Structure based design of a ricin antidote
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Ricin is a potent cytotoxin easily purified in large quantities. It presents a significant public health concern due to its potential use as a bioterrorism agent. For this reason, extensive efforts have been underway to develop antidotes against this deadly poison. The catalytic A subunit of the heterodimeric toxin has been biochemically and structurally well characterized, and is an attractive target for structure-based drug design. Aided by computer docking simulations, several ricin toxin A chain (RTA) inhibitors have been identified; the most promising leads belonging to the pterin family. To date, the most potent RTA inhibitors developed using this approach are only modest inhibitors with apparent IC50 values in the 10-4 M range, leaving significant room for improvement. This thesis discusses the development of a subset of inhibitors belonging to the pterin family in which amino acids have been utilized as building blocks. Inhibitors in this family have achieved a significant increase in potency, and have provided valuable structural information for further development.