Evaluating the GCN5b bromodomain as a novel therapeutic target against the parasite Toxoplasma gondii

Jocelyne Hanquier, Thomas Gimeno, Victoria Jeffers, William J. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite of great importance in human and veterinary health. The frontline treatment of antifolates suffers a variety of drawbacks, including toxicity and allergic reactions, underscoring the need to identify novel drug targets for new therapeutics to be developed. We previously showed that the Toxoplasma lysine acetyltransferase (KAT) GCN5b is an essential chromatin remodeling enzyme in the parasite linked to the regulation of gene expression. We have previously established that the KAT domain is a liability that can be targeted in the parasite by compounds like garcinol; here, we investigate the potential of the bromodomain as a targetable element of GCN5b. Bromodomains bind acetylated lysine residues on histones, which helps stabilize the KAT complex at gene promoters. Using an inducible dominant-negative strategy, we found that the GCN5b bromodomain is critical for Toxoplasma viability. We also found that the GCN5-family bromodomain inhibitor, L-Moses, interferes with the ability of the GCN5b bromodomain to associate with acetylated histone residues using an in vitro binding assay. Moreover, L-Moses displays potent activity against Toxoplasma tachyzoites in vitro, which can be overcome if parasites are engineered to over-express GCN5b. Collectively, our data support the GCN5b bromodomain as an attractive target for the development of new therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107868
JournalExperimental Parasitology
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Bromodomain
  • Chromatin
  • Drug development
  • Epigenetics
  • Histone acetylation
  • Toxoplasma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases

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