1996).) The ephrinB2 protein ectodomian tertiary structure bears a high similarity (rms deviation 1.5 .ANG. for the 50 .alpha. carbons) to the cucumber basic protein. (Toth et al., Developmental Cell 1:83-92 (2001).)

The Cu atom has the normal blue copper NNSS' co-ordination with bond lengths Cu--N(His39)=1.93 A, Cu--S(Cys79)=2.16 A, Cu--N(His84)=1.95 A, Cu--S(Met89)=2.61 A. A disulphide link, (Cys52)-S--S-(Cys85), appears to play an important role in stabilizing the molecular structure. The polypeptide fold is typical of a sub-family of blue copper proteins (phytocyanins) as well as a non-metalloprotein, ragweed allergen Ra3, with which CBP has a high degree of sequence identity. The proteins currently identifiable as phytocyanins are CBP, stellacyanin, mavicyanin, umecyanin, a cucumber peeling cupredoxin, a putative blue copper protein in pea pods, and a blue copper protein from Arabidopsis thaliana. In all except CBP and the pea-pod protein, the axial methionine ligand normally found at blue copper sites is replaced by glutamine. An exemplary sequence for cucumber basic protein is found in NCBI Protein Data Bank Accession No. 2CBP, SEQ ID NO: 18.

Cytochromes

Cytochrome C.sub.551

Cytochrome C.sub.551 from P. aeruginosa (Pa-C551) is a monomeric redox protein of 82 amino-acid residues (SEQ ID NO: 2), involved in dissimilative denitrification as the physiological electron donor of nitrite reductase. The functional properties of Pa-C551 have been extensively investigated. The reactions with non-physiological small inorganic redox reactants and with other macromolecules, like blue copper proteins, eukaryotic cytochrome c and the physiological partner nitrite reductase have provided a test for protein-protein electron transfer.

The three-dimensional structure of Pa-C551, which is a member of bacterial class I cytochromes, shows a single low-spin heme with His-Met ligation and the typical polypeptide fold which however leaves the edges of pyrrole rings II and III of the heme exposed (Cutruzzola et al., J. Inorgan. Chem. 88:353-61 (2002)). The lack of a 20-residue omega loop, present in the mammalian class I cytochromes, causes further exposure of the heme edge at the level of propionate 13. The distribution of charged residues on the surface of Pa-C551 is very anisotropic: one side is richer in acidic residues whereas the other displays a ring of positive side chains, mainly lysines, located at the border of a hydrophobic patch which surrounds the heme crevice. This patch comprises residues Gly11, Val13, Ala14, Met22, Val23, Pro58, Ile59, Pro60, Pro62, Pro63 and Ala65. The anisotropic charge distribution leads to a large dipolar moment which is important for electron transfer complex formation.

The charge distribution described above for Pa-C551 has been reported for other electron transfer proteins and their electron acceptors. Moreover, modification by site-directed mutagenesis of residues within the hydrophobic or charged patch has shown for different proteins the importance of surface complementarity for binding and electron transfer. As an example, evidence for the relevance of the hydrophobic patch for the electron transfer properties of azurin from P. aeruginosa came from the studies carried out on mutants of residues Met44 and Met64 changed to positively and negatively charged amino acids. Id.

The cytochrome c-type domain has a fold consisting of a series of alpha helices and reverse turns that serve to envelop the covalently bound haem within a hydrophobic pocket. This domain can be found in monodomain cytochrome c proteins, such as cytochrome c6, cytochrome c.sub.552, cytochrome c.sub.459 and mitochondrial cytochrome c. The cytochrome c-type domain occurs in a number of other proteins, such as in cytochrome cd1-nitrite reductase as the N-terminal haem c domain, in quinoprotein alcohol dehydrogenase as the C-terminal domain, in Quinohemoprotein amine dehydrogenase A chain as domains 1 and 2, and in the cytochrome bc.sub.1 complex as the cytochrome bc.sub.1 domain. Structural analysis with VAST algorithm (cytochrome C.sub.551 from Pseudomonas aeruginosa as a query) showed significant structural neighbors (P values between 10.sup.-10.3 to 10.sup.-4.5) only for cytochromes.

Methods of Use

The invention provides methods to treat patients with a malarial infection or at danger of acquiring one, or inhibit the spread of the malaria parasite. These methods comprise administering to a patient or an insect vector a cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof which inhibits parasitemia of malaria-infected mammalian cells. The inhibition of parasitemia can be determined by many methods well known in the art. One method is described in Example 6, and determines the inhibition of parasitemia in malaria-infected human red blood cells. In other embodiments, the cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof inhibits intracellular replication of the malaria parasite in human red blood cells and is administered to the patient or insect vector. Methods to determine the intracellular replication of the malaria parasite are well known in the art, and one such method is described in Example 2. The mode of the invention is not limited to any particular mechanism, and inhibition of parasitemia may result from many factors, including but not limited to, inhibition of replication of the parasite in infected blood cells, inhibition of parasite infecting uninfected blood cells, inhibition in the growth cycle of the parasite and inhibition of parasite entry into the mammalian cell.

The invention provides methods to treat patients suffering from infection by a malaria parasite by administering an effective amount of at least one protein that is a cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof. The patients that may be treated by this method are any mammal that can be infected by a malaria parasite, and specifically are human patients. Malaria parasites known to infect mammals include, but are not limited to, Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. berghei (rodent-specific), P. yoelli (murine-specific), P. cynomolgi and P. knowlesi (monkey-specific).

It has also been learned that cupredoxins and cytochrome C551 are also effective against HIV-1 infections, as disclosed in a co-filed application. "Compositions And Methods For Treating HIV Infection With Cupredoxin And Cytochrome c," U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 11/436,591, whose disclosure is expressly incorporated herein by reference. Further, co-infections with HIV and malaria are very common in many areas of the world, and in particular sub-Saharan Africa. In some embodiments, the patient suffering from infection by a malaria parasite is also suffering from infection by HIV. In some embodiments, the method of treatment of the invention also comprises administering anti-HIV drugs. In some embodiments, the anti-HIV drugs are co-administered.

The invention also provides methods to treat a patient suspected of having contact with a malaria parasite by administering an effective amount of at least one peptide that is a cupredoxin and/or a cytochrome, or a variant, derivative or structural equivalent of a cupredoxin or a cytochrome. A patient can be suspected of having contact with a malaria parasite, for example, if that patient lives or has traveled in a region of the world where malaria infection of others of the patient's species is common. Treatment by this method may be commenced when the patient is about to, or has already, come into contact with the malaria parasite. Contact with malaria parasites most often occurs by contact with an insect vector such as mosquitoes, so that areas abundant in these insects and the malaria parasite are considered to be among the areas where a patient would have a high probability of coming in contact with a malaria parasite. Such areas of the world include, but are not limited to, parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Further, a patient can be suspected of having contact with the malaria parasite if they have come into contact with blood infected with a malaria parasite, are intentionally exposed to the malaria parasite, or accidentally injected with blood or drugs contaminated with the parasite.

The cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent of cupredoxin or cytochrome can be administered to the patient by many routes and in many regimens that will be well known to those in the art. In specific embodiments, the cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent of cupredoxin or cytochrome is administered orally, topically, by inhalation, by injection, more specifically, intravenously, intramuscularly or subcutaneously.

In one embodiment, the methods may comprise co-administering to a patient one unit dose of compositions comprising a cupredoxin or cytochrome, or a variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof, and one unit dose of compositions comprising an anti-malarial drug and/or an anti-HIV drug, in either order. These compositions may be administered at about the same time, or within about a given time following the administration of the other, for example, about one minute to about 60 minutes, or about 1 hour to about 12 hours of the other.

The invention also provides methods to inhibit the spread of the malaria parasite in an insect vector population harboring a malaria parasite by administering to an insect vector in the population at least one of a cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent of cupredoxin or cytochrome, at an amount that is effective to reduce the infectivity of the parasite in a co-existant mammalian population. In specific embodiments, the insect vector is a mosquito, and more specifically a mosquito from the species Anopheles gambiae. In this method, the administration of the cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent of cupredoxin or cytochrome can be accomplished by placing the peptides in compositions that will be consumed by the insect vector, however any manner that brings the peptide into contact with the malaria parasite in the insect vector's gut is contemplated. Many methods to administer chemicals to insect populations which produce such consumption are known in the art.

In another embodiment, a transmissible genetic element that passes from one mosquito to another will be operably connected to the cupredoxin coding sequence operably connected to a constitutive promoter, the cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent of cupredoxin or cytochrome will be produced inside the Anopheles gambiae infected with P. falciparum and will interfere with its replication/survival in the mosquito.

Other manners of administration of the peptides to the insect vector include, but are not limited to, fusing the cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent of cupredoxin or cytochrome genes to genes from other proteins normally consumed by the insects. The amount of peptides administered to the insect vector should be an amount effective to reduce the infectivity of the malaria parasite in a mammal when the insect vector comes into contact with a mammal. In specific embodiments, the amount administered should be effective to reduce the infectivity of the malaria parasite when the insect vector comes into contact with a human.

Mosquito larvae are suitable for use in the present invention and preferably, the promoter used is a strong promoter. Two alternative categories of promoter are available for use: inducible and constitutive promoters. Inducible promoters include, for example, heat shock promoters. Preferably, the heat shock promoter is an insect heat shock promoter, for example the Drosophila melanogaster hsp70 promoter, which is capable of driving the expression of genes in heterologous organisms, including medfly. The invention also encompasses the use of the medfly hsp70 promoter (Papadimitriou et al., Insect Mol Biol 7:279-90 (1998)). Alternative systems may be based on induction with the antibiotic tetracycline. (Heinrich and Scott, PNAS 97:8229-8232, (2000))

Heat shock promoters are inducible by raising the temperature of the conditions under which the medfly are being cultured. For example, at 23-25.degree. C., the hsp70 promoter is active at low levels or not at all. This allows the insect larva to develop without stress induced by the production of a heterologous protein. At higher temperatures, however, such as 37-42.degree. C., the hsp70 promoter is induced and expresses the heterologous protein at a high level.

Inducible promoters may be constructed based on known inducible gene control elements. For example, inducible promoters may be constructed by combining an element responsive to a drug or hormone which may be administered in the diet. In a preferred embodiment, a human oestrogen responsive element (ERE) may be used to regulate expression of the protein of interest, as long as the insect is transformed with a second coding sequence which expresses the human oestrogen receptor.

Constitutive promoters may also be used to express the protein and/or other proteins required in the insect larva. For example, the constitutive promoter may be a cytoplasmic actin promoter. The D. melanogaster cytoplasmic actin promoter has been cloned (Act5C) and is highly active in mosquitoes (Huynh and Zieler, J. Mol. Biol. 288:13-20 (1999)). Cytoplasmic actin genes and their promoters may also be isolated from other insects, including medfly. Other examples include the cytoplasmic tubulin promoter, for instance the medfly cytoplasmic tubulin promoter.

Promoters which control secreted polypeptides may be used, optionally together with appropriate signal sequences, to direct secretion of the protein to the haemolymph. For example, the larval serum protein promoter may be employed (Benes et al., Mol. Gen. Genet 249(5):545-556 (1995)).

Mass rearing technology for mosquitoes is highly developed. For protein production, larval cultures that have been initiated at different times can be synchronized by appropriate temperature shift regimes. This is possible because growth rates depend on the temperature of the environment; at 18.degree. C. larval growth rates decrease by approximately 50%.

Pharmaceutical Compositions Comprising Cupredoxin and/or Cytochrome and Variants and Derivatives Thereof

Pharmaceutical compositions comprising cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof can be manufactured in any conventional manner, e.g., by conventional mixing, dissolving, granulating, dragee-making, emulsifying, encapsulating, entrapping, or lyophilizing processes. The substantially pure cupredoxin and/or cytochrome, and variants, derivatives and structural equivalents thereof can be readily combined with a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier well-known in the art. Such carriers enable the preparation to be formulated as a tablet, pill, dragee, capsule, liquid, gel, syrup, slurry, suspension, and the like. Suitable carriers or excipients can also include, for example, fillers and cellulose preparations. Other excipients can include, for example, flavoring agents, coloring agents, detackifiers, thickeners, and other acceptable additives, adjuvants, or binders. In some embodiments, the pharmaceutical preparation is substantially free of preservatives. In other embodiments, the pharmaceutical preparation may contain at least one preservative. General methodology on pharmaceutical dosage forms is found in Ansel et al., Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms and Drug Delivery Systems (Lippencott Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore Md. (1999)).

The composition comprising a cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof used in the invention may be administered in a variety of ways, including by injection (e.g., intradermal, subcutaneous, intramuscular, intraperitoneal and the like), by inhalation, by topical administration, by suppository, by using a transdermal patch or by mouth. General information on drug delivery systems can be found in Ansel et al., Id. In some embodiments, the composition comprising a cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof can be formulated and used directly as injectibles, for subcutaneous and intravenous injection, among others. The injectable formulation, in particular, can advantageously be used to treat patients that are at risk of an malaria-infection, likely to have an malaria-infection or have an malaria-infection. The composition comprising a cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof can also be taken orally after mixing with protective agents such as polypropylene glycols or similar coating agents.

When administration is by injection, the cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof may be formulated in aqueous solutions, specifically in physiologically compatible buffers such as Hanks solution, Ringer's solution, or physiological saline buffer. The solution may contain formulatory agents such as suspending, stabilizing and/or dispersing agents. Alternatively, the cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof may be in powder form for constitution with a suitable vehicle, e.g., sterile pyrogen-free water, before use. In some embodiments, the pharmaceutical composition does not comprise an adjuvant or any other substance added to enhance the immune response stimulated by the peptide. In some embodiments, the pharmaceutical composition comprises a substance that inhibits an immune response to the peptide.

When administration is by intravenous fluids, the intravenous fluids for use administering the cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof may be composed of crystalloids or colloids. Crystalloids as used herein are aqueous solutions of mineral salts or other water-soluble molecules. Colloids as used herein contain larger insoluble molecules, such as gelatin. Intravenous fluids may be sterile.

Crystalloid fluids that may be used for intravenous administration include but are not limited to, normal saline (a solution of sodium chloride at 0.9% concentration), Ringer's lactate or Ringer's solution, and a solution of 5% dextrose in water sometimes called D5W, as described in Table 2 (see Original Patent).

When administration is by inhalation, the cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof may be delivered in the form of an aerosol spray from pressurized packs or a nebulizer with the use of a suitable propellant, e.g., dichlorodifluoromethane, trichlorofluoromethane, carbon dioxide or other suitable gas. In the case of a pressurized aerosol, the dosage unit may be determined by providing a valve to deliver a metered amount. Capsules and cartridges of, e.g., gelatin, for use in an inhaler or insufflator may be formulated containing a powder mix of the proteins and a suitable powder base such as lactose or starch.

When administration is by topical administration, the cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof may be formulated as solutions, gels, ointments, creams, suspensions, and the like, as are well known in the art. In some embodiments, administration is by means of a transdermal patch. When administration is by suppository (e.g., rectal or vaginal), cupredoxin and/or cytochrome c and variants and derivatives thereof compositions may also be formulated in compositions containing conventional suppository bases.

When administration is oral, a cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof can be readily formulated by combining the cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof with pharmaceutically acceptable carriers well known in the art. A solid carrier, such as mannitol, lactose, magnesium stearate, and the like may be employed; such carriers enable the cupredoxin and/or cytochrome and variants and derivatives thereof to be formulated as tablets, pills, dragees, capsules, liquids, gels, syrups, slurries, suspensions and the like, for oral ingestion by a subject to be treated. For oral solid formulations such as, for example, powders, capsules and tablets, suitable excipients include fillers such as sugars, cellulose preparation, granulating agents, and binding agents.

Other convenient carriers, as well-known in the art, also include multivalent carriers, such as bacterial capsular polysaccharide, a dextran or a genetically engineered vector. In addition, sustained-release formulations that include a cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof allow for the release of cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof over extended periods of time, such that without the sustained release formulation, the cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof would be cleared from a subject's system, and/or degraded by, for example, proteases and simple hydrolysis before eliciting or enhancing a therapeutic effect.

The half-life in the bloodstream of the compositions of the invention can be extended or optimized by several methods well known to those in the art, including but not limited to, circularized peptides (Monk et al., BioDrugs 19(4):261-78, (2005); DeFreest et al., J. Pept. Res. 63(5):409-19 (2004)), D,L-peptides (diastereomer), (Futaki et al., J. Biol. Chem. Feb 23; 276(8):5836-40 (2001); Papo et al., Cancer Res. 64(16):5779-86 (2004); Miller et al., Biochem. Pharmacol. 36(1):169-76, (1987)); peptides containing unusual amino acids (Lee et al., J. Pept. Res. 63(2):69-84 (2004)), N- and C-terminal modifications (Labrie et al., Clin. Invest. Med. 13(5):275-8, (1990)), and hydrocarbon stapling (Schafmeister et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 122:5891-5892 (2000); Walenski et al., Science 305:1466-1470 (2004)). Of particular interest are d-isomerization (substitution) and modification of peptide stability via D-substitution or L-amino acid substitution and hydrocarbon stapling.

In various embodiments, the pharmaceutical composition includes carriers and excipients (including but not limited to buffers, carbohydrates, mannitol, proteins, polypeptides or amino acids such as glycine, antioxidants, bacteriostats, chelating agents, suspending agents, thickening agents and/or preservatives), water, oils, saline solutions, aqueous dextrose and glycerol solutions, other pharmaceutically acceptable auxiliary substances as required to approximate physiological conditions, such as buffering agents, tonicity adjusting agents, wetting agents and the like. It will be recognized that, while any suitable carrier known to those of ordinary skill in the art may be employed to administer the compositions of this invention, the type of carrier will vary depending on the mode of administration. Compounds may also be encapsulated within liposomes using well-known technology. Biodegradable microspheres may also be employed as carriers for the pharmaceutical compositions of this invention. Suitable biodegradable microspheres are disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,897,268; 5,075,109; 5,928,647; 5,811,128; 5,820,883; 5,853,763; 5,814,344 and 5,942,252.

The pharmaceutical compositions may be sterilized by conventional, well-known sterilization techniques, or may be sterile filtered. The resulting aqueous solutions may be packaged for use as is, or lyophilized, the lyophilized preparation being combined with a sterile solution prior to administration.

Administration of Cupredoxin and/or Cytochrome and Variants and Derivatives Thereof

The cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof can be administered formulated as pharmaceutical compositions and administered by any suitable route, for example, by oral, buccal, inhalation, sublingual, rectal, vaginal, transurethral, nasal, topical, percutaneous, i.e., transdermal or parenteral (including intravenous, intramuscular, subcutaneous and intracoronary) administration. The pharmaceutical formulations thereof can be administered in any amount effective to achieve its intended purpose. More specifically, the composition is administered in a therapeutically effective amount. In specific embodiments, the therapeutically effective amount is generally from about 0.01-20 mg/day/kg of body weight.

The compounds comprising cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof are useful for the treatment and/or prophylaxis of malaria infection, alone or in combination with other active agents. The appropriate dosage will, of course, vary depending upon, for example, the compound of cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof employed, the host, the mode of administration and the nature and severity of the conditions being treated. However, in general, satisfactory results in humans are indicated to be obtained at daily dosages from about 0.01-20 mg/kg of body weight. An indicated daily dosage in humans is in the range from about 0.7 mg to about 1400 mg of a compound of cupredoxin or cytochrome c.sub.551, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof conveniently administered, for example, in daily doses, weekly doses, monthly doses, and/or continuous dosing. Daily doses can be in discrete dosages from 1 to 12 times per day. Alternatively, doses can be administered every other day, every third day, every fourth day, every fifth day, every sixth day, every week, and similarly in day increments up to 31 days. Alternatively, dosing can be continuous using patches, i.v. administration and the like.

The method of introducing cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof to patients is, in some embodiments, through the co-administration of cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof with other drugs used for malaria therapy. Such methods are well-known in the art. In a specific embodiment, the cupredoxin and/or cytochrome c are part of an cocktail or co-dosing containing or with other malaria therapeutics. Malaria therapeutics of interest include, but are not limited to, proguanil, chlorproguanil, trimethoprim, chloroquine, mefloquine, lumefantrine, atovaquone, pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine, pyrimethamine-dapsone, halofantrine, quinine, quinidine, amodiaquine, amopyroquine, sulphonamides, artemisinin, arteflene, artemether, artesunate, primaquine, pyronaridine, proguanil, chloroquine, mefloquine, pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine, pyrimethamine-dapsone, halofantrine, quinine, proguanil, chloroquine, mefloquine, 1,16-hexadecamethylenebis(N-methylpyrrolidinium)dibromide, and combinations thereof.

The method of introducing cupredoxin or cytochrome c.sub.551, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof to patients is, in some embodiments, the same as currently used to introduce anti-HIV drugs, such as the protease-inhibitor-containing cocktails. Such methods are well-known in the art. In a specific embodiment, the cupredoxin or cytochrome c.sub.551, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof are part of an cocktail or co-dosing with anti-HIV therapeutics. Anti-HIV drugs include, but are not limited to, reverse transcriptase inhibitors: AZT (zidovudine [Retrovir]), ddC (zalcitabine [Hivid], dideoxyinosine), d4T (stavudine [Zerit]), and 3TC (lamivudine [Epivir]), nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIS): delavirdine (Rescriptor) and nevirapine (Viramune), protease inhibitors: ritonavir (Norvir), a lopinavir and ritonavir combination (Kaletra), saquinavir (Invirase), indinavir sulphate (Crixivan), amprenavir (Agenerase), and nelfinavir (Viracept). In some embodiments, a combination of several drugs called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is used to treat the patients.

The exact formulation, route of administration, and dosage is determined by the attending physician in view of the patient's condition. Dosage amount and interval can be adjusted individually to provide plasma levels of the active cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof which are sufficient to maintain therapeutic effect. Generally, the desired cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof is administered in an admixture with a pharmaceutical carrier selected with regard to the intended route of administration and standard pharmaceutical practice.

In one aspect, the cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof is delivered as DNA such that the polypeptide is generated in situ. In one embodiment, the DNA is "naked," as described, for example, in Ulmer et al., (Science 259:1745-1749 (1993)) and reviewed by Cohen (Science 259:1691-1692 (1993)). The uptake of naked DNA may be increased by coating the DNA onto a carrier, e.g., biodegradable beads, which are then efficiently transported into the cells. In such methods, the DNA may be present within any of a variety of delivery systems known to those of ordinary skill in the art, including nucleic acid expression systems, bacterial and viral expression systems. Techniques for incorporating DNA into such expression systems are well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. See, e.g., WO90/11092, WO93/24640, WO 93/17706, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,736,524.

Vectors, used to shuttle genetic material from organism to organism, can be divided into two general classes: cloning vectors are replicating plasmid or phage with regions that are essential for propagation in an appropriate host cell and into which foreign DNA can be inserted; the foreign DNA is replicated and propagated as if it were a component of the vector. An expression vector (such as a plasmid, yeast, or animal virus genome) is used to introduce foreign genetic material into a host cell or tissue in order to transcribe and translate the foreign DNA, such as the DNA of a cupredoxin and/or a cytochrome. In expression vectors, the introduced DNA is operably-linked to elements such as promoters that signal to the host cell to highly transcribe the inserted DNA. Some promoters are exceptionally useful, such as inducible promoters that control gene transcription in response to specific factors. Operably-linking a cupredoxin or cytochrome and variants and derivatives thereof polynucleotide to an inducible promoter can control the expression of the cupredoxin or cytochrome and variants and derivatives thereof in response to specific factors. Examples of classic inducible promoters include those that are responsive to .alpha.-interferon, heat shock, heavy metal ions, and steroids such as glucocorticoids (Kaufman, Methods Enzymol. 185:487-511 (1990)) and tetracycline. Other desirable inducible promoters include those that are not endogenous to the cells in which the construct is being introduced, but, however, are responsive in those cells when the induction agent is exogenously supplied. In general, useful expression vectors are often plasmids. However, other forms of expression vectors, such as viral vectors (e.g., replication defective retroviruses, adenoviruses and adeno-associated viruses) are contemplated.

Vector choice is dictated by the organism or cells being used and the desired fate of the vector. In general, vectors comprise signal sequences, origins of replication, marker genes, polylinker sites, enhancer elements, promoters, and transcription termination sequences. As an example, one may clone a cupredoxin or a cytochrome gene into a vector transmissible in the malaria parasite-harboring mosquitoes to prevent the parasite from replicating inside the mosquitoes. The transmissibility of the vector will allow the spread of the cupredoxin/cytochrome to neighboring mosquitoes that are infected with the malaria parasites as well.

The exact formulation, route of administration, and dosage is determined by the attending physician in view of the patient's condition. Dosage amount and interval can be adjusted individually to provide plasma levels of the active cupredoxin and/or cytochrome and variants and derivatives thereof which are sufficient to treat the patient and/or maintain therapeutic effect. Generally, the desired cupredoxin and/or cytochrome and variants and derivatives thereof can be administered in an admixture with a pharmaceutical carrier selected with regard to the intended route of administration and standard pharmaceutical practice. Pharmaceutical compositions used in accordance with the present invention can be formulated in a conventional manner using one or more physiologically acceptable carriers comprising excipients and auxiliaries that facilitate processing of the cupredoxin and/or cytochrome and variants and derivatives thereof, active agents, for inhibiting or stimulating the secretion of cupredoxin and/or cytochrome and variants and derivatives thereof, or a mixture thereof into preparations which can be used therapeutically.

Kits Comprising Cupredoxin and/or Cytochrome C and Variants and Derivatives Thereof

In one aspect, the invention provides kits containing one or more of the following in a package or container: (1) a biologically active composition comprising a cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof; (2) a pharmaceutically acceptable adjuvant or excipient; (3) a vehicle for administration, such as a syringe; (4) instructions for administration. Embodiments in which two or more of components (1)-(4) are found in the same container are also contemplated.

In another aspect, the invention provides kits containing one or more of the following in a package or container: (1) a biologically active composition comprising a cupredoxin or cytochrome, or variant, derivative or structural equivalent thereof; (2) an malaria therapeutic, including, but not limited to, proguanil, chlorproguanil, trimethoprim, chloroquine, mefloquine, lumefantrine, atovaquone, pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine, pyrimethamine-dapsone, halofantrine, quinine, quinidine, amodiaquine, amopyroquine, sulphonamides, artemisinin, arteflene, artemether, artesunate, primaquine, pyronaridine, proguanil, chloroquine, mefloquine, pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine, pyrimethamine-dapsone, halofantrine, quinine, proguanil, chloroquine, mefloquine, 1,16-hexadecamethylenebis(N-methylpyrrolidinium)dibromide; (3) a pharmaceutically acceptable adjuvant or excipient; (4) a vehicle for administration, such as a syringe; (5) instructions for administration. Embodiments in which two or more of components (1)-(5) are found in the same packaging or container are also contemplated.

In some embodiments, the kit also comprises an anti-HIV therapeutic in a package or container. Anti-HIV therapeutics of interest include, but are not limited to, reverse transcriptase inhibitors: AZT (zidovudine [Retrovir]), ddC (zalcitabine [Hivid], dideoxyinosine), d4T (stavudine [Zerit]), and 3TC (lamivudine [Epivir]), nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIS): delavirdine (Rescriptor) and nevirapine (Viramune), protease inhibitors: ritonavir (Norvir), a lopinavir and ritonavir combination (Kaletra), saquinavir (Invirase), indinavir sulphate (Crixivan), amprenavir (Agenerase), and nelfinavir (Viracept). In some embodiment, a combination of several drugs called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is included in the kit.

When a kit is supplied, the different components of the composition may be packaged in separate containers and admixed immediately before use. Such packaging of the components separately may permit long-term storage without losing the active components' functions.

The reagents included in the kits can be supplied in containers of any sort such that the life of the different components are preserved and are not adsorbed or altered by the materials of the container. For example, sealed glass ampules may contain the lyophilized polypeptide or polynucleotide of cupredoxin and/or cytochrome c and variants and derivatives thereof, or buffers that have been packaged under a neutral, non-reacting gas, such as nitrogen. Ampules may consist of any suitable material, such as glass, organic polymers, such as polycarbonate, polystyrene, etc., ceramic, metal or any other material typically employed to hold similar reagents. Other examples of suitable containers include simple bottles that may be fabricated from similar substances as ampules, and envelopes, that may comprise foil-lined interiors, such as aluminum or an alloy. Other containers include test tubes, vials, flasks, bottles, syringes, or the like. Containers may have a sterile access port, such as a bottle having a stopper that can be pierced by a hypodermic injection needle. Other containers may have two compartments that are separated by a readily removable membrane that upon removal permits the components to be mixed. Removable membranes may be glass, plastic, rubber, etc.

Kits may also be supplied with instructional materials. Instructions may be printed on paper or other substrate, and/or may be supplied as an electronic-readable medium, such as a floppy disc, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, Zip disc, videotape, audiotape, flash memory device, etc. Detailed instructions may not be physically associated with the kit; instead, a user may be directed to an internet web site specified by the manufacturer or distributor of the kit, or supplied as electronic mail.

Modification of Cupredoxin and/or Cytochrome

Cupredoxin or cytochrome may be chemically modified or genetically altered to produce variants and derivatives as explained above. Such variants and derivatives may be synthesized by standard techniques.

In addition to naturally-occurring allelic variants of cupredoxin and cytochrome, changes can be introduced by mutation into cupredoxin or cytochrome coding sequence that incur alterations in the amino acid sequences of the encoded cupredoxin or cytochrome that do not significantly alter the ability of cupredoxin or cytochrome to inhibit parasitemia in malaria-infected red blood cells. A "non-essential" amino acid residue is a residue that can be altered from the wild-type sequences of the cupredoxin without altering biological activity, whereas an "essential" amino acid residue is required for such biological activity. For example, amino acid residues that are conserved among the cupredoxins are predicted to be particularly non-amenable to alteration, and thus "essential."

Amino acids for which conservative substitutions that do not change the activity of the polypeptide can be made are well known in the art. Useful conservative substitutions are shown in Table 3 (see Original Patent), "Preferred substitutions." Conservative substitutions whereby an amino acid of one class is replaced with another amino acid of the same type fall within the scope of the invention so long as the substitution does not materially alter the biological activity of the compound.

Non-conservative substitutions that affect (1) the structure of the polypeptide backbone, such as a .beta.-sheet or .alpha.-helical conformation, (2) the charge, (3) hydrophobicity, or (4) the bulk of the side chain of the target site can modify the cytotoxic factor function. Residues are divided into groups based on common side-chain properties as denoted in Table 4 (see Original Patent). Non-conservative substitutions entail exchanging a member of one of these classes for another class. Substitutions may be introduced into conservative substitution sites or more specifically into non-conserved sites.

The variant polypeptides can be made using methods known in the art such as oligonucleotide-mediated (site-directed) mutagenesis, alanine scanning, and PCR mutagenesis. Site-directed mutagenesis (Carter, Biochem J. 237:1-7 (1986); Zoller and Smith, Methods Enzymol. 154:329-350 (1987)), cassette mutagenesis, restriction selection mutagenesis (Wells et al., Gene 34:315-323 (1985)) or other known techniques can be performed on the cloned DNA to produce the cupredoxin or cytochrome C551 variant DNA.

Known mutations of cupredoxins and cytochrome c.sub.551 can also be used to create variant cupredoxin and cytochrome c.sub.551 to be used in the methods of the invention. For example, the C112D and M44KM64E mutants of azurin are known to have cytotoxic and growth arresting activity that is different from the native azurin, and such altered activity can be useful in the treatment methods of the present invention. One embodiment of the methods of the invention utilize cupredoxin and/or cytochrome and variants and derivatives thereof retaining the ability inhibit the growth of malaria infection in mammalian cells. In another embodiment, the methods of the present invention utilize cupredoxin variants such as the M44KM64E mutant, having the ability to cause cellular growth arrest.

A more complete understanding of the present invention can be obtained by reference to the following specific Examples. The Examples are described solely for purposes of illustration and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention. Changes in form and substitution of equivalents are contemplated as circumstances may suggest or render expedient. Although specific terms have been employed herein, such terms are intended in a descriptive sense and not for purposes of limitations. Modifications and variations of the invention as hereinbefore set forth can be made without departing from the spirit and scope thereof, and, therefore, only such limitations should be imposed as are indicated by the appended embodiments.
 

Claim 1 of 8 Claims

1. An isolated peptide consisting of residues 36-89 of SEQ ID NO. 1 that can inhibit parasitemia in malaria-infected red blood cells.

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