Metabolic pathways for activation of the antiviral agent 9-(2-phosphonylmethoxyethyl)adenine in human lymphoid cells.


9-(2-Phosphonylmethoxyethyl)adenine (PMEA), the acyclic phosphonate analog of adenine monophosphate, is a promising antiviral drug with activity against herpesviruses, Epstein-Barr virus, and retroviruses, including the human immunodeficiency virus. In order to be active, it must be converted to the diphosphate derivative, the putative inhibitor of viral DNA polymerases. The metabolic pathway responsible for activation of PMEA is unclear. The metabolism of PMEA was investigated in human T-lymphoid cells (CEMss) and a PMEA-resistant subline (CEMss(r-1)) with a partial deficiency in adenylate kinase activity. Experiments with [3H]PMEA showed that extracts of CEMss phosphorylated PMEA to its mono- and diphosphate in the presence of ATP as the phosphate donor. No other nucleotides or 5-phosphoribosyl pyrophosphate displayed appreciable activity as a phosphate donor. Subcellular fractionation experiments showed that CEMss cells contained two nucleotide kinase activities, one in mitochondria and one in the cytosol, which phosphorylated PMEA. The PMEA-resistant CEMss mutant proved to have a deficiency in the mitochondrial adenylate kinase activity, indicating that this enzyme was important in the phosphorylation of PMEA. Other effective antiviral purine phosphonate derivatives of PMEA showed a profile of phosphorylating activity similar to that of PMEA. By comparison, phosphorylation of the pyrimidine analog (S)-1-(3-hydroxy-2-phosphonylmethoxypropyl) cytosine proceeded by an enzyme present in the cytosol. We conclude from these studies that adenylate kinase which has been localized in the intermembrane space of mitochondria is the major route for PMEA phosphorylation in CEMss cells but that another hitherto unidentified enzyme(s) present in the cytosol may contribute to the anabolism of the phosphonates.




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