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1.  The Total Synthesis and Biological Mode of Action of Largazole: A Potent Class I Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) Inhibitor 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2008;130(33):11219-11222.
The efficient total synthesis of the recently described natural substance largazole (1) and it’s active metabolite largazole thiol (2) is described. The synthesis required eight linear steps and proceeded in 37% overall yield. It is demonstrated that largazole is a pro-drug, that is activated by removal of the octanoyl residue from the 3-hydroxy-7-mercaptohept-4-enoic acid moiety to generate the active metabolite largazole thiol (2) which is an extraordinarily potent Class I histone deacetylase inhibitor. Synthetic largazole and the largazole thiol (2) have been evaluated side-by-side with FK228 and SAHA for inhibition of HDACs 1, 2, 3, and 6. Largazole and largazole thiol were further assayed for cytotoxic activity against a panel of chemoresistant melanoma cell lines and it was found that largazole is substantially more cytotoxic than largazole thiol; this difference being attributed to differences in cell permeability of the two substances, respectively.
PMCID: PMC3090445  PMID: 18642817
2.  Total Syntheses of the Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors Largazole and 2-epi-Largazole: Application of N-Heterocyclic Carbene Mediated Acylations in Complex Molecule Synthesis 
The Journal of organic chemistry  2011;76(4):1140-1150.
Details of the evolution of strategies toward convergent assembly of the histone deacetylase inhibiting natural product largazole exploiting γ,δ-unsaturated-α,β-epoxy-aldehydes and a thiazole-thiazoline containing ω-amino-acid are described. The initial N-heterocyclic carbene mediated redox amidation exploying these two types of building blocks representing largazole’s structural domains of distinct biosynthetic origin directly afforded the seco-acid of largazole. This was accomplished without any protecting groups resident upon either thioester bearing epoxy-aldehyde or the tetrapeptide. However, the ineffective production of largazole via the final macrolactonization led to an alternative intramolecular esterification/macrolactamization strategy employing the established two building blocks. This provided largazole along with its C2-epimer via an unexpected inversion of the α-stereocenter at the valine residue. The biological evaluation demonstrated that both largazole and 2-epi-largazole led to dose-dependent increases of acetylation of histone H3, indicating their potencies as class I histone deacetylase selective inhibitiors. Enhanced p21 expression was also induced by largazole and its C2 epimer. In addition, 2-epi-largazole displayed more potent activity than largazole in cell viability assays against PC-3 and LNCaP prostate cancer cell lines.
PMCID: PMC4201586  PMID: 21244075
3.  Structural Basis of the Antiproliferative Activity of Largazole, a Depsipeptide Inhibitor of the Histone Deacetylases 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2011;133(32):12474-12477.
Largazole is a macrocyclic depsipeptide originally isolated from the marine cyanobacterium Symploca sp., which is indigenous to the warm, blue-green waters of Key Largo, Florida (whence largazole derives its name). Largazole contains an unusual thiazoline-thiazole ring system that rigidifies its macrocyclic skeleton, and it also contains a lipophilic thioester side chain. Hydrolysis of the thioester in vivo yields largazole thiol, which exhibits remarkable antiproliferative effects and is believed to be the most potent inhibitor of the metal-dependent histone deacetylases (HDACs). Here, the 2.14 Å-resolution crystal structure of the HDAC8-largazole thiol complex is the first of an HDAC complexed with a macrocyclic inhibitor and reveals that ideal thiolate-zinc coordination geometry is the key chemical feature responsible for its exceptional affinity and biological activity. Notably, the core structure of largazole is conserved in romidepsin, a depsipeptide natural product formulated as the drug Istodax® recently approved for cancer chemotherapy. Accordingly, the structure of the HDAC8-largazole thiol complex is the first to illustrate the mode of action of a new class of therapeutically important HDAC inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3162211  PMID: 21790156
4.  Biological Evaluation of New Largazole Analogues: Alteration of Macrocyclic Scaffold with Click Chemistry 
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters  2012;4(1):132-136.
We report the design, synthesis, and biological evaluation of a new series of largazole analogues in which a 4-methylthiazoline moiety was replaced with a triazole and tetrazole ring, respectively. Compound 7 bearing a tetrazole ring was identified to show much better selectivity for HDAC1 over HDAC9 than largazole (10-fold). This work could serve as a foundation for further exploration of selective HDAC inhibitors using a largazole molecular scaffold.
PMCID: PMC4027506  PMID: 24900575
HDAC inhibitor; peptides; macrocycles; largazole; click chemistry
5.  Synthesis and Conformation-Activity Relationships of the Peptide Isosteres of FK228 and Largazole 
The peptide isosteres (10 and 11) of the naturally occurring and potent histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors FK228 and largazole have been synthesized and evaluated side-by-side with FK228, largazole and SAHA for inhibition of the class I HDACs 1, 2, 3, and 6.
PMCID: PMC2880701  PMID: 19193120
6.  Largazole Pharmacokinetics in Rats by LC-MS/MS 
Marine Drugs  2014;12(3):1623-1640.
A highly sensitive and specific LC-MS/MS method for the quantitation of largazole thiol, the active species of the marine-derived preclinical histone deacetylase inhibitor, largazole (prodrug), was developed and validated. Largazole thiol was extracted with ethyl acetate from human or rat plasma along with the internal standard, harmine. Samples were separated on an Onyx Monolithic C18 column by a stepwise gradient elution with 0.1% formic acid in methanol and 0.1% aqueous formic acid employing multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) detection. Linear calibration curves were obtained in the range of 12.5–400 ng/mL with 200 µL of human plasma. The overall intra-day precision was from 3.87% to 12.6%, and the inter-day precision was from 7.12% to 9.8%. The accuracy at low, medium and high concentrations ranged from 101.55% to 105.84%. Plasma protein bindings of largazole thiol in human and rat plasma as determined by an ultrafiltration method were 90.13% and 77.14%, respectively. Plasma drug concentrations were measured by this LC-MS/MS method. The pharmacokinetics of largazole thiol in rats was studied following i.v. administration at 10 mg/kg and found to follow a two-compartment model. Largazole thiol was rapidly eliminated from systemic circulation within 2 h. The established LC-MS/MS method is suitable for the analysis of largazole thiol in human plasma, as well.
PMCID: PMC3967229  PMID: 24658499
largazole; LC-MS/MS; pharmacokinetics; protein binding
7.  In Vitro and In Vivo Osteogenic Activity of Largazole 
ACS medicinal chemistry letters  2011;2(3):248-251.
Due to their capability of modifying chromatin structure and thereby regulating gene transcription, histone deacetylases (HDACs) have been reported to play important roles in osteogenesis and considered a promising potential therapeutic target for bone diseases, including osteoporosis. We showed that the novel marine-derived HDAC inhibitor largazole exhibits in vitro and in vivo osteogenic activity. Largazole significantly induced the expression of ALP and OPN. The osteogenic activity of largazole was mediated through the increased expression of Runx2 and BMPs. Importantly, largazole showed in vivo bone-forming efficacy in the mouse calvarial bone formation assay and the rabbit calvarial bone fracture healing model. The dual action of largazole to stimulate bone formation and inhibit bone resorption would be a useful feature in drug development for bone-related disorders.
PMCID: PMC3109915  PMID: 21666868
largazole; osteogenic activity; histone deacetylases; Runx2; bone morphogenetic protein
8.  In Vitro and In Vivo Osteogenic Activity of Largazole 
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters  2011;2(3):248-251.
Due to their capability of modifying chromatin structure and thereby regulating gene transcription, histone deacetylases (HDACs) have been reported to play important roles in osteogenesis and considered a promising potential therapeutic target for bone diseases, including osteoporosis. We showed that the novel marine-derived HDAC inhibitor largazole exhibits in vitro and in vivo osteogenic activity. Largazole significantly induced the expression of ALP and OPN. The osteogenic activity of largazole was mediated through the increased expression of Runx2 and BMPs. Importantly, largazole showed in vivo bone-forming efficacy in the mouse calvarial bone formation assay and the rabbit calvarial bone fracture healing model. The dual action of largazole to stimulate bone formation and inhibit bone resorption would be a useful feature in drug development for bone-related disorders.
PMCID: PMC3109915  PMID: 21666868
Largazole; osteogenic activity; histone deacetylases; Runx2; bone morphogenetic protein
9.  Glucocorticoids and histone deacetylase inhibitors cooperate to block the invasiveness of basal-like breast cancer cells through novel mechanisms 
Oncogene  2012;32(10):1316-1329.
Aggressive cancers often express E-cadherin in cytoplasmic vesicles rather than on the plasma membrane and this may contribute to the invasive phenotype of these tumors. Therapeutic strategies are not currently available that restore the anti-invasive function of E-cadherin in cancers. MDA-MB-231 cells are a frequently used model of invasive triple-negative breast cancer, and these cells express low levels of E-cadherin that is mislocalized to cytoplasmic vesicles. MDA-MB-231 cell lines stably expressing wild-type E-cadherin or E-cadherin fused to glutathione S-transferase or green fluorescent protein were used as experimental systems to probe the mechanisms responsible for cytoplasmic E-cadherin localization in invasive cancers. Although E-cadherin expression partly reduced cell invasion in vitro, E-cadherin was largely localized to the cytoplasm and did not block the invasiveness of the corresponding orthotopic xenograft tumors. Further studies indicated that the glucocorticoid dexamethasone and the highly potent class I histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor largazole cooperated to induce E-cadherin localization to the plasma membrane in triple-negative breast cancers, and to suppress cellular invasion in vitro. Dexamethasone blocked the production of the cleaved form of the CDCP1 (that is, CUB domain-containing protein 1) protein (cCDCP1) previously implicated in the pro-invasive activities of CDCP1 by upregulating the serine protease inhibitor plasminogen activator inhibitor-1. E-cadherin preferentially associated with cCDCP1 compared with the full-length form. In contrast, largazole did not influence CDCP1 cleavage, but increased the association of E-cadherin with γ-catenin. This effect on E-cadherin/γ-catenin complexes was shared with the nonisoform selective HDAC inhibitors trichostatin A (TSA) and vorinostat (suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid, SAHA), although largazole upregulated endogenous E-cadherin levels more strongly than TSA. These results demonstrate that glucocorticoids and HDAC inhibitors, both of which are currently in clinical use, cooperate to suppress the invasiveness of breast cancer cells through novel, complementary mechanisms that converge on E-cadherin.
PMCID: PMC3773700  PMID: 22543582
E-cadherin; breast cancer; invasion; glucocorticoid; HDAC inhibitor; PAI-1
10.  Enantioselective Total Synthesis of (+)-Largazole, a Potent Inhibitor of Histone Deacetylase 
Organic letters  2008;10(17):3907-3909.
An enantioselective total synthesis of cytotoxic natural product, (+)-largazole (1) is described. It is a potent histone deacetylase inhibitor. Our synthesis is convergent and involves the assembly of thiazole 3-derived carboxylic acid with amino ester 4 followed by cycloamidation of the corresponding amino acid. The synthesis features an efficient cross metathesis, an enzymatic kinetic resolution of a β-hydroxy ester, a selective removal of a Boc-protecting group, a HATU/HOAt-promoted cycloamidation reaction, and synthetic manipulations to a sensitive thioester functional group.
PMCID: PMC2945909  PMID: 18662003
11.  Polyaminohydroxamic Acids and Polyaminobenzamides as Isoform Selective Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors§ 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;51(8):2447-2456.
A series of polyaminohydroxamic acids (PAHAs) and polyaminobenzamides (PABAs) were synthesized and evaluated as isoform-selective histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors. These analogues contain a polyamine chain to increase affinity for chromatin and facilitate cellular import. Seven PAHAs inhibited HDAC >50% (1 µM), and two PABAs inhibited HDAC >50% (5 µM). Compound 17 increased acetylated α-tubulin in HCT116 colon tumor cells 253-fold but only modestly increased p21waf1 and acetylated histones 3 and 4, suggesting that 17 selectively inhibits HDAC 6. PABA 22 alone minimally increased p21waf1 and acetylated histones 3 and 4 but caused dose-dependent increases in p21waf1 in combination with 0.1 µM 5-azadeoxycytidine. Finally, 22 appeared to be a substrate for the polyamine transport system. None of these compounds were cytotoxic at 100 µM. PAHAs and PABAs exhibit strikingly different cellular effects from SAHA and have the potential for use in combination antitumor therapies with reduced toxicity.
PMCID: PMC3556737  PMID: 18348516
12.  Synthesis and HDAC Inhibitory Activity of Largazole Analogs: Alteration of the Zinc-Binding Domain and Macrocyclic Scaffold 
Organic letters  2009;11(6):1301-1304.
Fourteen analogs of the marine natural product largazole have been prepared and assayed against HDACs 1,2, 3, and 6. Olefin cross-metathesis was used to efficiently access six variants of the side-chain zinc-binding domain, while adaptation of our previously reported modular synthesis allowed probing of the macrocyclic cap group
PMCID: PMC2673910  PMID: 19239241
13.  Largazole Arrests Cell Cycle at G1 Phase and Triggers Proteasomal Degradation of E2F1 in Lung Cancer Cells 
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters  2013;4(10):921-926.
Aberration in cell cycle has been shown to be a common occurrence in lung cancer, and cell cycle inhibitor represents an effective therapeutic strategy. In this study, we test the effects of a natural macrocyclic depsipeptide largazole on lung cancer cells and report that this compound potently inhibits the proliferation and clonogenic activity of lung cancer cells but not normal bronchial epithelial cells. Largazole arrests cell cycle at G1 phase with up-regulation of the expression of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21. Interestingly, largazole enhances the E2F1-HDAC1 binding affinity and induces a proteasomal degradation of E2F1, leading to suppression of E2F1 function in lung cancer but not normal bronchial epithelial cells. Because E2F1 is overexpressed in lung cancer tumor samples, these data indicate that largazole is an E2F1-targeting cell cycle inhibitor, which bears therapeutic potentials for this malignant neoplasm.
PMCID: PMC4027503  PMID: 24900585
Lung cancer; cell cycle; largazole; E2F1; degradation
14.  The Synthesis and Evaluation of N1-(4-(2-[18F]-fluoroethyl)phenyl)-N8-hydroxyoctanediamide ([18F]-FESAHA), A PET Radiotracer Designed for the Delineation of Histone Deacetylase Expression in Cancer 
Nuclear medicine and biology  2011;38(5):683-696.
Given the significant utility of suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) in chemotherapeutic protocols, a PET tracer that mimics the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibition of SAHA could be a valuable tool in the diagnosis, treatment planning, and treatment monitoring of cancer. Here, we describe the synthesis, characterization, and evaluation of N1-(4-(2-[18F]-fluoroethyl)phenyl)-N8-hydroxyoctanediamide ([18F]-FESAHA), a PET tracer designed for the delineation of HDAC expression in cancer.
FESAHA was synthesized and biologically characterized in vivo and in vitro. [18F]-FESAHA was then synthesized in high radiochemical purity, and the logP and serum stability of the radiotracer were determined. In vitro cellular uptake experiments and acute biodistribution and small animal PET studies were performed with [18F]-FESAHA in mice bearing LNCaP xenografts.
[18F]-FESAHA was synthesized in high radiochemical purity via an innovative one-pot procedure. Enzymatic inhibition assays illustrated that FESAHA is a potent HDAC inhibitor, with IC50 values from 3 nM to 1.7 μM against the eleven HDAC subtypes. Cell proliferation experiments revealed that the cytostatic properties of FESAHA very closely resemble those of SAHA in both LNCaP cells and PC-3 cells. Acute biodistribution and PET imaging experiments revealed tumor uptake of [18F]-FESAHA and substantially higher values in the small intestine, kidneys, liver, and bone.
The significant non-tumor background uptake of [18F]-FESAHA presents a substantial obstacle to the use of the radiotracer as an HDAC expression imaging agent. The study at hand, however, does present a number of lessons critical to both the synthesis of hydroxamic acid containing PET radiotracers and imaging agents aimed at delineating HDAC expression.
PMCID: PMC3145497  PMID: 21718944
PET; Histone deacetylase; Hydroxamic acid; SAHA; [18F]-FAHA; [18F]-FESAHA
15.  Structure, Mechanism, and Inhibition of Histone Deacetylases and Related Metalloenzymes 
Metal-dependent histone deacetylases (HDACs) catalyze the hydrolysis of acetyl-L-lysine side chains in histone and non-histone proteins to yield L-lysine and acetate. This chemistry plays a critical role in the regulation of numerous biological processes. Aberrant HDAC activity is implicated in various diseases, and HDACs are validated targets for drug design. Two HDAC inhibitors are currently approved for cancer chemotherapy, and other inhibitors are in clinical trials. To date, X-ray crystal structures are available for four human HDACs (2, 4, 7, 8) and three HDAC-related deacetylases from bacteria (histone deacetylase-like protein, HDLP; histone deacetylase-like amidohydrolase, HDAH; acetylpolyamine amidohydrolase, APAH). Structural comparisons among these enzymes reveal a conserved constellation of active site residues, suggesting a common mechanism for the metal-dependent hydrolysis of acetylated substrates. Structural analyses of HDACs and HDAC-related deacetylases guide the design of tight-binding inhibitors, and future prospects for developing isozyme-specific inhibitors are quite promising.
PMCID: PMC3232309  PMID: 21872466
16.  Loss of Deacetylation Activity of Hdac6 Affects Emotional Behavior in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30924.
Acetylation is mediated by acetyltransferases and deacetylases, and occurs not only on histones but also on diverse proteins. Although histone acetylation in chromatin structure and transcription has been well studied, the biological roles of non-histone acetylation remain elusive. Histone deacetylase 6 (Hdac6), a member of the histone deacetylase (HDAC) family, is a unique deacetylase that localizes to cytoplasm and functions in many cellular events by deacetylating non-histone proteins including α-tubulin, Hsp90, and cortactin. Since robust expression of Hdac6 is observed in brain, it would be expected that Hdac6-mediated reversible acetylation plays essential roles in CNS. Here we demonstrate the crucial roles of Hdac6 deacetylase activity in the expression of emotional behavior in mice. We found that Hdac6-deficient mice exhibit hyperactivity, less anxiety, and antidepressant-like behavior in behavioral tests. Moreover, administration of Hdac6-specific inhibitor replicated antidepressant-like behavior in mice. In good agreement with behavioral phenotypes of Hdac6-deficient mice, Hdac6 dominantly localizes to the dorsal and median raphe nuclei, which are involved in emotional behaviors. These findings suggest that HDAC6-mediated reversible acetylation might contribute to maintain proper neuronal activity in serotonergic neurons, and also provide a new therapeutic target for depression.
PMCID: PMC3273475  PMID: 22328923
17.  Design, Synthesis, Biological Evaluation, and Structural Characterization of Potent Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors Based on Cyclic α/β-Tetrapeptide Architectures 
Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are a family of enzymes found in bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals that profoundly affect cellular function by catalyzing the removal of acetyl groups from ε-N-acetylated lysine residues of various protein substrates including histones, transcription factors, α-tubulin, and nuclear importers. Although the precise roles of HDAC isoforms in cellular function are not yet completely understood, inhibition of HDAC activity has emerged as a promising approach for reversing the aberrant epigenetic states associated with cancer and other chronic diseases. Potent new isoform selective HDAC inhibitors would therefore help expand our understanding of the HDAC enzymes and would represent attractive lead compounds for drug design, especially if combined with high resolution structural analyses of such inhibitors to shed light on the three-dimensional pharmacophoric features necessary for the future design of more potent and selective compounds. Here we present structural and functional analyses of a series of β-amino acid-containing HDAC inhibitors inspired by cyclic tetrapeptide natural products. To survey a diverse ensemble of pharmacophoric configurations, we systematically varied the position of the β-amino acid, amino acid chirality, functionalization of the Zn2+-coordinating amino acid side chain, and alkylation of the backbone amide nitrogen atoms around the macrocycle. In many cases, the compounds were a single conformation in solution and exhibited potent activities against a number of HDAC isoforms as well as effective antiproliferative and cytotoxic activities against human tumor cells. High resolution NMR solution structures were determined for a selection of the inhibitors, providing a useful means of correlating detailed structural information with potency. The structure-based approach described here is expected to furnish valuable insights toward the future design of more selective HDAC inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2751792  PMID: 19239270
beta-amino acids; drug design; cyclic tetrapeptides; histone deacetylase; structure-activity relationship
18.  Largazole, a class I histone deacetylase inhibitor, enhances TNF-α to induce ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expression in Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblasts 
In the present study, we evaluated the effect of largazole (LAR), a marine-derived class I HDAC inhibitor, on tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)-induced expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), and matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) activity. LAR (1-5 μM) had no adverse effect on the viability of RA synovial fibroblasts. Among the different class I HDACs screened, LAR (1-5 μM) inhibited the constitutive expression of HDAC1 (0-30%). Surprisingly, LAR increased class II HDAC [HDAC6] by ~220% with a concomitant decrease in HDAC5 [30-58%] expression in RA synovial fibroblasts. SAHA (5 μM), a pan-HDAC inhibitor, also induced HDAC6 expression in RA synovial fibroblasts. Pretreatment of RA synovial fibroblasts with LAR further enhanced TNF-α-induced ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expression. However, LAR inhibited TNF-α-induced MMP-2 activity in RA synovial fibroblasts by 35% when compared to the TNF-α-treated group. Further, the addition of HDAC6 specific inhibitor Tubastatin A with LAR suppressed TNF-α+LAR-induced ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expression and completely blocked MMP-2 activity, suggesting a role of HDAC6 in LAR-induced ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expression. LAR also enhanced TNF-α-induced phospho-p38 and phospho-AKT expression, but inhibited the expression of phospho-JNK and nuclear translocation of NF-κBp65 in RA synovial fibroblasts. These results suggest that LAR activates p38 and Akt pathways and influences class II HDACs, in particular HDAC6, to enhance some of the detrimental effects of TNF-α in RA synovial fibroblasts. Understanding the exact role of different HDAC isoenzymes in RA pathogenesis is extremely important in order to develop highly effective HDAC inhibitors for the treatment of RA.
PMCID: PMC3766723  PMID: 23632129
19.  Aminoglycoside-induced histone deacetylation and hair cell death in the mouse cochlea 
Journal of Neurochemistry  2009;108(5):1226-1236.
Post-translational modification of histones is an important form of chromatin regulation impacting transcriptional activation. Histone acetyltransferases (HATs), for example, acetylate lysine residues on histone tails enhancing gene transcription, while histone deacetylases (HDACs) remove those acetyl groups and repress gene transcription. Deficient histone acetylation is associated with pathologies, and histone deacetylase inhibitors have been studied in the treatment of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
Here we explore histone acetylation in cochlear sensory cells following a challenge with gentamicin, an aminoglycoside antibiotic known to cause loss of auditory hair cells and hearing. The addition of the drug to organotypic cultures of the mouse organ of Corti decreased the acetylation of histone core proteins (H2A Ack5, H2B Ack12, H3 Ack9, and H4 Ack8) followed by a loss of sensory cells. Protein levels of HDAC1, HDAC3 and HDAC4 were increased while the HATs CBP and p300 remained unchanged. We next hypothesized that protecting histone acetylation should prevent cell death and tested the effects of HDAC-inhibitors on the actions of gentamicin. Co-treatment with trichostatin-A maintained near-normal levels of acetylation of histone core proteins in cochlear outer hair cells and attenuated gentamicin-induced cell death. The addition of sodium butyrate also rescued hair cells from damage by gentamicin. The results are consistent with an involvement of deficient histone acetylation in aminoglycoside-induced hair cell death by and point to the potential value of HDAC-inhibitors in protection from the side effects of these drugs.
PMCID: PMC3341988  PMID: 19141081
20.  Structural Basis for the Inhibition of Histone Deacetylase 8 (HDAC8), a Key Epigenetic Player in the Blood Fluke Schistosoma mansoni 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(9):e1003645.
The treatment of schistosomiasis, a disease caused by blood flukes parasites of the Schistosoma genus, depends on the intensive use of a single drug, praziquantel, which increases the likelihood of the development of drug-resistant parasite strains and renders the search for new drugs a strategic priority. Currently, inhibitors of human epigenetic enzymes are actively investigated as novel anti-cancer drugs and have the potential to be used as new anti-parasitic agents. Here, we report that Schistosoma mansoni histone deacetylase 8 (smHDAC8), the most expressed class I HDAC isotype in this organism, is a functional acetyl-L-lysine deacetylase that plays an important role in parasite infectivity. The crystal structure of smHDAC8 shows that this enzyme adopts a canonical α/β HDAC fold, with specific solvent exposed loops corresponding to insertions in the schistosome HDAC8 sequence. Importantly, structures of smHDAC8 in complex with generic HDAC inhibitors revealed specific structural changes in the smHDAC8 active site that cannot be accommodated by human HDACs. Using a structure-based approach, we identified several small-molecule inhibitors that build on these specificities. These molecules exhibit an inhibitory effect on smHDAC8 but show reduced affinity for human HDACs. Crucially, we show that a newly identified smHDAC8 inhibitor has the capacity to induce apoptosis and mortality in schistosomes. Taken together, our biological and structural findings define the framework for the rational design of small-molecule inhibitors specifically interfering with schistosome epigenetic mechanisms, and further support an anti-parasitic epigenome targeting strategy to treat neglected diseases caused by eukaryotic pathogens.
Author Summary
Schistosomiasis, a neglected parasitic disease caused by flatworms of the genus Schistosoma, is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths yearly. Its treatment currently depends on a single drug, praziquantel, with reports of drug-resistant parasites. Human epigenetic enzymes, in particular histone deacetylases (HDACs), are predominantly attractive inhibitory targets for anti-cancer therapies. Validated scaffolds against these enzymes could also be used as leads in the search for novel specific drugs against schistosomiasis. In our study, we show that Schistosoma mansoni histone deacetylase 8 (smHDAC8) is a functional acetyl-L-lysine deacetylase that plays an important role in parasite infectivity and is therefore a relevant target for drug discovery. The determination of the atomic structures of smHDAC8 in complex with generic HDAC inhibitors revealed that the architecture of the smHDAC8 active site pocket differed significantly from its human counterparts and provided a framework for the development of inhibitors selectively interfering with schistosome epigenetic mechanisms. In agreement, this information enabled us to identify several small-molecule scaffolds that possess specific inhibitory effects on smHDAC8 and cause mortality in schistosomes. Our results provide the proof of concept that targeting epigenetic enzymes is a valid approach to treat neglected diseases caused by eukaryotic pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3784479  PMID: 24086136
21.  Synthesis of 14N and 15N-labeled trityl-nitroxide biradicals with strong spin-spin interaction and improved sensitivity to redox status and oxygen 
The Journal of organic chemistry  2010;75(22):7796-7802.
Simultaneous evaluation redox status and oxygenation in biological systems is of great importance for the understanding of biological functions. Electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy coupled with the use of the nitroxide radicals have been an indispensable technique for this application but are still limited by its low oxygen sensitivity, and low EPR resolution in part due to the moderately broad EPR triplet and spin quenching through bioreduction. In this study, we showed that these drawbacks can be overcome through the use of trityl-nitroxide biradicals allowing for the simultaneous measurement of redox status and oxygenation. A new trityl-nitroxide biradical TNN14 composed of a pyrrolidinyl-nitroxide and a trityl, and its isotopically labeled 15N analogue TNN15 were synthesized and characterized. Both biradicals exhibited much stronger spin-spin interaction with J > 400 G than the previous synthesized trityl-nitroxide biradicals TN1 (~160 G) and TN2 (~52 G) with longer linker chain length. The enhanced stability of TNN14 was evaluated using ascorbate as reductant and the effect of different types of cyclodextrins on its stability in the presence of ascorbate was also investigated. Both biradicals are sensitive to redox status, and their corresponding trityl-hydroxylamines resulting from the reduction of the biradicals by ascorbate share the same oxygen sensitivity. Of note is that the 15N-labeled TNN15-H with an EPR doublet exhibits improved EPR signal amplitude as compared to TNN14-H with an EPR triplet. In addition, cyclic voltammetric studies verify the characteristic electrochemical behaviors of the trityl-nitroxide biradicals.
PMCID: PMC4073600  PMID: 21028905
22.  Synthesis and HDAC Inhibitory Activity of Isosteric Thiazoline-Oxazole Largazole Analogs 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters  2013;23(21):10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.06.012.
The synthesis of an isosteric analog of the natural product and HDAC inhibitor largazole is described. The sulfur atom in the thizaole ring of the natural product has been replaced with an oxygen atom, constituting an oxazole ring. The biochemical activity and cytotoxicity of this species is described.
PMCID: PMC3859309  PMID: 24035339
23.  Functionalized Congener Approach to Muscarinic Antagonists: Analogues of Pirenzepine 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  1991;34(7):2133-2145.
The M1-selective muscarinic receptor antagonist pirenzepine (5,11-dihydro-11-[(4-methyl-1-piperazinyl)acetyl]-6H-pyrido[2,3-b] [1,4]benzodiazepin-6-one) was derivatized to explore points of attachment of functionalized side chains for the synthesis of receptor probes and ligands for affinity chromatography. The analogues prepared were evaluated in competitive binding assays versus [3H]-N-methylscopolamine at four muscarinic receptor subtypes (m1AChR-m4AChR) in membranes from rat heart tissue and transfected A9L cells. 9-(Hydroxymethyl)pirenzepine, 8-(methylthio)pirenzepine, and a series of 8-aminosulfonyl derivatives were synthesized. Several 5-substituted analogues of pirenzepine also were prepared. An alternate series of analogues substituted on the 4-position of the piperazine ring was prepared by reaction of 4-desmethylpirenzepine with various electrophiles. An N-chloroethyl analogue of pirenzepine was shown to form a reactive aziridine species in aqueous buffer yet failed to affinity label muscarinic receptors. Within a series of aminoalkyl analogues, the affinity increased as the length of the alkyl chain increased. Shorter chain analogues were generally much less potent than pirenzepine, and longer analogues (7–10 carbons) were roughly as potent as pirenzepine at m1 receptors, but were nonselective. Depending on the methylene chain length, acylation or alkyl substitution of the terminal amine also influenced the affinity at muscarinic receptors.
PMCID: PMC3469255  PMID: 2066986
24.  Histone Deacetylase Cytoplasmic Trapping by a Novel Fluorescent HDAC Inhibitor 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2011;10(9):1591-1599.
Inhibitors of histone deacetylases (HDAC) are an important emerging class of drugs for the treatment of cancers. HDAC inhibitors are currently under evaluation in clinical trials as single agents and as sensitizers in combinations with chemotherapies and radiation therapy. Although these drugs have important effects on cancer cell growth and functions, the mechanisms underlying HDAC inhibitor activities remain to be fully defined. By using rational drug design, compound 2, a fluorescent class II HDAC targeting inhibitor, was synthesized and observed to accumulate in the cytoplasmic compartments of treated cells, but not in the nuclei. Furthermore, immunostaining of inhibitor exposed cells for HDAC4 showed accumulation of this enzyme in the cytoplasmic compartment with concomitant increased acetylation of tubulin and nuclear histones. These observations support a mechanism by which nuclear histone acetylation is increased as a result of HDAC4 trapping and sequestration in the cytoplasm after binding to compound 2. The HDAC inhibitor offers potential as a novel theranostic agent, combining diagnostic and therapeutic properties in the same molecule.
PMCID: PMC3695633  PMID: 21697394
25.  HDAC4 Promotes Growth of Colon Cancer Cells via Repression of p21 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2008;19(10):4062-4075.
The class II Histone deacetylase (HDAC), HDAC4, is expressed in a tissue-specific manner, and it represses differentiation of specific cell types. We demonstrate here that HDAC4 is expressed in the proliferative zone in small intestine and colon and that its expression is down-regulated during intestinal differentiation in vivo and in vitro. Subcellular localization studies demonstrated HDAC4 expression was predominantly nuclear in proliferating HCT116 cells and relocalized to the cytoplasm after cell cycle arrest. Down-regulating HDAC4 expression by small interfering RNA (siRNA) in HCT116 cells induced growth inhibition and apoptosis in vitro, reduced xenograft tumor growth, and increased p21 transcription. Conversely, overexpression of HDAC4 repressed p21 promoter activity. p21 was likely a direct target of HDAC4, because HDAC4 down-regulation increased p21 mRNA when protein synthesis was inhibited by cycloheximide. The importance of p21 repression in HDAC4-mediated growth promotion was demonstrated by the failure of HDAC4 down-regulation to induce growth arrest in HCT116 p21-null cells. HDAC4 down-regulation failed to induce p21 when Sp1 was functionally inhibited by mithramycin or siRNA-mediated down-regulation. HDAC4 expression overlapped with that of Sp1, and a physical interaction was demonstrated by coimmunoprecipitation. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and sequential ChIP analyses demonstrated Sp1-dependent binding of HDAC4 to the proximal p21 promoter, likely directed through the HDAC4–HDAC3–N-CoR/SMRT corepressor complex. Consistent with increased transcription, HDAC4 or SMRT down-regulation resulted in increased histone H3 acetylation at the proximal p21 promoter locus. These studies identify HDAC4 as a novel regulator of colon cell proliferation through repression of p21.
PMCID: PMC2555950  PMID: 18632985

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