Liver fluke β-tubulin isotype 2 binds albendazole and is thus a probable target of this drug

Emma Chambers, Louise A. Ryan, Elizabeth M. Hoey, Alan Trudgett, Neil V. McFerran, Ian Fairweather, David J. Timson

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    Albendazole is a benzimidazole drug which can be used to treat liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) infections. Its mode of action is believed to be the inhibition of microtubule formation through binding to β-tubulin. However, F. hepatica expresses at least six different isotypes of β-tubulin, and this has confused, rather than clarified, understanding of the molecular mechanisms of benzimidazole drugs in this organism. Recombinant F. hepatica β-tubulin proteins were expressed in, and purified from, Escherichia coli. These proteins were then used in pull-down assays in which albendazole was covalently linked to Sepharose. β-Tubulin isotype 2 was pulled down in this assay, and this interaction could be reduced by adding competing albendazole. Molecular modelling of β-tubulin isotypes suggests that changes in the side change conformations of residue 200 in the putative albendazole binding site may be important in determining whether, or not, a particular isotype will bind to the drug. These results, together with previous work demonstrating that albendazole causes disruption of microtubules in the liver fluke, strongly suggest that β-tubulin isotype 2 is one of the targets of this drug.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1257-1264
    Number of pages8
    JournalParasitology Research
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


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