Chloroquine (CQ) and other quinoline-containing antimalarials are important drugs with many therapeutic benefits as well as adverse effects. However, the molecular targets underlying most such effects are largely unknown. By taking a novel functional genomics strategy, which employs a unique combination of genome-wide drug-gene synthetic lethality (DGSL), gene-gene synthetic lethality (GGSL), and dosage suppression (DS) screens in the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae and is thus termed SL/DS for simplicity, we found that CQ inhibits the thiamine transporters Thi7, Nrt1, and Thi72 in yeast. We first discovered a thi3Δ mutant as hypersensitive to CQ using a genome-wide DGSL analysis. Using genome-wide GGSL and DS screens, we then found that a thi7Δ mutation confers severe growth defect in the thi3Δ mutant and that THI7 overexpression suppresses CQ-hypersensitivity of this mutant. We subsequently showed that CQ inhibits the functions of Thi7 and its homologues Nrt1 and Thi72. In particular, the transporter activity of wild-type Thi7 but not a CQ-resistant mutant (Thi7(T287N)) was completely inhibited by the drug. Similar effects were also observed with other quinoline-containing antimalarials. In addition, CQ completely inhibited a human thiamine transporter (SLC19A3) expressed in yeast and significantly inhibited thiamine uptake in cultured human cell lines. Therefore, inhibition of thiamine uptake is a conserved mechanism of action of CQ. This study also demonstrated SL/DS as a uniquely effective methodology for discovering drug targets.
SciCrunch is a data sharing and display platform. Anyone can create a custom portal where they can select searchable subsets of hundreds of data sources, brand their web pages and create their community. SciCrunch will push data updates automatically to all portals on a weekly basis. User communities can also add their own data to scicrunch, however this is not currently a free service.