DNA G‑Quadruplexes in the genome of Trypanosoma cruzi as potential therapeutic targets for Chagas disease: dithienylethene ligands as effective antiparasitic agents

29 April 2024, Version 1


Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and affects over 7 million people worldwide. The two actual treatments, Benznidazole (Bzn) and Nifurtimox, cause serious side effects due to their high toxicity leading to treatment abandonment by the patients. In this work, we propose DNA G-quadruplexes (G4) as potential therapeutic targets for this infectious disease. We have found 174 putative quadruplex forming sequences per 100,000 nucleotides in the genome of T. cruzi and confirmed G4 formation of three frequent motifs. We synthesized a family of 14 quadruplex ligands based in the dithienylethene (DTE) scaffold and demonstrated their binding to these identified G4 sequences. Several DTE derivatives exhibited micromolar activity against epimastigotes of four different strains of T. cruzi, in the same concentration range as Bzn. Compounds 3 and 4 presented remarkable activity against trypomastigotes, the active form in blood, of T. cruzi SOL strain (IC50 = 1.5-3.3 μM, SI =25-40.9), being around 40 times more active than Bzn and displaying much better selectivity indexes.


Trypanosome cruzi
Chagas disease
DNA G-quadruplex
therapeutic target

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
It contains Supplementary Figures, Supplmentary Tables, experimental conditions on the synthesis, biophysical experiments and biology experiments


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