Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is an emerging infectious pathogen that causes severe disease in humans and livestock and has the potential for global spread. Currently, there is no proven effective treatment for RVFV infection and there is no licensed vaccine. Inhibition of RNA binding to the essential viral nucleocapsid (N) protein represents a potential anti-viral therapeutic strategy because all of the functions performed by N during infection involve RNA binding. To target this interaction, we developed a fluorescence polarization-based high-throughput drug screening assay and tested 26,424 chemical compounds for their ability to disrupt an N-RNA complex. From libraries of FDA approved drugs, drug-like molecules and natural products extracts we identified several lead compounds that are promising candidates for medicinal chemistry.
nucleocapsid; RNA; Rift Valley fever virus; high-throughput screen; fluorescence polarization
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous, single-stranded, noncoding RNAs of 21 to 23 nucleotides that regulate gene expression, typically by binding the 3′ untranslated regions of target messenger RNAs. It is estimated that miRNAs are involved in the regulation of 30% of all genes and almost every genetic pathway. Recently, the misregulation of miRNAs has been linked to various human diseases including cancer and viral infections, identifying miRNAs as potential targets for drug discovery. Thus, small-molecule modifiers of miRNAs could serve as lead structures for the development of new therapeutic agents and be useful tools in the elucidation of detailed mechanisms of miRNA function. As a result, we have developed a high-throughput screen for potential small-molecule regulators of the liver-specific microRNA miR-122, which is involved in hepatocellular carcinoma development and hepatitis C virus infection. Our small-molecule screen employs a Huh7 human hepatoma cell line stably transfected with a Renilla luciferase sensor for endogenous miR-122. The assay was optimized and validated using an miR-122 antisense agent and a previously identified small-molecule miR-122 inhibitor. The described reporter assay will enable the high-throughput screening of small-molecule miR-122 inhibitors and can be readily extended to other miRNAs.
high-throughput assay; cell-based assay; luciferase; microRNA; small-molecule inhibitor
Fragment-based screening has typically relied on X-ray or NMR methods to identify low affinity ligands that bind to therapeutic targets. These techniques are expensive in terms of material and time, so it useful to have a higher-throughput method to reliably pre-screen a fragment library to identify a subset of compounds for structural analysis. Calorimetry provides a label-free method to assay binding and enzymatic activity that is unaffected by the spectroscopic properties of the sample. Conventional microcalorimetry is hampered by requiring large quantities of reagents and long measurement times. Nanocalorimeters can overcome these limitations of conventional ITC. Here we have used enthalpy arrays, which are arrays of nanocalorimeters, to perform an enzyme activity based fragment screen for competitive inhibitors of phosphodiesterase 4A (PDE4A). Several inhibitors with KI<2 mM were identified and moved to X-ray crystallization trials. Although the co-crystals did not yield high-resolution data, evidence of binding was observed and the chemical structures of the hits were consistent with motifs of known PDE4 inhibitors. This study shows how array calorimetry can be used as a pre-screening method for fragment-based lead discovery with enzyme targets, and it provides a list of candidate fragments for inhibition of PDE4A.
nanocalorimetry; enzyme assay; label-free assay; fragment-based lead discovery; X-ray crystallography
The authors conducted a high-throughput screening campaign for inhibitors of SV40 large T antigen ATPase activity to identify candidate antivirals that target the replication of polyomaviruses. The primary assay was adapted to 1536-well microplates and used to screen the National Institutes of Health Molecular Libraries Probe Centers Network library of 306 015 compounds. The primary screen had an Z value of ~0.68, signal/background = 3, and a high (5%) DMSO tolerance. Two counterscreens and two secondary assays were used to prioritize hits by EC50, cytotoxicity, target specificity, and off-target effects. Hits that inhibited ATPase activity by >44% in the primary screen were tested in dose–response efficacy and eukaryotic cytotoxicity assays. After evaluation of hit cytotoxicity, drug likeness, promiscuity, and target specificity, three compounds were chosen for chemical optimization. Chemical optimization identified a class of bisphenols as the most effective biochemical inhibitors. Bisphenol A inhibited SV40 large T antigen ATPase activity with an IC50 of 41 μM in the primary assay and 6.2 μM in a cytoprotection assay. This compound class is suitable as probes for biochemical investigation of large T antigen ATPase activity, but because of their cytotoxicity, further optimization is necessary for their use in studying polyomavirus replication in vivo.
SV40; chemistry; large T antigen; HTS; antivirals
One of the objectives of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Biodefense Program is to identify or develop broad-spectrum antimicrobials for use against bioterrorism pathogens and emerging infectious agents. As a part of that program, our institution has screened the 10 000-compound MyriaScreen Diversity Collection of high-purity druglike compounds against three NIAID category A and one category B priority pathogens in an effort to identify potential compound classes for further drug development. The effective use of a Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute–based high-throughput screening (HTS) 96-well–based format allowed for the identification of 49 compounds that had in vitro activity against all four pathogens with minimum inhibitory concentration values of ≤16 μg/mL. Adaptation of the HTS process was necessary to conduct the work in higher-level containment, in this case, biosafety level 3. Examination of chemical scaffolds shared by some of the 49 compounds and assessment of available chemical databases indicates that several may represent broad-spectrum antimicrobials whose activity is based on novel mechanisms of action.
anti-infective drugs; automation; cell-based assays; compound repositories; high-content screening
Methylation is a ubiquitous covalent modification used to control the function of diverse biomolecules including hormones, neurotransmitters, xenobiotics, proteins, nucleic acids and lipids. Histone methyltransferases (HMTs) are currently of high interest as drug targets because of their role in epigenetic regulation, however most HMT assay methods are either not amenable to an HTS environment or are applicable to a limited number of enzymes. We developed a generic methyltransferase assay method using fluorescent immunodetection of AMP, which is formed from the MT reaction product S-adenosylhomocysteine in a dual enzyme coupling step. The detection range of the assay, its suitability for HTS, including stability of reagents following dispensing and after addition to reactions as well as the potential for interference from drug like molecules was investigated. In addition, the use of the assay for measuring inhibitor potencies with peptide or intact protein substrates was examined through pilot screening with selected reference enzymes including HMT G9a. By combining a novel enzymatic coupling step with the well characterized Transcreener® AMP/GMP assay, we have developed a robust HTS assay for HMTs which should be broadly applicable to other types of methyltransferases as well.
epigenetics; histone methyltransferase; DNA methyltransferase; methyltransferase assay; high throughput screening
Testing small molecules for their ability to modify cysteine residues of proteins in the early stages of drug discovery is expected to accelerate our ability to develop more selective drugs with lesser side effects. In addition, this approach also enables the rapid evaluation of the mode of binding of new drug candidates in respect to thiol-reactivity and metabolism by glutathione. Herein, we describe the development of a fluorescence-based high throughput assay that allows the identification of thiol-reactive compounds. A thiol-containing fluorescent probe MSTI was synthesized and used to evaluate small molecules from the LOPAC collection of bioactive molecules. LOPAC compounds that are known to react with sulfur nucleophiles were identified with this assay, for example, irreversible protease inhibitors, nitric oxide releasing compounds, and proton-pump inhibitors. The results confirm that both electrophilic and redox reactive compounds can be quickly identified in a high throughput manner enabling the assessment of screening libraries in respect to thiol-reactive compounds.
Promiscuous inhibitors; glutathione; fluorescence; high throughput screening; thiol-reactive or electrophilic compound
Misregulation of the Wnt pathway has been shown to be responsible for a variety of human diseases, most notably cancers. Screens for inhibitors of this pathway have been performed almost exclusively using cultured mammalian cells or with purified proteins. We have previously developed a biochemical assay using Xenopus egg extracts to recapitulate key cytoplasmic events in the Wnt pathway. Using this biochemical system, we show that a recombinant form of the Wnt coreceptor, LRP6, regulates the stability of two key components of the Wnt pathway (β-catenin and Axin) in opposing fashion. We have now fused β-catenin and Axin to firefly and Renilla luciferase, respectively, and demonstrate that the fusion proteins behave similarly as their wild-type counterparts. Using this dual luciferase readout, we adapted the Xenopus extracts system for high-throughput screening. Results from these screens demonstrate signal distribution curves that reflect the complexity of the library screened. Of several compounds identified as cytoplasmic modulators of the Wnt pathway, one was further validated as a bona fide inhibitor of the Wnt pathway in cultured mammalian cells and Xenopus embryos. We show that other embryonic pathways may be amendable to screening for inhibitors/modulators in Xenopus egg extracts.
Wnt signaling; Xenopus extracts; β-catenin; Axin; LRP6; flavonoids
Small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO1-3) is a small group of proteins that are ligated to lysine residues in target proteins. SUMO conjugation is a highly dynamic process, as SUMOylated proteins are rapidly deconjugated by SUMO proteases. SUMO conjugation/deconjugation plays pivotal roles in major cellular pathways, and is associated with a number of pathological conditions. It is therefore of significant clinical interest to develop new strategies to screen for compounds to specifically interfere with SUMO conjugation/deconjugation. Here, we describe a novel high throughput screening-compatible assay to identify inhibitors of SUMO proteases. The assay is based on AlphaScreen technology and uses His-tagged SUMO2 conjugated to Strep-tagged SUMO3 as a SUMO protease substrate. A bacterial SUMOylation system was used to generate this substrate. A three-step purification strategy was employed to yield substrate of high quality. Our data indicated that this unique substrate can be readily detected in the AlphaScreen assays in a dose-dependent manner. Cleavage reactions by SUMO protease with or without inhibitor were monitored based on AlphaScreen signals. Furthermore, the assay was adapted to a 384-well format, and the interplate and interday variability was evaluated in eight 384-well plates. The average Z’ factor was 0.83±0.04, confirming the suitability for high throughput screening applications.
AlphaScreen technology; assay development; inhibitor; SUMO proteases; SUMO
Prostate cancer is a leading cause of death among men due to the limited number of treatment strategies available for advanced disease. Discovery of effective chemotherapeutics involves the identification of agents that inhibit cancer cell growth. Increases in intracellular granularity have been observed during physiological processes that include senescence, apoptosis, and autophagy, making this phenotypic change a useful marker for identifying small molecules that induce cellular growth arrest or death. In this regard, epithelial-derived cancer cell lines appear uniquely susceptible to increased intracellular granularity following exposure to chemotherapeutics. We have established a novel flow cytometry approach that detects increases in side light scatter in response to morphological changes associated with intracellular granularity in the androgen-sensitive LNCaP and androgen-independent PC3 human prostate cancer cell lines. A cell-based assay was developed to screen for small molecule inducers of intracellular granularity using the HyperCyt® high-throughput flow cytometry platform. Validation was performed using the Prestwick Chemical Library, where known modulators of LNCaP intracellular granularity, such as testosterone, were identified. Nonandrogenic inducers of granularity were also detected. A further screen of ~25,000 small molecules led to the identification of a class of aryl-oxazoles that increased intracellular granularity in both cell lines, often leading to cell death. The most potent agents exhibited submicromolar efficacy in LNCaP and PC3 cells.
HyperCyt® high-throughput flow cytometry; small molecule screening; intracellular granularity; prostate cancer
Early success of kinase inhibitors has validated their use as drugs. However, discovery efforts have also suffered from high attrition rates; due to lack of cellular activity. We reasoned that screening for such candidates in live cells would identify novel cell permeable modulators for development. For this purpose, we have used our recently optimized EGFR biosensor (EGFRB) assay to screen for modulators of EGFR activity. Here, we report on its validation under HTS conditions displaying a S/N ratio of 21 and a Z’ value of 0.56; attributes of a robust cell based assay. We performed a pilot screen against a library of 6,912 compounds demonstrating good reproducibility and identifying 82 inhibitors and 66 activators with initial hit rates of 1.2% and 0.95 %, respectively. Follow up dose response studies revealed that 12 out of the 13 known EGFR inhibitors in the library confirmed as hits. ZM-306416, a VEGFR antagonist, was identified as a potent inhibitor of EGFR function. Flurandrenolide, beclomethasone and ebastine were confirmed as activators of EGFR function. Taken together, our results validate this novel approach and demonstrate its utility in the discovery of novel kinase modulators with potential use in the clinic.
EGFR; domain-based biosensor; high content analysis; live cell imaging
Activation of the antioxidant response element (ARE) up-regulates enzymes involved in detoxification of electrophiles and reactive oxygen species. The induction of ARE genes is regulated by the interaction between redox sensor protein, Keap1, and the transcription factor, Nrf2. Fluorescently labeled Nrf2 peptides containing the ETGE motif were synthesized and optimized as tracers in the development of a fluorescence polarization (FP) assay to identify small molecule inhibitors of Keap1-Nrf2 interaction. The tracers were optimized to increase the dynamic range of the assay and their binding affinities to the Keap1 Kelch domain. The binding affinities of Nrf2 peptide inhibitors obtained in our FP assay using FITC-9mer Nrf2 peptide amide as the probe were in good agreement with those obtained previously by a surface plasmon resonance (SPR) assay. The FP assay exhibits considerable tolerance towards DMSO and produced a Z'-factor greater than 0.6 in a 384-well format. Further optimization of the probe led to cyanine-labeled 9mer Nrf2 peptide amide, which can be used along with the FITC-9mer Nrf2 peptide amide in a high throughput screening (HTS) assay to discover small molecule inhibitors of Keap1-Nrf2 interaction.
Nrf2; Keap1; ARE; fluorescence polarization; high throughput screening; oxidative response
Recent advances in stem cell technology have enabled large scale production of human cells such as cardiomyocytes, hepatocytes and neurons for evaluation of pharmacological effect and toxicity of drug candidates. The assessment of compound efficacy and toxicity using human cells should lower the high clinical attrition rates of drug candidates by reducing the impact of species differences on drug efficacy and toxicity from animal studies. Methyl-β-cyclodextrin (MBCD) has shown to reduce lysosomal cholesterol accumulation in skin fibroblasts derived from patients with Niemann Pick type C disease and in the NPC1−/− mouse model. However, the compound has never been tested in human differentiated neurons. We have determined the cholesterol reduction effect of MBCD in neurons differentiated from human neural stem cells and commercially available astrocytes. The use of NSCs for producing differentiated neurons in large quantities can significantly reduce the production time and enhance the reproducibility of screening results. The EC50 values of MBCD on cholesterol reduction in human neurons and astrocytes were 66.9 and 110.7 µM, respectively. The results indicate that human neurons differentiated from the NSCs and human astrocytes are useful tools for evaluating pharmacological activity and toxicity of drug candidates to predict their clinical efficacy.
induced pluripotent stem cells; neural stem cells; human neurons; astrocytes; skin fibroblasts; methyl-β-cyclodextrin
The secretory and transmembrane isoforms of Prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) can dephosphorylate extracellular adenosine 5′-monophosphate (AMP) to adenosine, classifying PAP as an ectonucleotidase. Currently, there are no compounds that inhibit PAP in living cells. To identify small molecule modulators of PAP, we used a 1,536-well based quantitative high-throughput fluorogenic assay to screen the Library of Pharmacologically Active Compounds (LOPAC1280) arrayed as eight-concentration dilution series. This fluorogenic assay used difluoro-4-methylumbelliferyl phosphate (DiFMUP) as substrate and collected data in kinetic mode. Candidate hits were subsequently tested in an orthogonal absorbance-based biochemical assay that used AMP as substrate. From these initial screens, three inhibitors of secretory human (h) and mouse (m)PAP were identified: 8-(4-chlorophenylthio) cAMP (pCPT-cAMP), calmidazolium chloride and nalidixic acid. These compounds did not inhibit recombinant alkaline phosphatase. Of these compounds, only pCPT-cAMP and a related cyclic nucleotide analog [8-(4-chlorophenylthio) cGMP; pCPT-cGMP] inhibited the ectonucleotidase activity of transmembrane PAP in a cell-based assay. These cyclic nucleotides are structurally similar to AMP but cannot be hydrolyzed by PAP. In summary, we identified two cyclic nucleotide analogs that inhibit secretory and transmembrane PAP in vitro and in live cells.
ectonucleotidase; prostatic acid phosphatase; ACPP; pain; nociception
Caspases are central to the execution of programmed cell death and their activation constitutes the biochemical hallmark of apoptosis. In this article, we report the successful adaptation of a high content assay method utilizing the DEVD-NucView488™ fluorogenic substrate, and for the first time, we show caspase activation in live cells induced either by drugs or siRNA. The fluorogenic substrate was found to be non-toxic over an exposure period of several days; during which we demonstrate automated imaging and quantification of caspase activation of the same cell population as a function of time. Overexpression of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-XL, alone or in combination with the inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK, attenuated caspase activation in HeLa cells exposed to Doxorubicin, Etoposide or cell death siRNA. Our method was further validated against two well characterized NSCLC cell lines reported to be sensitive (H3255) or refractory (H2030) to Erlotinib; where we show a differential time dependent activation was observed for H3255 and no significant changes in H2030, consistent with their respective chemosensitivity profile. In summary, our results demonstrate the feasibility of using this newly adapted and validated high content assay to screen chemical or RNAi libraries for the identification of previously uncovered enhancers and suppressors of the apoptotic machinery in live cells.
High content assay; RNAi HT screening; Chemical HT screening; caspase; apoptosis; cancer; live cells
Nitric oxide (NO) is a potent signaling molecule that needs to be tightly regulated to maintain metabolic and cardiovascular homeostasis. The nitric oxide synthase (NOS)/Dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase (DDAH)/Asymmetric Dimethylarginine (ADMA) pathway is central to this regulation. Specifically, the small molecule ADMA competitively inhibits NOS, thus lowering NO levels. The majority of ADMA is physiologically metabolized by DDAH, thus maintaining NO levels at physiological concentration. However, under pathophysiological conditions, DDAH activity is impaired, in part as a result of its sensitivity to oxidative stress. Therefore, the application of high throughput chemical screening for the discovery of small molecules that could restore or enhance DDAH activity might have significant potential in treating metabolic and vascular diseases characterized by reduced NO levels, including atherosclerosis, hypertension, and insulin resistance. By contrast, excessive generation of NO (primarily driven by iNOS) could play a role in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), sepsis, migraine headaches, and some types of cancer. In these conditions, small molecules that inhibit DDAH activity might be therapeutically useful. Here, we describe optimization and validation of a highly reproducible and robust assay successfully used in a high throughput screen for DDAH modulators.
nitric oxide; asymmetric dimethylarginine; diabetes; hypertension; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
High-throughput screening (HTS) has historically been used by the pharmaceutical industry to rapidly test hundreds of thousands of compounds to identify potential drug candidates. More recently, academic groups have used HTS to identify new chemical probes or small interfering RNA (siRNA) that can serve as experimental tools to examine the biology or physiology of novel proteins, processes, or interactions. HTS presents a significant challenge with the vast and complex nature of data generated. This report describes MScreen, a web-based, open-source cheminformatics application for chemical library and siRNA plate management, primary HTS and dose-response data handling, structure search, and administrative functions. Each project in MScreen can be secured with passwords or shared in an open information environment which enables collaborators to easily compare data from many screens, providing a useful means to identify compounds with desired selectivity. Unique features include compound, substance, mixture, and siRNA plate creation and formatting; automated dose-response fitting and quality control (QC); and user, target, and assay method administration. MScreen provides an effective means to facilitate HTS information handling and analysis in the academic setting so that users can efficiently view their screening data and evaluate results for follow-up.
chemoinformatics; data analysis software; open source; high-throughput screening
Automated microscopes have enabled the unprecedented collection of images at a rate that precludes visual inspection. Automated image analysis is required to identify interesting samples and extract quantitative information for high content screening (HCS). However, researchers are impeded by the lack of metrics and software tools to identify image-based aberrations that pollute data, limiting an experiment's quality. We have developed and validated approaches to identify those image acquisition artifacts that prevent optimal extraction of knowledge from high-throughput microscopy experiments. We have implemented these as a versatile, open-source toolbox of algorithms and metrics readily usable by biologists to improve data quality in a wide variety of biological experiments.
Aberrant protein-protein interactions are attractive drug targets in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases due to the common pathology of accumulation of protein aggregates. In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, mutations in SOD1 cause the formation of aggregates and inclusions that may sequester other proteins and disrupt cellular processes. It has been demonstrated that mutant SOD1, but not wild-type SOD1, interacts with the axonal transport motor dynein and that this interaction contributes to motor neuron cell death, suggesting that disrupting this interaction may be a potential therapeutic target. However, it can be challenging to configure a high-throughput screening (HTS)–compatible assay to detect inhibitors of a protein-protein interaction. Here we describe the development and challenges of an HTS for small-molecule inhibitors of the mutant SOD1-dynein interaction. We demonstrate that the interaction can be formed by coexpressing the A4V mutant SOD1 and dynein intermediate complex in cells and that this interaction can be disrupted by compounds added to the cell lysates. Finally, we show that some of the compounds identified from a pilot screen to inhibit the protein-protein interaction with this method specifically disrupt the interaction between the dynein complex and mtSOD1 but not the dynein complex itself when applied to live cells.
CNS and PNS diseases; protein-protein interactions; fluorescence methods; cell-based assays
Class O forkhead box (FOXO) transcription factors are downstream targets of the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway, which is upregulated in many tumors. AKT phosphorylates and inactivates FOXO1 by relocating it to the cytoplasm. Because FOXO1 functions as a tumor suppressor by negatively regulating cell-cycle progression and cell survival, compounds that promote FOXO1 localization to the nucleus might have therapeutic value in oncology. Here we describe the identification of such compounds by using an image-based, high content screen. Compounds that were active in retaining FOXO1 in the nucleus were tested to determine their pathway-specificity and isoform-specificity by using high content assays for Rev and FOXO3, respectively.
high content screening; FOXO1; AKT; FOXO3
There are no effective antivirals currently available for the treatment of flavivirus infection in humans. As such, the identification and characterization of novel drug target sites are critical to developing new classes of antiviral drugs. The flavivirus NS5 N-terminal capping enzyme (CE) is vital for the formation of the viral RNA cap structure, which directs viral polyprotein translation and stabilizes the 5′ end of the viral genome. The structure of the flavivirus CE has been solved, and a detailed understanding of the CE–guanosine triphosphate (GTP) and CE–RNA cap interactions is available. Because of the essential nature of the interaction for viral replication, disrupting CE–GTP binding is an attractive approach for drug development. The authors have previously developed a robust assay for monitoring CE–GTP binding in real time. They adapted this assay for high-throughput screening and performed a pilot screen of 46 323 commercially available compounds. A number of small-molecule inhibitors capable of displacing a fluorescently labeled GTP in vitro were identified, and a second functional assay was developed to identify false positives. The results presented indicate that the flavivirus CE cap-binding site is a valuable new target site for antiviral drug discovery and should be further exploited for broad-spectrum anti-flaviviral drug development.
flavivirus; NS5 N-terminal capping enzyme (CE); high-throughput screening; drug development; anti-infective drugs; fluorescence polarization (FP)
The molecular pathology of many protein misfolding, toxic gain-of-function diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is not well understood. Although protein misfolding and aggregation are common themes in these diseases, efforts to identify cellular factors that regulate this process in an unbiased fashion and on a global scale have been lacking. Using an adapted version of an extant β-gal-based protein solubility assay, an expression screen for cellular modulators of solubility of an ALS-causing mutant SOD1 was carried out in mammalian cells. Following fluorescence-activated cell sorting enrichment of a mouse spinal cord cDNA library for gene products that increased SOD1 solubility, high-throughput screening of the cDNA pools from this enriched fraction was employed to identify pools containing relevant modulators. Positive pools, containing approximately 10 cDNA clones each, were diluted and rescreened iteratively until individual clones that improved SOD1 folding/solubility were identified. Genes with profound effects in the solubility assay were selected for validation by independent biochemical assays. Six of 10 validated genes had a significant effect on SOD1 solubility and folding in a SOD1 promoter-driven β-gal assay, indicating that global screening of cellular targets using such protein solubility/folding assay is viable and can be adapted for other misfolding diseases.
cDNA expression cloning screen; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; superoxide dismutase 1; protein solubility assay
The National Toxicology Program is developing a high throughput screening (HTS) program to set testing priorities for compounds of interest, to identify mechanisms of action, and potentially to develop predictive models for human toxicity. This program will generate extensive data on the activity of large numbers of chemicals in a wide variety of biochemical-and cell-based assays. The first step in relating patterns of response among batteries of HTS assays to in vivo toxicity is to distinguish between positive and negative compounds in individual assays. Here, we report on a statistical approach developed to identify compounds positive or negative in a HTS cytotoxicity assay based on data collected from screening 1353 compounds for concentration-response effects in nine human and four rodent cell types. In this approach, we develop methods to normalize the data (removing bias due to the location of the compound on the 1536-well plates used in the assay) and to analyze for concentration-response relationships. Various statistical tests for identifying significant concentration-response relationships and for addressing reproducibility are developed and presented.
high-throughput screening; dose-response; statistical modeling; viability assay
Inhibitors of human dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase-1 (DDAH-1) are of therapeutic interest for controlling pathological nitric oxide production. Only a limited number of biologically useful inhibitors have been identified, so structurally diverse lead compounds are desired. In contrast with previous assays that do not possesses adequate sensitivity for optimal screening, herein is reported a high-throughput assay that uses an alternative thiol-releasing substrate, S-methyl-L-thiocitrulline, and a thiol-reactive fluorophore, 7-diethylamino-3-(4′-maleimidylphenyl)-4-methylcoumarin, to enable continuous detection of product formation by DDAH-1. The assay is applied to query two commercial libraries totaling 4,446 compounds and two representative hits are described, including a known DDAH-1 inhibitor. This is the most sensitive DDAH-1 assay reported to date, and enables screening of compound libraries using [S] =KM conditions, while displaying Z′ factors from 0.6 – 0.8. Therefore, this strategy now makes possible high-throughput screening for human DDAH-1 inhibitors in pursuit of molecular probes and drugs to control excessive nitric oxide production.
Dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase; high-throughput screening; nitric oxide; CPM
Small GTPases are key regulators of cellular activity and represent novel targets for the treatment of human diseases using small molecule inhibitors. We describe a multiplex, flow cytometry bead-based assay for the identification and characterization of inhibitors or activators of small GTPases. Six different GST-tagged small GTPases were bound to glutathione beads each labeled with a different red fluorescence intensity. Subsequently, beads bearing different GTPase were mixed and dispensed into 384-well plates with test compounds, and fluorescent-GTP binding was used as the read-out. This novel multiplex assay allowed us to screen a library of almost 200,000 compounds and identify over 1,200 positive compounds, which were further verified by dose response analyses, using 6 to 8-plex assays. After the elimination of false positive and negative compounds, several small molecule families with opposing effects on GTP-binding activity were identified. Here we detail the characterization of MLS000532223, a general inhibitor that prevents GTP-binding to several GTPases in a dose-dependent manner and is active in biochemical and cell-based secondary assays. Live cell imaging and confocal microscopy studies revealed the inhibitor-induced actin reorganization and cell morphology changes, characteristic of Rho GTPases inhibition. Thus, high throughput screening (HTS) via flow cytometry provides a strategy for identifying novel compounds that are active against small GTPases.
Ras; Rab and Rho GTPases; actin cytoskeleton; bead-based multiplex assay; flow cytometry; fluorescent GTP binding