Michal Stark, Tomás F. D. Silva, Guy Levin, Miguel Machuqueiro, and Yehuda G. Assaraf

Lipophilic weak base therapeutic agents, termed lysosomotropic drugs (LDs), undergo marked sequestration and concentration within lysosomes, hence altering lysosomal functions. This lysosomal drug entrapment has been described as luminal drug compartmentalization. Consistent with our recent finding that LDs inflict a pH-dependent membrane fluidization, we herein demonstrate that LDs undergo intercalation and concentration within lysosomal membranes. The latter was revealed experimentally and computationally by (a) confocal microscopy of fluorescent compounds and drugs within lysosomal membranes, and (b) molecular dynamics modeling of the pH-dependent membrane insertion and accumulation of an assortment of LDs, including anticancer drugs. Based on the multiple functions of the lysosome as a central nutrient sensory hub and a degradation center, we discuss the molecular mechanisms underlying the alteration of morphology and impairment of lysosomal functions as consequences of LDs’ intercalation into lysosomes. Our findings bear important implications for drug design, drug induced lysosomal damage, diseases and pertaining therapeutics.
Doi: 10.3390/cells9051082

Cited as: Stark M, Silva TFD, Levin G, Machuqueiro M, Assaraf YG (2020) The Lysosomotropic Activity of Hydrophobic Weak Base Drugs is Mediated via Their Intercalation into the Lysosomal Membrane. Cells 9(5), 1082; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9051082.