A screening of multiple classes of pharmaceutical compounds for effect on preadult salmon lice Lepeophtheirus salmonis.
The insecticide cartap is the bis(thiocarbamate) derivative of 2-(dimethylamino)propane-1,3-dithiol, which on oxidation forms the natural toxicant nereistoxin (NTX) [4-(dimethylamino)-1,2-dithiolane]. Both cartap and NTX are ion channel blockers of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR). Cartap was originally proposed to act only after metabolic conversion to NTX and later suggested to block directly without activation. The present study uses a new approach to differentiate these hypotheses, that is, pH effects on channel-blocking activity and hydrolysis rates. As controls, mecamylamine (the classic channel blocker) and NTX are stable and similar in channel-blocking potency ([(3)H]thienylcyclohexylpiperidine binding assay, honeybee nAChR) at pH 6.1-8.4. In contrast, cartap is >200-fold more effective at pH 7.4 than at pH 6.1, indicating that it undergoes hydrolytic activation. Cartap slowly hydrolyzes to cartap monothiol at pH 6.1 but quickly forms the dithiol and some NTX at pH 7.4. The relationship between potency and hydrolysis products at various pH ranges suggests that cartap dithiol is the most plausible blocking agent.