Suicide inhibition

Jump to: navigation, search

Suicide inhibition, also known as suicide inactivation and mechanism-based inactivation, is a form of irreversible enzyme inhibition that occurs when an enzyme binds a substrate analogue and forms a complex with it during the "normal" catalysis reaction.

The catalytic step will generate one of three reactive groups on the substrate analogue that will allow for the irreversible inhibition: an α- or β-haloketone, a βγ unsaturated carbon, or a βγ acetylenic carbon.


Some clinical applications of suicide inhibitors include:

Eflornithine, one of the drugs used to treat sleeping sickness is a suicide inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase.

Rational drug design

Suicide inhibitors are used in what is called "rational drug design" where the aim is to create a novel substrate, based on already known mechanisms and substrates. The main goal of this approach is to create substrates that are unreactive until within that enzyme's active site and at the same time being highly specific. Drugs based on this approach have the advantage of offering very few side effects.