PMCC PMCC

Search tips
Search criteria

Advanced
Results 1-25 (1231593)

Clipboard (0)
None

Related Articles

1.  A Competitive Nucleotide Binding Inhibitor: In vitro Characterization of Rab7 GTPase Inhibition 
ACS chemical biology  2012;7(6):1095-1108.
Mapping the functionality of GTPases through small molecule inhibitors represents an underexplored area in large part due to the lack of suitable compounds. Here we report on the small chemical molecule 2-(benzoylcarbamothioylamino)-5,5-dimethyl-4,7-dihydrothieno[2,3-c]pyran-3-carboxylic acid (PubChem CID 1067700) as an inhibitor of nucleotide binding by Ras-related GTPases. The mechanism of action of this pan-GTPase inhibitor was characterized in the context of the Rab7 GTPase as there are no known inhibitors of Rab GTPases. Bead-based flow cytometry established that CID 1067700 has significant inhibitory potency on Rab7 nucleotide binding with nanomolar inhibitor (Ki) values and an inhibitory response of ≥97% for BODIPY-GTP and BODIPY-GDP binding. Other tested GTPases exhibited significantly lower responses. The compound behaves as a competitive inhibitor of Rab7 nucleotide binding based on both equilibrium binding and dissociation assays. Molecular docking analyses are compatible with CID 1067700 fitting into the nucleotide binding pocket of the GTP-conformer of Rab7. On the GDP-conformer, the molecule has greater solvent exposure and significantly less protein interaction relative to GDP, offering a molecular rationale for the experimental results. Structural features pertinent to CID 1067700 inhibitory activity have been identified through initial structure activity analyses and identified a molecular scaffold that may serve in the generation of more selective probes for Rab7 and other GTPases. Taken together, our study has identified the first competitive GTPase inhibitor and demonstrated the potential utility of the compound for dissecting the enzymology of the Rab7 GTPase as well as serving as a model for other small molecular weight GTPase inhibitors.
doi:10.1021/cb3001099
PMCID: PMC3440014  PMID: 22486388
Rab, Rho, Rac, Cdc42 and Ras GTPases; chemical biology; drug discovery; therapeutics; fluorescent GTP and GDP; enzyme kinetics
2.  High-Throughput Screen for the Chemical Inhibitors of Antiapoptotic Bcl-2 Family Proteins by Multiplex Flow Cytometry 
Abstract
The human Bcl-2 family includes six antiapoptotic members (Bcl-2, Bcl-B, Bcl-W, Bcl-XL, Bfl-1, and Mcl-1) and many proapoptotic members, wherein a balance between the two determines cell life or death in many physiological and disease contexts. Elevated expression of various antiapoptotic Bcl-2 members is commonly observed in cancers, and chemical inhibitors of these proteins have been shown to promote apoptosis of malignant cells in culture, in animal models, and in human clinical trials. All six antiapoptotic members bind a helix from the proapoptotic family member Bim, thus quenching Bim's apoptotic signal. Here, we describe the use of a multiplex, high-throughput flow cytometry assay for the discovery of small molecule modulators that disrupt the interaction between the antiapoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family and Bim. The six antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family members were expressed as glutathione-S-transferase fusion proteins and bound individually to six glutathione bead sets, with each set having a different intensity of red fluorescence. A fluorescein-conjugated Bcl-2 homology region 3 (BH3) peptide from Bim was employed as a universal ligand. Flow cytometry measured the amount of green peptide bound to each bead set in a given well, with inhibitory compounds resulting in a decrease of green fluorescence on one or more bead set(s). Hits and cheminformatically selected analogs were retested in a dose–response series, resulting in three “active” compounds for Bcl-B. These three compounds were validated by fluorescence polarization and isothermal titration calorimetry. We discuss some of the lessons learned about screening a chemical library provided by the National Institutes of Health Small Molecule Repository (∼195,000 compounds) using high-throughput flow cytometry.
doi:10.1089/adt.2010.0363
PMCID: PMC3182036  PMID: 21561376
3.  Automated NMR Fragment Based Screening Identified a Novel Interface Blocker to the LARG/RhoA Complex 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88098.
The small GTPase cycles between the inactive GDP form and the activated GTP form, catalyzed by the upstream guanine exchange factors. The modulation of such process by small molecules has been proven to be a fruitful route for therapeutic intervention to prevent the over-activation of the small GTPase. The fragment based approach emerging in the past decade has demonstrated its paramount potential in the discovery of inhibitors targeting such novel and challenging protein-protein interactions. The details regarding the procedure of NMR fragment screening from scratch have been rarely disclosed comprehensively, thus restricts its wider applications. To achieve a consistent screening applicable to a number of targets, we developed a highly automated protocol to cover every aspect of NMR fragment screening as possible, including the construction of small but diverse libray, determination of the aqueous solubility by NMR, grouping compounds with mutual dispersity to a cocktail, and the automated processing and visualization of the ligand based screening spectra. We exemplified our streamlined screening in RhoA alone and the complex of the small GTPase RhoA and its upstream guanine exchange factor LARG. Two hits were confirmed from the primary screening in cocktail and secondary screening over individual hits for LARG/RhoA complex, while one of them was also identified from the screening for RhoA alone. HSQC titration of the two hits over RhoA and LARG alone, respectively, identified one compound binding to RhoA.GDP at a 0.11 mM affinity, and perturbed the residues at the switch II region of RhoA. This hit blocked the formation of the LARG/RhoA complex, validated by the native gel electrophoresis, and the titration of RhoA to 15N labeled LARG in the absence and presence the compound, respectively. It therefore provides us a starting point toward a more potent inhibitor to RhoA activation catalyzed by LARG.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088098
PMCID: PMC3914932  PMID: 24505392
4.  Computational Model Explains High Activity and Rapid Cycling of Rho GTPases within Protein Complexes 
PLoS Computational Biology  2006;2(12):e172.
Formation of multiprotein complexes on cellular membranes is critically dependent on the cyclic activation of small GTPases. FRAP-based analyses demonstrate that within protein complexes, some small GTPases cycle nearly three orders of magnitude faster than they would spontaneously cycle in vitro. At the same time, experiments report concomitant excess of the activated, GTP-bound form of GTPases over their inactive form. Intuitively, high activity and rapid turnover are contradictory requirements. How the cells manage to maximize both remains poorly understood. Here, using GTPases of the Rab and Rho families as a prototype, we introduce a computational model of the GTPase cycle. We quantitatively investigate several plausible layouts of the cycling control module that consist of GEFs, GAPs, and GTPase effectors. We explain the existing experimental data and predict how the cycling of GTPases is controlled by the regulatory proteins in vivo. Our model explains distinct and separable roles that the activating GEFs and deactivating GAPs play in the GTPase cycling control. While the activity of GTPase is mainly defined by GEF, the turnover rate is a sole function of GAP. Maximization of the GTPase activity and turnover rate places conflicting requirements on the concentration of GAP. Therefore, to achieve a high activity and turnover rate at once, cells must carefully maintain concentrations of GEFs and GAPs within the optimal range. The values of these optimal concentrations indicate that efficient cycling can be achieved only within dense protein complexes typically assembled on the membrane surfaces. We show that the concentration requirement for GEF can be dramatically reduced by a GEF-activating GTPase effector that can also significantly boost the cycling efficiency. Interestingly, we find that the cycling regimes are only weakly dependent on the concentration of GTPase itself.
Synopsis
A large variety of cellular processes, such as the formation of filopodia or transport vesicles, require that large protein complexes are precisely positioned on intracellular membranes to execute a specific task and then are promptly disassembled to perform their function elsewhere. Small GTPases play a major role in the spatiotemporal control of these complexes. Their function is based on the unique property of cycling between the active GTP-bound state, in which they enable complex formation, and the inactive GDP-bound state, which promotes complex dissolution. Recent experiments based on fluorescence recovery after photobleaching have found that some small GTPases rapidly cycle within protein complexes, causing continuous release and recruitment of the complex components. The seemingly futile cycling is accompanied by a large excess of the active form. This puzzling behavior challenges one's intuition and calls for the application of quantitative methods. Here, Goryachev and Pokhilko use computational modeling to identify regulatory mechanisms that could enable GTPases to cycle with the experimentally observed frequency and efficiency. They show that to achieve high activity and turnover simultaneously, the concentrations of the regulatory molecules that control GTPase cycling should be tightly maintained within the optimal range.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.0020172
PMCID: PMC1676031  PMID: 17140284
5.  An Automated High-Throughput Cell-Based Multiplexed Flow Cytometry Assay to Identify Novel Compounds to Target Candida albicans Virulence-Related Proteins 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110354.
Although three major classes of systemic antifungal agents are clinically available, each is characterized by important limitations. Thus, there has been considerable ongoing effort to develop novel and repurposed agents for the therapy of invasive fungal infections. In an effort to address these needs, we developed a novel high-throughput, multiplexed screening method that utilizes small molecules to probe candidate drug targets in the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans. This method is amenable to high-throughput automated screening and is based upon detection of changes in GFP levels of individually tagged target proteins. We first selected four GFP-tagged membrane-bound proteins associated with virulence or antifungal drug resistance in C. albicans. We demonstrated proof-of-principle that modulation of fluorescence intensity can be used to assay the expression of specific GFP-tagged target proteins to inhibitors (and inducers), and this change is measurable within the HyperCyt automated flow cytometry sampling system. Next, we generated a multiplex of differentially color-coded C. albicans strains bearing C-terminal GFP-tags of each gene encoding candidate drug targets incubated in the presence of small molecules from the Prestwick Chemical Library in 384-well microtiter plate format. Following incubation, cells were sampled through the HyperCyt system and modulation of protein levels, as indicated by changes in GFP-levels of each strain, was used to identify compounds of interest. The hit rate for both inducers and inhibitors identified in the primary screen did not exceed 1% of the total number of compounds in the small-molecule library that was probed, as would be expected from a robust target-specific, high-throughput screening campaign. Secondary assays for virulence characteristics based on null mutant strains were then used to further validate specificity. In all, this study presents a method for the identification and verification of new antifungal drugs targeted to fungal virulence proteins using C. albicans as a model fungal pathogen.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110354
PMCID: PMC4211665  PMID: 25350399
6.  Characterization of a Cdc42 Protein Inhibitor and Its Use as a Molecular Probe* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(12):8531-8543.
Background: By integrating extracellular signals with actin cytoskeletal changes, Cdc42 plays important roles in cell physiology and has been implicated in human diseases.
Results: A small molecule was found to selectively inhibit Cdc42 in biochemical and cellular assays.
Conclusion: The identified compound is a highly Cdc42-selective inhibitor.
Significance: The described first-in-class Cdc42 GTPase-selective inhibitor will have applications in drug discovery and fundamental research.
Cdc42 plays important roles in cytoskeleton organization, cell cycle progression, signal transduction, and vesicle trafficking. Overactive Cdc42 has been implicated in the pathology of cancers, immune diseases, and neuronal disorders. Therefore, Cdc42 inhibitors would be useful in probing molecular pathways and could have therapeutic potential. Previous inhibitors have lacked selectivity and trended toward toxicity. We report here the characterization of a Cdc42-selective guanine nucleotide binding lead inhibitor that was identified by high throughput screening. A second active analog was identified via structure-activity relationship studies. The compounds demonstrated excellent selectivity with no inhibition toward Rho and Rac in the same GTPase family. Biochemical characterization showed that the compounds act as noncompetitive allosteric inhibitors. When tested in cellular assays, the lead compound inhibited Cdc42-related filopodia formation and cell migration. The lead compound was also used to clarify the involvement of Cdc42 in the Sin Nombre virus internalization and the signaling pathway of integrin VLA-4. Together, these data present the characterization of a novel Cdc42-selective allosteric inhibitor and a related analog, the use of which will facilitate drug development targeting Cdc42-related diseases and molecular pathway studies that involve GTPases.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M112.435941
PMCID: PMC3605667  PMID: 23382385
Cdc42; Cytoskeleton; GTPase; Integrin; Migration
7.  Novel Split-Luciferase-Based Genetically Encoded Biosensors for Noninvasive Visualization of Rho GTPases 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e62230.
Rho family GTPases are critical regulators of many important cellular processes and the dysregulation of their activities is implicated in a variety of human diseases including oncogenesis and propagation of malignancy. The traditional methods, such as “pull-down” or two-hybrid procedures, are poorly suited to dynamically evaluate the activity of Rho GTPases, especially in living mammalian cells. To provide a novel alternative approach to analyzing Rho GTPase-associated signaling pathways in vivo, we developed a series of bioluminescent biosensors based on the genetically engineered firefly luciferase. These split-luciferase-based biosensors enable non-invasive visualization and quantification of the activity of Rho GTPases in living subjects. The strategy is to reasonably split the gene of firefly luciferase protein into two inactive fragments and then respectively fuse the two fragments to Rho GTPase and the GTPase-binding domain (GBD) of the specific effector. Upon Rho GTPase interacting with the binding domain in a GTP-dependent manner, these two luciferase fragments are brought into close proximity, leading to luciferase reconstitution and photon production in the presence of the substrate. Using these bimolecular luminescence complementation (BiLC) biosensors, we successfully visualized and quantified the activities of the three best characterized Rho GTPases by measuring the luminescence in living cells. We also experimentally investigated the sensitivity of these Rho GTPase biosensors to upstream regulatory proteins and extracellular ligands without lysing cells and doing labor-intensive works. By virtue of the unique functional characteristics of bioluminescence imaging, the BiLC-based biosensors provide an enormous potential for in vivo imaging of Rho GTPase signaling pathways and high-throughput screening of therapeutic drugs targeted to Rho GTPases and (or) upstream molecules in the near future.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062230
PMCID: PMC3627919  PMID: 23614039
8.  Cell-Based Screening Using High-Throughput Flow Cytometry 
Abstract
This review describes the use of high-throughput flow cytometry for performing multiplexed cell-based and bead-based screens. With the many advances in cell-based analysis and screening, flow cytometry has historically been underutilized as a screening tool largely due to the limitations in handling large numbers of samples. However, there has been a resurgence in the use of flow cytometry due to a combination of innovations around instrumentation and a growing need for cell-based and bead-based applications. The HTFC™ Screening System (IntelliCyt Corporation, Albuquerque, NM) is a novel flow cytometry-based screening platform that incorporates a fast sample-loading technology, HyperCyt®, with a two-laser, six-parameter flow cytometer and powerful data analysis capabilities. The system is capable of running multiplexed screening assays at speeds of up to 40 wells per minute, enabling the processing of a 96- and 384-well plates in as little as 3 and 12 min, respectively. Embedded in the system is HyperView®, a data analysis software package that allows rapid identification of hits from multiplexed high-throughput flow cytometry screening campaigns. In addition, the software is incorporated into a server-based data management platform that enables seamless data accessibility and collaboration across multiple sites. High-throughput flow cytometry using the HyperCyt technology has been applied to numerous assay areas and screening campaigns, including efflux transporters, whole cell and receptor binding assays, functional G-protein-coupled receptor screening, in vitro toxicology, and antibody screening.
doi:10.1089/adt.2010.0308
PMCID: PMC3045571  PMID: 21050072
9.  Targeting GTPases in Parkinson’s disease: comparison to the historic path of kinase drug discovery and perspectives 
Neurological diseases have placed heavy social and financial burdens on modern society. As the life expectancy of humans is extended, neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, have become increasingly common among senior populations. Although the enigmas of Parkinson’s diseases await resolution, more vivid pictures on the cause, progression, and control of the illness are emerging after years of research. On the molecular level, GTPases are implicated in the etiology of Parkinson’s disease and are rational pharmaceutical targets for their control. However, targeting individual GTPases, which belong to a superfamily of proteins containing multiple members with a conserved guanine nucleotide binding domain, has proven to be challenging. In contrast, pharmaceutical pursuit of inhibition of kinases, which constitute another superfamily of proteins with more than 500 members, has been fairly successful. We reviewed the breakthroughs in the history of kinase drug discovery to provide guidance for the GTPase field. We summarize recent progress made in the regulation of GTPase activity. We also present an efficient and cost effective approach to drug screening, which uses multiplex flow cytometry and mixture-based positional scanning libraries. These methods allow simultaneous measurements of both the activity and the selectivity of the screened library. Several GTPase activator clusters were identified which showed selectivity against different GTPase subfamilies. While the clusters need to be further deconvoluted to identify individual active compounds, the method described here and the structure information gathered create a foundation for further developments to build upon.
doi:10.3389/fnmol.2014.00052
PMCID: PMC4046578  PMID: 24926233
Parkinson’s; GTPase; kinase; drug; multiplex
10.  Flow Cytometry for Real-Time Measurement of Guanine Nucleotide Binding and Exchange by Ras-like GTPases 
Analytical biochemistry  2008;381(2):258-266.
Ras-like small GTPases cycle between GTP-bound active and GDP-bound inactive conformational states to regulate diverse cellular processes. Despite their importance, detailed kinetic or comparative studies of family members are rarely undertaken due to the lack of real-time assays measuring nucleotide binding or exchange. Here, we report a bead-based, flow cytometric assay that quantitatively measures the nucleotide binding properties of GST-chimeras for prototypical Ras-family members Rab7 and Rho. Measurements are possible in the presence or absence of Mg2+, with magnesium cations principally increasing affinity and slowing nucleotide dissociation rate 8- to 10-fold. GST-Rab7 exhibited a 3-fold higher affinity for GDP relative to GTP that is consistent with a 3-fold slower dissociation rate of GDP. Strikingly, GST-Rab7 had a marked preference for GTP with ribose ring-conjugated BODIPY FL. The more commonly used γ-NH-conjugated BODIPY FL GTP analogue failed to bind to GST-Rab7. In contrast, both BODIPY analogues bound equally well to GST-RhoA and GST-RhoC. Comparisons of the GST-Rab7 and GST-RhoA GTP-binding pockets provide a structural basis for the observed binding differences. In sum, the flow cytometric assay can be used to measure nucleotide binding properties of GTPases in real-time and quantitatively assess differences between GTPases.
doi:10.1016/j.ab.2008.06.039
PMCID: PMC2633595  PMID: 18638444
Rab and Rho GTPases; membrane trafficking; actin remodeling; nucleotide binding and exchange; fluorescent GTP analogues
11.  High-Throughput Multiplex Flow Cytometry Screening for Botulinum Neurotoxin Type A Light Chain Protease Inhibitors 
Given their medical importance, proteases have been studied by diverse approaches and screened for small molecule protease inhibitors. Here, we present a multiplexed microsphere-based protease assay that uses high-throughput flow cytometry to screen for inhibitors of the light chain protease of botulinum neurotoxin type A (BoNTALC). Our assay uses a full-length substrate and several deletion mutants screened in parallel to identify small molecule inhibitors. The use of multiplex flow cytometry has the advantage of using full-length substrates, which contain already identified distal-binding elements for the BoNTALC, and could lead to a new class of BoNTALC inhibitors. In this study, we have screened 880 off patent drugs and bioavailable compounds to identify ebselen as an in vitro inhibitor of BoNTALC. This discovery demonstrates the validity of our microsphere-based approach and illustrates its potential for high-throughput screening for inhibitors of proteases in general.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0219
PMCID: PMC3096553  PMID: 20035615
12.  Signature-Based Small Molecule Screening Identifies Cytosine Arabinoside as an EWS/FLI Modulator in Ewing Sarcoma 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(4):e122.
Background
The presence of tumor-specific mutations in the cancer genome represents a potential opportunity for pharmacologic intervention to therapeutic benefit. Unfortunately, many classes of oncoproteins (e.g., transcription factors) are not amenable to conventional small-molecule screening. Despite the identification of tumor-specific somatic mutations, most cancer therapy still utilizes nonspecific, cytotoxic drugs. One illustrative example is the treatment of Ewing sarcoma. Although the EWS/FLI oncoprotein, present in the vast majority of Ewing tumors, was characterized over ten years ago, it has never been exploited as a target of therapy. Previously, this target has been intractable to modulation with traditional small-molecule library screening approaches. Here we describe a gene expression–based approach to identify compounds that induce a signature of EWS/FLI attenuation. We hypothesize that screening small-molecule libraries highly enriched for FDA-approved drugs will provide a more rapid path to clinical application.
Methods and Findings
A gene expression signature for the EWS/FLI off state was determined with microarray expression profiling of Ewing sarcoma cell lines with EWS/FLI-directed RNA interference. A small-molecule library enriched for FDA-approved drugs was screened with a high-throughput, ligation-mediated amplification assay with a fluorescent, bead-based detection. Screening identified cytosine arabinoside (ARA-C) as a modulator of EWS/FLI. ARA-C reduced EWS/FLI protein abundance and accordingly diminished cell viability and transformation and abrogated tumor growth in a xenograft model. Given the poor outcomes of many patients with Ewing sarcoma and the well-established ARA-C safety profile, clinical trials testing ARA-C are warranted.
Conclusions
We demonstrate that a gene expression–based approach to small-molecule library screening can identify, for rapid clinical testing, candidate drugs that modulate previously intractable targets. Furthermore, this is a generic approach that can, in principle, be applied to the identification of modulators of any tumor-associated oncoprotein in the rare pediatric malignancies, but also in the more common adult cancers.
Todd Golub and colleagues show that a gene expression-based screen of small-molecule libraries can identify candidate drugs that modulate cancer-associated oncoproteins.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Cancer occurs when cells accumulate genetic changes (mutations) that allow them to divide uncontrollably and to travel throughout the body (metastasize). Chemotherapy, a mainstay of cancer treatments, works by killing rapidly dividing cells. Because some normal tissues also contain dividing cells and are therefore sensitive to chemotherapy drugs, it is hard to treat cancer without causing serious side effects. In recent years, however, researchers have identified some of the mutations that drive the growth of cancer cells. This raises the possibility of designing drugs that kill only cancer cells by specifically targeting “oncoproteins” (the abnormal proteins generated by mutations that transform normal cells into cancer cells). Some “targeted” drugs have already reached the clinic, but unfortunately medicinal chemists do not know how to inhibit the function of many classes of oncoproteins with the small organic molecules that make the best medicines. One oncoprotein in this category is EWS/FLI. This contains part of a protein called EWS fused to part of a transcription factor (a protein that controls cell behavior by telling the cell which proteins to make) called FLI. About 80% of patients with Ewing sarcoma (the second commonest childhood cancer of bone and soft tissue) have the mutation responsible for EWS/FLI expression. Localized Ewing sarcoma can be treated with nontargeted chemotherapy (often in combination with surgery and radiotherapy), but treatment for recurrent or metastatic disease remains very poor.
Why Was This Study Done?
Researchers have known for years that EWS/FLI expression drives the development of Ewing sarcoma by activating the expression of target genes needed for tumor formation. However, EWS/FLI has never been exploited as a target for therapy of this cancer—mainly because traditional approaches used to screen libraries of small molecules do not identify compounds that modulate the activity of transcription factors. In this study, the researchers have used a new gene expression–based, high-throughput screening (GE-HTS) approach to identify compounds that modulate the activity of EWS/FLI.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a molecular biology technique called microarray expression profiling to define a 14-gene expression signature that differentiates between Ewing sarcoma cells in which the EWS/FLI fusion protein is active and those in which it is inactive. They then used this signature to screen a library of about 1,000 chemicals (many already approved for other clinical uses) in a “ligation-mediated amplification assay.” For this, the researchers grew Ewing sarcoma cells with the test chemicals, extracted RNA from the cells, and generated a DNA copy of the RNA. They then added two short pieces of DNA (probes) specific for each signature gene to the samples. In samples that expressed a given signature gene, both probes bound and were then ligated (joined together) and amplified. Because one of each probe pair also contained a unique “capture sequence,” the signature genes expressed in each sample were finally identified by adding colored fluorescent beads, each linked to DNA complementary to a different capture sequence. The most active modulator of EWS/FLI activity identified by this GE-HTS approach was cytosine arabinoside (ARA-C). At levels achievable in people, this compound reduced the abundance of EWS/FLI protein in and the viability and cancer-like behavior of Ewing sarcoma cells growing in test tubes. ARA-C treatment also slowed the growth of Ewing sarcoma cells transplanted into mice.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings identify ARA-C, which is already used to treat children with some forms of leukemia, as a potent modulator of EWS/FLI activity. More laboratory experiments are needed to discover how ARA-C changes the behavior of Ewing sarcoma cells. Nevertheless, given the poor outcomes currently seen in many patients with Ewing sarcoma and the historical reluctance to test new drugs in children, these findings strongly support the initiation of clinical trials of ARA-C in children with Ewing sarcoma. These results also show that the GE-HTS approach is a powerful way to identify candidate drugs able to modulate the activity of some of the oncoproteins (including transcription factors and other previously intractable targets) that drive cancer development.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040122.
Cancerquest from Emory University, provides information on cancer biology (also includes information in Spanish, Chinese and Russian)
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on Ewing sarcoma
Information for patients and health professionals on Ewing sarcoma is available from the US National Cancer Institute
Cancerbackup offers information for patients and their parents on Ewing sarcoma
Wikipedia has pages on DNA microarrays and expression profiling (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040122
PMCID: PMC1851624  PMID: 17425403
13.  A High Throughput Screen for RGS Proteins Using Steady State Monitoring of Free Phosphate Formation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e62247.
G-protein coupled receptors are a diverse group that are the target of over 50% of marketed drugs. Activation of these receptors results in the exchange of bound GDP for GTP in the Gα subunit of the heterotrimeric G-protein. The Gα subunit dissociates from the β/γ subunits and both proceed to affect downstream signaling targets. The signal terminates by the hydrolysis of GTP to GDP and is temporally regulated by Regulators of G-protein Signaling (RGS) proteins that act as GTPase Activating Proteins (GAPs). This makes RGS proteins potentially desirable targets for “tuning” the effects of current therapies as well as developing novel pharmacotherapies. Current methods for evaluating RGS activity depend on laborious and/or expensive techniques. In this study we developed a simple and inexpensive assay for the steady state analysis of RGS protein GAP activity, using RGS4, RGS8 and RGS17 as models. Additionally, we report the use of RGS4 as a model for high throughput assay development. After initial setup, this assay can be conducted in a highly parallel fashion with a read time of less than 8 minutes for a 1536-well plate. The assay exhibited a robust Z-factor of 0.6 in a 1536-well plate. We conducted a pilot screen for inhibitors using a small, 2320 compound library. From this screen, 13 compounds were identified as compounds for further analysis. The successful development of this assay for high-throughput screening provides a low cost, high speed, simple method for assessing RGS protein activity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062247
PMCID: PMC3633906  PMID: 23626793
14.  Jeffamine Derivatized TentaGel Beads and PDMS Microbead Cassettes for Ultra-high Throughput in situ Releasable Solution-Phase Cell-based Screening of OBOC Combinatorial Small Molecule Libraries 
A method to efficiently immobilize and partition large quantities of microbeads in an array format in microfabricated polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) cassette for high-throughput in situ releasable solution-phase cell-based screening of one-bead-one-compound (OBOC) combinatorial libraries is described. Commercially available Jeffamine triamine T-403 (∼440 Da) was derivatized such that two of its amino groups were protected by Fmoc and the remaining amino group capped with succinic anhydride to generate a carboxyl group. This resulting tri-functional hydrophilic polymer was then sequentially coupled two times to the outer layer of topologically segregated bilayer TentaGel (TG) beads with solid phase peptide synthesis chemistry, resulting in beads with increased loading capacity, hydrophilicity and porosity at the outer layer. We have found that such bead configuration can facilitate ultra high-throughput in situ releasable solution-phase screening of OBOC libraries. An encoded releasable OBOC small molecule library was constructed on Jeffamine derivatized TG beads with library compounds tethered to the outer layer via a disulfide linker and coding tags in the interior of the beads. Compound-beads could be efficiently loaded (5-10 minutes) into a 5 cm diameter Petri dish containing a 10,000-well PDMS microbead cassette, such that over 90% of the microwells were each filled with only one compound-bead. Jurkat T-lymphoid cancer cells suspended in Matrigel® were then layered over the microbead cassette to immobilize the compound-beads. After 24 hours of incubation at 37°C, dithiothreitol was added to trigger the release of library compounds. Forty-eight hours later, MTT reporter assay was used to identify regions of reduced cell viability surrounding each positive bead. From a total of about 20,000 beads screened, 3 positive beads were detected and physically isolated for decoding. A strong consensus motif was identified for these three positive compounds. These compounds were re-synthesized and found to be cytotoxic (IC50 50-150 μM) against two T-lymphoma cell lines and less so against the MDA-MB 231 breast cancer cell line. This novel ultra high-throughput OBOC releasable method can potentially be adapted to many existing 96- or 384-well solution-phase cell-based or biochemical assays.
doi:10.1021/cc100083f
PMCID: PMC3045263  PMID: 20593859
OBOC library; combinatorial chemistry; high-throughput screening; in situ solution phase; releasable screening; cell-based screening; Jeffamine-triamine; microbead cassette
15.  A cell based high-throughput screening approach for the discovery of new inhibitors of respiratory syncytial virus 
Virology Journal  2013;10:19.
Background
Human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV) is a highly contagious pathogen and is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia for infants and children under one year of age. Worldwide, greater than 33 million children under five years of age are affected by hRSV resulting in three million hospitalizations and 200,000 deaths. However, severe lower respiratory tract disease may occur at any age, especially among the elderly or those with compromised cardiac, pulmonary, or immune systems. There is no vaccine commercially available. Existing therapies for the acute infection are ribavirin and the prophylactic humanized monoclonal antibody (Synagis® from MedImmune) that is limited to use in high risk pediatric patients. Thus, the discovery of new inhibitors for hRSV would be clinically beneficial.
Results
We have developed and validated a 384-well cell-based, high-throughput assay that measures the cytopathic effect of hRSV (strain Long) in HEp-2 cells using a luminescent-based detection system for signal endpoint (Cell Titer Glo®). The assay is sensitive and robust, with Z factors greater than 0.8, signal to background greater than 35, and signal to noise greater than 24. Utilizing this assay, 313,816 compounds from the Molecular Libraries Small Molecule Repository were screened at 10 μM. We identified 7,583 compounds that showed greater than 22% CPE inhibition in the primary screen. The top 2,500 compounds were selected for confirmation screening and 409 compounds showed at least 50% inhibition of CPE and were considered active. We selected fifty-one compounds, based on potency, selectivity and chemical tractability, for further evaluation in dose response and secondary assays Several compounds had SI50 values greater than 3, while the most active compound displayed an SI50 value of 58.9.
Conclusions
A robust automated luminescent-based high throughput screen that measures the inhibition of hRSV-induced cytopathic effect in HEp-2 cells for the rapid identification of potential inhibitors from large compound libraries has been developed, optimized and validated. The active compounds identified in the screen represent different classes of molecules, including aryl sulfonylpyrrolidines which have not been previously identified as having anti-hRSV activity.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-10-19
PMCID: PMC3621174  PMID: 23302182
Aryl sulfonylpyrrolidines; Anti-infective drugs; Automation/robotics; Cell-based assays; HTS; Human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV); Sulfonamides
16.  Analysis of multiple compound–protein interactions reveals novel bioactive molecules 
The authors use machine learning of compound-protein interactions to explore drug polypharmacology and to efficiently identify bioactive ligands, including novel scaffold-hopping compounds for two pharmaceutically important protein families: G-protein coupled receptors and protein kinases.
We have demonstrated that machine learning of multiple compound–protein interactions is useful for efficient ligand screening and for assessing drug polypharmacology.This approach successfully identified novel scaffold-hopping compounds for two pharmaceutically important protein families: G-protein-coupled receptors and protein kinases.These bioactive compounds were not detected by existing computational ligand-screening methods in comparative studies.The results of this study indicate that data derived from chemical genomics can be highly useful for exploring chemical space, and this systems biology perspective could accelerate drug discovery processes.
The discovery of novel bioactive molecules advances our systems-level understanding of biological processes and is crucial for innovation in drug development. Perturbations of biological systems by chemical probes provide broader applications not only for analysis of complex systems but also for intentional manipulations of these systems. Nevertheless, the lack of well-characterized chemical modulators has limited their use. Recently, chemical genomics has emerged as a promising area of research applicable to the exploration of novel bioactive molecules, and researchers are currently striving toward the identification of all possible ligands for all target protein families (Wang et al, 2009). Chemical genomics studies have shown that patterns of compound–protein interactions (CPIs) are too diverse to be understood as simple one-to-one events. There is an urgent need to develop appropriate data mining methods for characterizing and visualizing the full complexity of interactions between chemical space and biological systems. However, no existing screening approach has so far succeeded in identifying novel bioactive compounds using multiple interactions among compounds and target proteins.
High-throughput screening (HTS) and computational screening have greatly aided in the identification of early lead compounds for drug discovery. However, the large number of assays required for HTS to identify drugs that target multiple proteins render this process very costly and time-consuming. Therefore, interest in using in silico strategies for screening has increased. The most common computational approaches, ligand-based virtual screening (LBVS) and structure-based virtual screening (SBVS; Oprea and Matter, 2004; Muegge and Oloff, 2006; McInnes, 2007; Figure 1A), have been used for practical drug development. LBVS aims to identify molecules that are very similar to known active molecules and generally has difficulty identifying compounds with novel structural scaffolds that differ from reference molecules. The other popular strategy, SBVS, is constrained by the number of three-dimensional crystallographic structures available. To circumvent these limitations, we have shown that a new computational screening strategy, chemical genomics-based virtual screening (CGBVS), has the potential to identify novel, scaffold-hopping compounds and assess their polypharmacology by using a machine-learning method to recognize conserved molecular patterns in comprehensive CPI data sets.
The CGBVS strategy used in this study was made up of five steps: CPI data collection, descriptor calculation, representation of interaction vectors, predictive model construction using training data sets, and predictions from test data (Figure 1A). Importantly, step 1, the construction of a data set of chemical structures and protein sequences for known CPIs, did not require the three-dimensional protein structures needed for SBVS. In step 2, compound structures and protein sequences were converted into numerical descriptors. These descriptors were used to construct chemical or biological spaces in which decreasing distance between vectors corresponded to increasing similarity of compound structures or protein sequences. In step 3, we represented multiple CPI patterns by concatenating these chemical and protein descriptors. Using these interaction vectors, we could quantify the similarity of molecular interactions for compound–protein pairs, despite the fact that the ligand and protein similarity maps differed substantially. In step 4, concatenated vectors for CPI pairs (positive samples) and non-interacting pairs (negative samples) were input into an established machine-learning method. In the final step, the classifier constructed using training sets was applied to test data.
To evaluate the predictive value of CGBVS, we first compared its performance with that of LBVS by fivefold cross-validation. CGBVS performed with considerably higher accuracy (91.9%) than did LBVS (84.4%; Figure 1B). We next compared CGBVS and SBVS in a retrospective virtual screening based on the human β2-adrenergic receptor (ADRB2). Figure 1C shows that CGBVS provided higher hit rates than did SBVS. These results suggest that CGBVS is more successful than conventional approaches for prediction of CPIs.
We then evaluated the ability of the CGBVS method to predict the polypharmacology of ADRB2 by attempting to identify novel ADRB2 ligands from a group of G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) ligands. We ranked the prediction scores for the interactions of 826 reported GPCR ligands with ADRB2 and then analyzed the 50 highest-ranked compounds in greater detail. Of 21 commercially available compounds, 11 showed ADRB2-binding activity and were not previously reported to be ADRB2 ligands. These compounds included ligands not only for aminergic receptors but also for neuropeptide Y-type 1 receptors (NPY1R), which have low protein homology to ADRB2. Most ligands we identified were not detected by LBVS and SBVS, which suggests that only CGBVS could identify this unexpected cross-reaction for a ligand developed as a target to a peptidergic receptor.
The true value of CGBVS in drug discovery must be tested by assessing whether this method can identify scaffold-hopping lead compounds from a set of compounds that is structurally more diverse. To assess this ability, we analyzed 11 500 commercially available compounds to predict compounds likely to bind to two GPCRs and two protein kinases. Functional assays revealed that nine ADRB2 ligands, three NPY1R ligands, five epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors, and two cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2) inhibitors were concentrated in the top-ranked compounds (hit rate=30, 15, 25, and 10%, respectively). We also evaluated the extent of scaffold hopping achieved in the identification of these novel ligands. One ADRB2 ligand, two NPY1R ligands, and one CDK2 inhibitor exhibited scaffold hopping (Figure 4), indicating that CGBVS can use this characteristic to rationally predict novel lead compounds, a crucial and very difficult step in drug discovery. This feature of CGBVS is critically different from existing predictive methods, such as LBVS, which depend on similarities between test and reference ligands, and focus on a single protein or highly homologous proteins. In particular, CGBVS is useful for targets with undefined ligands because this method can use CPIs with target proteins that exhibit lower levels of homology.
In summary, we have demonstrated that data mining of multiple CPIs is of great practical value for exploration of chemical space. As a predictive model, CGBVS could provide an important step in the discovery of such multi-target drugs by identifying the group of proteins targeted by a particular ligand, leading to innovation in pharmaceutical research.
The discovery of novel bioactive molecules advances our systems-level understanding of biological processes and is crucial for innovation in drug development. For this purpose, the emerging field of chemical genomics is currently focused on accumulating large assay data sets describing compound–protein interactions (CPIs). Although new target proteins for known drugs have recently been identified through mining of CPI databases, using these resources to identify novel ligands remains unexplored. Herein, we demonstrate that machine learning of multiple CPIs can not only assess drug polypharmacology but can also efficiently identify novel bioactive scaffold-hopping compounds. Through a machine-learning technique that uses multiple CPIs, we have successfully identified novel lead compounds for two pharmaceutically important protein families, G-protein-coupled receptors and protein kinases. These novel compounds were not identified by existing computational ligand-screening methods in comparative studies. The results of this study indicate that data derived from chemical genomics can be highly useful for exploring chemical space, and this systems biology perspective could accelerate drug discovery processes.
doi:10.1038/msb.2011.5
PMCID: PMC3094066  PMID: 21364574
chemical genomics; data mining; drug discovery; ligand screening; systems chemical biology
17.  Development and Validation of a Quantitative, High-Throughput, Fluorescent-Based Bioassay to Detect Schistosoma Viability 
Background
Schistosomiasis, caused by infection with the blood fluke Schistosoma, is responsible for greater than 200,000 human deaths per annum. Objective high-throughput screens for detecting novel anti-schistosomal targets will drive ‘genome to drug’ lead translational science at an unprecedented rate. Current methods for detecting schistosome viability rely on qualitative microscopic criteria, which require an understanding of parasite morphology, and most importantly, must be subjectively interpreted. These limitations, in the current state of the art, have significantly impeded progress into whole schistosome screening for next generation chemotherapies.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We present here a microtiter plate-based method for reproducibly detecting schistosomula viability that takes advantage of the differential uptake of fluorophores (propidium iodide and fluorescein diacetate) by living organisms. We validate this high-throughput system in detecting schistosomula viability using auranofin (a known inhibitor of thioredoxin glutathione reductase), praziquantel and a range of small compounds with previously-described (gambogic acid, sodium salinomycin, ethinyl estradiol, fluoxetidine hydrochloride, miconazole nitrate, chlorpromazine hydrochloride, amphotericin b, niclosamide) or suggested (bepridil, ciclopirox, rescinnamine, flucytosine, vinblastine and carbidopa) anti-schistosomal activities. This developed method is sensitive (200 schistosomula/well can be assayed), relevant to industrial (384-well microtiter plate compatibility) and academic (96-well microtiter plate compatibility) settings, translatable to functional genomics screens and drug assays, does not require a priori knowledge of schistosome biology and is quantitative.
Conclusions/Significance
The wide-scale application of this fluorescence-based bioassay will greatly accelerate the objective identification of novel therapeutic lead targets/compounds to combat schistosomiasis. Adapting this bioassay for use with other parasitic worm species further offers an opportunity for great strides to be made against additional neglected tropical diseases of biomedical and veterinary importance.
Author Summary
With only one effective drug, praziquantel, currently used to treat most worldwide cases of schistosomiasis, there exists a pressing need to identify alternative anthelmintics before the development of praziquantel-resistant schistosomes removes our ability to combat this neglected tropical disease. At present, the most widely adopted methodology used to identify promising new anti-schistosome compounds relies on time consuming and subjective microscopic examination of parasite viability in response to in vitro schistosome/compound co-culturing. In our continued effort to identify novel drug and vaccine targets, we detail a dual-fluorescence bioassay that can objectively be used for assessing Schistosoma mansoni schistosomula viability in a medium or high- throughput manner to suit either academic or industrial settings. The described methodology replaces subjectivity with sensitivity and provides an enabling technology useful for rapid in vitro screens of both natural and synthetic compound libraries. It is expected that results obtained from these quantifiable in vitro screens would prioritize the most effective anti-schistosomal compounds for follow-up in vivo experimentation. This highly-adaptable dual-fluorescence bioassay could be integrated with other methods for measuring schistosome phenotype and, together, be used to greatly accelerate our search for novel anthelmintics.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000759
PMCID: PMC2910722  PMID: 20668553
18.  RNAi screen of Salmonella invasion shows role of COPI in membrane targeting of cholesterol and Cdc42 
A genome wide RNAi screen identifies 72 host cell genes affecting S. Typhimurium entry, including actin regulators and COPI. This study implicates COPI-dependent cholesterol and sphingolipid localization as a common mechanism of infection by bacterial and viral pathogens.
Genome-scale RNAi screen identifies 72 host genes affecting S. Typhimurium host cell invasion.Step-specific follow-up assays assign the phenotypes to specific steps of the invasion process.COPI effects on host cell binding, ruffling and invasion were traced to a key role of COPI in membrane targeting of cholesterol, sphingolipids, Rac1 and Cdc42.This new role of COPI explains why COPI is required for host cell infection by numerous bacterial and viral pathogens.
Pathogens are not only a menace to public health, but they also provide excellent tools for probing host cell function. Thus, studying infection mechanisms has fueled progress in cell biology (Ridley et al, 1992; Welch et al, 1997). In the presented study, we have performed an RNAi screen to identify host cell genes required for Salmonella host cell invasion. This screen identified proteins known to contribute to Salmonella-induced actin rearrangements (e.g., Cdc42 and the Arp2/3 complex; reviewed in Schlumberger and Hardt, 2006) and vesicular traffic (e.g., Rab7) as well as unexpected hits, such as the COPI complex. COPI is a known organizer of Golgi-to-ER vesicle transport (Bethune et al, 2006; Beck et al, 2009). Here, we show that COPI is also involved in plasma membrane targeting of cholesterol, sphingolipids and the Rho GTPases Cdc42 and Rac1, essential host cell factors required for Salmonella invasion. This explains why COPI depletion inhibits infection by S. Typhimurium and illustrates how combining bacterial pathogenesis and systems approaches can promote cell biology.
Salmonella Typhimurium is a common food-borne pathogen and worldwide a major public health problem causing severe diarrhea. The pathogen uses the host's gut mucosa as a portal of entry and gut tissue invasion is a key event leading to the disease. This explains the intense interest from medicine and basic biology in the mechanism of Salmonella host cell invasion.
Tissue culture infection models have delineated a sequence of events leading host cell invasion (Figure 1; Schlumberger and Hardt, 2006): (i) pathogen binding to the host cell surface; (ii) activation of a syringe-like apparatus (‘Type III secretion system 1', T1) of the bacterium and injection of a bacterial toxin cocktail into the host cell. These toxins include SopE, a key virulence factor triggering invasion (Hardt et al, 1998), which was analyzed in our study; (iii) toxin-triggered membrane ruffling. To a significant extent, this is facilitated by SopE-triggered activation of Cdc42 and Rac1 and subsequent actin polymerization at the site of infection; (iv) engulfment of the pathogen within a vesicular compartment (SCV) and (v) maturation of the SCV, a process driven by a second Type III secretion system (T2), which is expressed by the pathogen upon bacterial entry (Figure 1). This sequence of events mediates Salmonella invasion into the gut epithelium and illustrates that this pathogen can be used for probing mechanisms of host cell actin control, membrane biogenesis, vesicle formation and vesicular trafficking.
SopE is a key virulence factor of invasion and triggers the activation of Cdc42 and Rac1 and subsequent actin polymerization at the site of infection. We have employed a SopE-expressing S. Typhimurium strain and RNAi screening technology to identify host cell factors affecting invasion. First, we developed an automated fluorescence microscopy assay to quantify S. Typhimurium entry in a high-throughput format (Figure 1C). This assay was based on a GFP reporter expressed by the pathogen after invasion and maturation of the SCV. Using this assay, we screened a ‘druggable genome' siRNA library (6978 genes, 3 oligos each, 1 oligo per well) and identified 72 invasion hits. These included established regulators of the actin cytoskeleton (Cdc42, Arp2/3, Nap1; Schlumberger and Hardt, 2006), some of which have not been implicated so far in Salmonella entry (Pfn1, Cap1), as well as proteins not previously thought to influence infection (Atp1a1, Rbx1, COPI complex). Potentially, these hits could affect any step of the invasion process (Figure 1A).
In the second stage of the study, we have assigned each ‘invasion hit' to particular steps of the invasion process. For this purpose, we developed step-specific assays for Salmonella binding, injection, ruffling and membrane engulfment and re-screened the genes found as hits in the first screen (four siRNAs per gene). As expected, a significant number of ‘hits' affected binding to the host cell, others affected binding and ruffling (e.g., Pfn1, Itgβ5, Cap1), a few were specific for the ruffling step (e.g., Cdc42) and some affected SCV maturation, namely Rab7a, the trafficking protein Vps39 and the vacuolar proton pump Atp6ap2. Thus, our experimental strategy allowed mechanistic interpretation and linked novel hits to particular phenotypes, thus providing a basis for further studies (Figure 1).
COPI depletion impaired effector injection and ruffling. This was surprising, as the COPI complex was known to regulate retrogade Golgi-to-ER transport, but was not expected to affect pathogen interactions at the plasma membrane. Therefore, we have investigated the underlying mechanism. We have observed that COPI depletion entailed dramatic changes in the plasma membrane composition (Figure 6). Cholesterol and sphingolipids, which form domains (‘lipid rafts') in the plasma membrane, were depleted from the cell surface and redirected into a large vesicular compartment. The same was true for the Rho GTPases Rac1 and Cdc42. This strong decrease in the amount of cholesterol-enriched microdomains and Rho GTPases in the plasma membrane explained the observed defects in S. Typhimurium host cell invasion and assigned a novel role for COPI in controlling mammalian plasma membrane composition. It should be noted that other viral and bacterial pathogens do show a similar dependency on host cellular COPI and plasma membrane lipids. This includes notorious pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus (Ramet et al, 2002; Potrich et al, 2009), Listeria monocytogenes (Seveau et al, 2004; Agaisse et al, 2005; Cheng et al, 2005; Gekara et al, 2005), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Munoz et al, 2009), Chlamydia trachomatis (Elwell et al, 2008), influenza virus (Hao et al, 2008; Konig et al, 2010), hepatitis C virus (Tai et al, 2009; Popescu and Dubuisson, 2010) and the vesicular stomatitis virus (presented study) and suggests that COPI-mediated control of host cell plasma membrane composition might be of broad importance for pathogenesis. Future work will have to address whether this might offer starting points for developing anti-infective therapeutics with a very broad spectrum of activity.
The pathogen Salmonella Typhimurium is a common cause of diarrhea and invades the gut tissue by injecting a cocktail of virulence factors into epithelial cells, triggering actin rearrangements, membrane ruffling and pathogen entry. One of these factors is SopE, a G-nucleotide exchange factor for the host cellular Rho GTPases Rac1 and Cdc42. How SopE mediates cellular invasion is incompletely understood. Using genome-scale RNAi screening we identified 72 known and novel host cell proteins affecting SopE-mediated entry. Follow-up assays assigned these ‘hits' to particular steps of the invasion process; i.e., binding, effector injection, membrane ruffling, membrane closure and maturation of the Salmonella-containing vacuole. Depletion of the COPI complex revealed a unique effect on virulence factor injection and membrane ruffling. Both effects are attributable to mislocalization of cholesterol, sphingolipids, Rac1 and Cdc42 away from the plasma membrane into a large intracellular compartment. Equivalent results were obtained with the vesicular stomatitis virus. Therefore, COPI-facilitated maintenance of lipids may represent a novel, unifying mechanism essential for a wide range of pathogens, offering opportunities for designing new drugs.
doi:10.1038/msb.2011.7
PMCID: PMC3094068  PMID: 21407211
coatomer; HeLa; Salmonella; siRNA; systems biology
19.  Identification of Novel Compounds Inhibiting Chikungunya Virus-Induced Cell Death by High Throughput Screening of a Kinase Inhibitor Library 
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-borne arthrogenic alphavirus that causes acute febrile illness in humans accompanied by joint pains and in many cases, persistent arthralgia lasting weeks to years. The re-emergence of CHIKV has resulted in numerous outbreaks in the eastern hemisphere, and threatens to expand in the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, no effective treatment is currently available. The present study reports the use of resazurin in a cell-based high-throughput assay, and an image-based high-content assay to identify and characterize inhibitors of CHIKV-infection in vitro. CHIKV is a highly cytopathic virus that rapidly kills infected cells. Thus, cell viability of HuH-7 cells infected with CHIKV in the presence of compounds was determined by measuring metabolic reduction of resazurin to identify inhibitors of CHIKV-associated cell death. A kinase inhibitor library of 4,000 compounds was screened against CHIKV infection of HuH-7 cells using the resazurin reduction assay, and the cell toxicity was also measured in non-infected cells. Seventy-two compounds showing ≥50% inhibition property against CHIKV at 10 µM were selected as primary hits. Four compounds having a benzofuran core scaffold (CND0335, CND0364, CND0366 and CND0415), one pyrrolopyridine (CND0545) and one thiazol-carboxamide (CND3514) inhibited CHIKV-associated cell death in a dose-dependent manner, with EC50 values between 2.2 µM and 7.1 µM. Based on image analysis, these 6 hit compounds did not inhibit CHIKV replication in the host cell. However, CHIKV-infected cells manifested less prominent apoptotic blebs typical of CHIKV cytopathic effect compared with the control infection. Moreover, treatment with these compounds reduced viral titers in the medium of CHIKV-infected cells by up to 100-fold. In conclusion, this cell-based high-throughput screening assay using resazurin, combined with the image-based high content assay approach identified compounds against CHIKV having a novel antiviral activity - inhibition of virus-induced CPE - likely by targeting kinases involved in apoptosis.
Author Summary
Recent outbreaks and expanding global distribution of Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) in different regions of Asia, Africa and Europe necessitates the development of effective therapeutic interventions. At present, only two antiviral compounds (chloroquine and ribavirin) that inhibit viral infection in vitro have been used in clinical cases of chikungunya infections. However, neither of these compounds have shown strong efficacy in vivo. Recent attempts to identify new antiviral candidates for CHIKV using cell-based phenotypic approach have been reported. In this study, we developed a simple cell-based high-throughput assay using resazurin to identify potential anti-CHIKV compounds. This high-throughput assay is based on the metabolic reduction of resazurin to the highly fluorescent resorufin by viable cells as an indicator of activity against CHIKV-induced CPE. We screened 4,000 small molecules belonging to the BioFocus kinase inhibitor chemical library and found a cluster of related molecules with antiviral activity against CHIKV. Finally, we characterized the putative mode of action of these active compounds using an image-based high content assay and conventional virological methods (i.e., virus yield reduction assay, microneutralization assay).
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002471
PMCID: PMC3814572  PMID: 24205414
20.  Structural and functional protein network analyses predict novel signaling functions for rhodopsin 
Proteomic analyses, literature mining, and structural data were combined to generate an extensive signaling network linked to the visual G protein-coupled receptor rhodopsin. Network analysis suggests novel signaling routes to cytoskeleton dynamics and vesicular trafficking.
Using a shotgun proteomic approach, we identified the protein inventory of the light sensing outer segment of the mammalian photoreceptor.These data, combined with literature mining, structural modeling, and computational analysis, offer a comprehensive view of signal transduction downstream of the visual G protein-coupled receptor rhodopsin.The network suggests novel signaling branches downstream of rhodopsin to cytoskeleton dynamics and vesicular trafficking.The network serves as a basis for elucidating physiological principles of photoreceptor function and suggests potential disease-associated proteins.
Photoreceptor cells are neurons capable of converting light into electrical signals. The rod outer segment (ROS) region of the photoreceptor cells is a cellular structure made of a stack of around 800 closed membrane disks loaded with rhodopsin (Liang et al, 2003; Nickell et al, 2007). In disc membranes, rhodopsin arranges itself into paracrystalline dimer arrays, enabling optimal association with the heterotrimeric G protein transducin as well as additional regulatory components (Ciarkowski et al, 2005). Disruption of these highly regulated structures and processes by germline mutations is the cause of severe blinding diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, or congenital stationary night blindness (Berger et al, 2010).
Traditionally, signal transduction networks have been studied by combining biochemical and genetic experiments addressing the relations among a small number of components. More recently, large throughput experiments using different techniques like two hybrid or co-immunoprecipitation coupled to mass spectrometry have added a new level of complexity (Ito et al, 2001; Gavin et al, 2002, 2006; Ho et al, 2002; Rual et al, 2005; Stelzl et al, 2005). However, in these studies, space, time, and the fact that many interactions detected for a particular protein are not compatible, are not taken into consideration. Structural information can help discriminate between direct and indirect interactions and more importantly it can determine if two or more predicted partners of any given protein or complex can simultaneously bind a target or rather compete for the same interaction surface (Kim et al, 2006).
In this work, we build a functional and dynamic interaction network centered on rhodopsin on a systems level, using six steps: In step 1, we experimentally identified the proteomic inventory of the porcine ROS, and we compared our data set with a recent proteomic study from bovine ROS (Kwok et al, 2008). The union of the two data sets was defined as the ‘initial experimental ROS proteome'. After removal of contaminants and applying filtering methods, a ‘core ROS proteome', consisting of 355 proteins, was defined.
In step 2, proteins of the core ROS proteome were assigned to six functional modules: (1) vision, signaling, transporters, and channels; (2) outer segment structure and morphogenesis; (3) housekeeping; (4) cytoskeleton and polarity; (5) vesicles formation and trafficking, and (6) metabolism.
In step 3, a protein-protein interaction network was constructed based on the literature mining. Since for most of the interactions experimental evidence was co-immunoprecipitation, or pull-down experiments, and in addition many of the edges in the network are supported by single experimental evidence, often derived from high-throughput approaches, we refer to this network, as ‘fuzzy ROS interactome'. Structural information was used to predict binary interactions, based on the finding that similar domain pairs are likely to interact in a similar way (‘nature repeats itself') (Aloy and Russell, 2002). To increase the confidence in the resulting network, edges supported by a single evidence not coming from yeast two-hybrid experiments were removed, exception being interactions where the evidence was the existence of a three-dimensional structure of the complex itself, or of a highly homologous complex. This curated static network (‘high-confidence ROS interactome') comprises 660 edges linking the majority of the nodes. By considering only edges supported by at least one evidence of direct binary interaction, we end up with a ‘high-confidence binary ROS interactome'. We next extended the published core pathway (Dell'Orco et al, 2009) using evidence from our high-confidence network. We find several new direct binary links to different cellular functional processes (Figure 4): the active rhodopsin interacts with Rac1 and the GTP form of Rho. There is also a connection between active rhodopsin and Arf4, as well as PDEδ with Rab13 and the GTP-bound form of Arl3 that links the vision cycle to vesicle trafficking and structure. We see a connection between PDEδ with prenyl-modified proteins, such as several small GTPases, as well as with rhodopsin kinase. Further, our network reveals several direct binary connections between Ca2+-regulated proteins and cytoskeleton proteins; these are CaMK2A with actinin, calmodulin with GAP43 and S1008, and PKC with 14-3-3 family members.
In step 4, part of the network was experimentally validated using three different approaches to identify physical protein associations that would occur under physiological conditions: (i) Co-segregation/co-sedimentation experiments, (ii) immunoprecipitations combined with mass spectrometry and/or subsequent immunoblotting, and (iii) utilizing the glycosylated N-terminus of rhodopsin to isolate its associated protein partners by Concanavalin A affinity purification. In total, 60 co-purification and co-elution experiments supported interactions that were already in our literature network, and new evidence from 175 co-IP experiments in this work was added. Next, we aimed to provide additional independent experimental confirmation for two of the novel networks and functional links proposed based on the network analysis: (i) the proposed complex between Rac1/RhoA/CRMP-2/tubulin/and ROCK II in ROS was investigated by culturing retinal explants in the presence of an ROCK II-specific inhibitor (Figure 6). While morphology of the retinas treated with ROCK II inhibitor appeared normal, immunohistochemistry analyses revealed several alterations on the protein level. (ii) We supported the hypothesis that PDEδ could function as a GDI for Rac1 in ROS, by demonstrating that PDEδ and Rac1 co localize in ROS and that PDEδ could dissociate Rac1 from ROS membranes in vitro.
In step 5, we use structural information to distinguish between mutually compatible (‘AND') or excluded (‘XOR') interactions. This enables breaking a network of nodes and edges into functional machines or sub-networks/modules. In the vision branch, both ‘AND' and ‘XOR' gates synergize. This may allow dynamic tuning of light and dark states. However, all connections from the vision module to other modules are ‘XOR' connections suggesting that competition, in connection with local protein concentration changes, could be important for transmitting signals from the core vision module.
In the last step, we map and functionally characterize the known mutations that produce blindness.
In summary, this represents the first comprehensive, dynamic, and integrative rhodopsin signaling network, which can be the basis for integrating and mapping newly discovered disease mutants, to guide protein or signaling branch-specific therapies.
Orchestration of signaling, photoreceptor structural integrity, and maintenance needed for mammalian vision remain enigmatic. By integrating three proteomic data sets, literature mining, computational analyses, and structural information, we have generated a multiscale signal transduction network linked to the visual G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) rhodopsin, the major protein component of rod outer segments. This network was complemented by domain decomposition of protein–protein interactions and then qualified for mutually exclusive or mutually compatible interactions and ternary complex formation using structural data. The resulting information not only offers a comprehensive view of signal transduction induced by this GPCR but also suggests novel signaling routes to cytoskeleton dynamics and vesicular trafficking, predicting an important level of regulation through small GTPases. Further, it demonstrates a specific disease susceptibility of the core visual pathway due to the uniqueness of its components present mainly in the eye. As a comprehensive multiscale network, it can serve as a basis to elucidate the physiological principles of photoreceptor function, identify potential disease-associated genes and proteins, and guide the development of therapies that target specific branches of the signaling pathway.
doi:10.1038/msb.2011.83
PMCID: PMC3261702  PMID: 22108793
protein interaction network; rhodopsin signaling; structural modeling
21.  Discovery of Selective Probes and Antagonists for G Protein-Coupled Receptors FPR/FPRL1 and GPR30 
Recent technological advances in flow cytometry provide a versatile platform for high throughput screening of compound libraries coupled with high-content biological testing and drug discovery. The G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) constitute the largest class of signaling molecules in the human genome with frequent roles in disease pathogenesis, yet many examples of orphan receptors with unknown ligands remain. The complex biology and potential for drug discovery within this class provide strong incentives for chemical biology approaches seeking to develop small molecule probes to facilitate elucidation of mechanistic pathways and enable specific manipulation of the activity of individual receptors. We have initiated small molecule probe development projects targeting two distinct families of GPCRs: the formylpeptide receptors (FPR/FPRL1) and G protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPR30). In each case the assay for compound screening involved the development of an appropriate small molecule fluorescent probe, and the flow cytometry platform provided inherently biological rich assays that enhanced the process of identification and optimization of novel antagonists. The contributions of cheminformatics analysis tools, virtual screening, and synthetic chemistry in synergy with the biomolecular screening program have yielded valuable new chemical probes with high binding affinity, selectivity for the targeted receptor, and potent antagonist activity. This review describes the discovery of novel small molecule antagonists of FPR and FPRL1, and GPR30, and the associated characterization process involving secondary assays, cell based and in vivo studies to define the selectivity and activity of the resulting chemical probes
PMCID: PMC2885834  PMID: 19807662
flow cytometry; fluorescent; GPCR; formylpeptide receptor; inflammation; GPR30; GPER; estrogen; nongenomic; cancer; antidepressant
22.  Duplex High Throughput Flow Cytometry Screen Identifies Two Novel Formylpeptide Receptor Family Probes1 
Introduction
Of recent clinical interest have been two related human G-protein coupled receptors: formylpeptide receptor (FPR), linked to anti-bacterial inflammation and malignant glioma cell metastasis; and formylpeptide receptor like-1 (FPRL1), linked to chronic inflammation in systemic amyloidosis, Alzheimer’s disease and prion diseases. In association with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Molecular Library Screening Network, we implemented a flow cytometry based high throughput screening (HTS) approach for identifying selective small molecule FPR and FPRL1 ligands.
Methods
The screening assay measured the ability of test compounds to competitively displace a high-affinity, fluorescein-labeled peptide ligand from FPR, FPRL1 or both. U937 cells expressing FPR and RBL cells expressing FPRL1 were tested together in a “duplex” format. The U937 cells were color-coded with red fluorescent dye allowing their distinction during analysis. Compounds, cells and fluorescent ligand were sequentially combined (no-wash) in 15 μL assay volumes in 384-well plates. Throughput averaged ∼11 min per plate to analyze ∼4000 cells (∼2000/receptor) in a 2 μL aspirate from each well.
Results/Conclusions
In primary single concentration HTS of 24,304 NIH Small Molecule Repository compounds, 253 resulted in inhibition >30% (181 for FPR, 72 for FPRL1) of which 40 had selective binding inhibition constants (Ki) ≤ 4 μM (34 for FPR and 6 for FPRL1). An additional 1,446 candidate compounds were selected by structure-activity -relationship analysis of the hits and screened to identify novel ligands for FPR (3570-0208, Ki= 95 ± 10 nM) and FPRL1 (BB-V-115, Ki= 270 ± 51 nM). Each was a selective antagonist in calcium response assays and the most potent small molecule antagonist reported for its respective receptor to date. The duplex assay format reduced assay time, minimized reagent requirements, and provided selectivity information at every screening stage, thus proving to be an efficient means to screen for selective receptor ligand probes.
doi:10.1002/cyto.a.20645
PMCID: PMC2645486  PMID: 18785269
23.  A 1536-well Fluorescence Polarization Assay to Screen for Modulators of the MUSASHI Family of RNA-Binding Proteins 
RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) can act as stem cell modulators and oncogenic drivers, but have been largely ignored by the pharmaceutical industry as potential therapeutic targets for cancer. The MUSASHI (MSI) family has recently been demonstrated to be an attractive clinical target in the most aggressive cancers. Therefore, the discovery and development of small molecule inhibitors could provide a novel therapeutic strategy. In order to find novel compounds with MSI RNA binding inhibitory activity, we have developed a fluorescence polarization (FP) assay and optimized it for high throughput screening (HTS) in a 1536-well microtiter plate format. Using a chemical library of 6,208 compounds, we performed pilot screens, against both MSI1 and MSI2, leading to the identification of 7 molecules for MSI1, 15 for MSI2 and 5 that inhibited both. A secondary FP dose-response screen validated 3 MSI inhibitors with IC50 below 10μM. Out of the 25 compounds retested in the secondary screen only 8 demonstrated optical interference due to high fluorescence. Utilizing a SYBR-based RNA electrophoresis mobility shift assay (EMSA), we further verified MSI inhibition of the top 3 compounds. Surprisingly, even though several aminoglycosides were present in the library, they failed to demonstrate MSI inhibitor activity challenging the concept that these compounds are pan-active against RBPs. In summary, we have developed an in vitro strategy to identify MSI specific inhibitors using an FP HTS platform, which will facilitate novel drug discovery for this class of RBPs.
PMCID: PMC4135234  PMID: 24912481
RNA-binding protein; MUSASHI; HTS; fluorescence polarization; cancer; small-molecule inhibitors
24.  Assay Strategies for the Discovery and Validation of Therapeutics Targeting Brugia pahangi Hsp90 
The chemotherapy of lymphatic filariasis relies upon drugs such as diethylcarbamazine and ivermectin that largely target the microfilarial stages of the parasite, necessitating continued treatment over the long reproductive life span of the adult worm. The identification of compounds that target adult worms has been a long-term goal of WHO. Here we describe a fluorescence polarization assay for the identification of compounds that target Hsp90 in adult filarial worms. The assay was originally developed to identify inhibitors of Hsp90 in tumor cells, and relies upon the ability of small molecules to inhibit the binding of fluorescently labelled geldanamycin to Hsp90. We demonstrate that the assay works well with soluble extracts of Brugia, while extracts of the free-living nematode C. elegans fail to bind the probe, in agreement with data from other experiments. The assay was validated using known inhibitors of Hsp90 that compete with geldanamycin for binding to Hsp90, including members of the synthetic purine-scaffold series of compounds. The efficacy of some of these compounds against adult worms was confirmed in vitro. Moreover, the assay is sufficiently sensitive to differentiate between binding of purine-scaffold compounds to human and Brugia Hsp90. The assay is suitable for high-throughput screening and provides the first example of a format with the potential to identify novel inhibitors of Hsp90 in filarial worms and in other parasitic species where Hsp90 may be a target.
Author Summary
Helminth diseases of humans remain a major problem in many parts of the tropics. Treatment of these parasitic infections is restricted to a limited number of drugs and few new compounds are in development. One of the major obstacles to the development of new therapeutics is the lack of high-throughput screens that can be adapted to parasitic species for the identification of small molecule inhibitors. Here we present a simple, inexpensive assay for the identification of inhibitors of Hsp90 in filarial worms. The assay, first described for the identification of Hsp90 inhibitors in tumor cells, does not require recombinant protein but relies upon the ability of a fluorescently labelled drug to bind to Hsp90 in the context of a soluble fraction of worm homogenate. We validated the assay using known inhibitors of Hsp90, including derivatives of the synthetic purine-scaffold series of Hsp90 inhibitors and were able to show a differential sensitivity to these compounds between human and Brugia Hsp90.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000714
PMCID: PMC2886105  PMID: 20559560
25.  Screening Compounds with a Novel High-Throughput ABCB1-Mediated Efflux Assay Identifies Drugs with Known Therapeutic Targets at Risk for Multidrug Resistance Interference 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60334.
ABCB1, also known as P-glycoprotein (P-gp) or multidrug resistance protein 1 (MDR1), is a membrane-associated multidrug transporter of the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter family. It is one of the most widely studied transporters that enable cancer cells to develop drug resistance. Reliable high-throughput assays that can identify compounds that interact with ABCB1 are crucial for developing new therapeutic drugs. A high-throughput assay for measuring ABCB1-mediated calcein AM efflux was developed using a fluorescent and phase-contrast live cell imaging system. This assay demonstrated the time- and dose-dependent accumulation of fluorescent calcein in ABCB1-overexpressing KB-V1 cells. Validation of the assay was performed with known ABCB1 inhibitors, XR9576, verapamil, and cyclosporin A, all of which displayed dose-dependent inhibition of ABCB1-mediated calcein AM efflux in this assay. Phase-contrast and fluorescent images taken by the imaging system provided additional opportunities for evaluating compounds that are cytotoxic or produce false positive signals. Compounds with known therapeutic targets and a kinase inhibitor library were screened. The assay identified multiple agents as inhibitors of ABCB1-mediated efflux and is highly reproducible. Among compounds identified as ABCB1 inhibitors, BEZ235, BI 2536, IKK 16, and ispinesib were further evaluated. The four compounds inhibited calcein AM efflux in a dose-dependent manner and were also active in the flow cytometry-based calcein AM efflux assay. BEZ235, BI 2536, and IKK 16 also successfully inhibited the labeling of ABCB1 with radiolabeled photoaffinity substrate [125I]iodoarylazidoprazosin. Inhibition of ABCB1 with XR9576 and cyclosporin A enhanced the cytotoxicity of BI 2536 to ABCB1-overexpressing cancer cells, HCT-15-Pgp, and decreased the IC50 value of BI 2536 by several orders of magnitude. This efficient, reliable, and simple high-throughput assay has identified ABCB1 substrates/inhibitors that may influence drug potency or drug-drug interactions and predict multidrug resistance in clinical treatment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060334
PMCID: PMC3622673  PMID: 23593196

Results 1-25 (1231593)