We introduce a label-free technology based on digital holographic microscopy (DHM) with applicability for screening by imaging, and we demonstrate its capability for cytotoxicity assessment using mammalian living cells. For this first high content screening compatible application, we automatized a digital holographic microscope for image acquisition of cells using commercially available 96-well plates. Data generated through both label-free DHM imaging and fluorescence-based methods were in good agreement for cell viability identification and a Z′-factor close to 0.9 was determined, validating the robustness of DHM assay for phenotypic screening. Further, an excellent correlation was obtained between experimental cytotoxicity dose–response curves and known IC50 values for different toxic compounds. For comparable results, DHM has the major advantages of being label free and close to an order of magnitude faster than automated standard fluorescence microscopy.
One of the challenges to develop time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET) assay for serine/threonine (Ser/Thr) protein kinase is to select an optimal peptide substrate and a specific phosphor Ser/Thr antibody. This report describes a multiplexed random screen-based development of TR-FRET assay for ultra-high-throughput screening (uHTS) of small molecule inhibitors for a potent cancer drug target polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1). A screen of a diverse peptide library in a 384-well plate format identified several highly potent substrates that share the consensus motif for phosphorylation by Plk1. Their potencies were comparable to FKD peptide, a designed peptide substrate derived from well-described Plk1 substrate Cdc25C. A specific anti-phosphor Ser/Thr antibody p(S/T)F antibody that detects the phosphorylation of FKD peptide was screened out of 87 antibodies with time-resolved fluorometry technology in a 96-well plate format. Using FKD peptide and p(S/T)F antibody, we successfully developed a robust TR-FRET assay in 384-well plate format, and further miniaturized this assay to 1,536-well plate format to perform uHTS. We screened about 1.2 million compounds for Plk1 inhibitors using a Plk1 deletion mutant that only has the kinase domain and subsequently screened the same compound library using a full-length active-mutant Plk1. These uHTSs identified a number of hit compounds, and some of them had selectivity to either the deletion mutant or the full-length protein. Our results prove that a combination of random screen for substrate peptide and phospho-specific antibodies is very powerful strategy to develop TR-FRET assays for protein kinases.
Hepatotoxicity is a major concern for both drug development and toxicological evaluation of environmental chemicals. The assessment of compound-induced hepatotoxicity has traditionally relied on in vivo testing; however, it is being replaced by human in vitro models due to an emphasis on the reduction of animal testing and species-specific differences. Since most cell lines and hybridomas lack the full complement of enzymes at physiological levels found in the liver, primary hepatocytes are the gold standard to study liver toxicities in vitro due to the retention of most of their in vivo activities. Here, we optimized a cell viability assay using plateable cryopreserved human hepatocytes in a 1536-well-plate format. The assay was validated by deriving inhibitory concentration at 50% values for 12 known compounds, including tamoxifen, staurosporine, and phenylmercuric acetate, with regard to hepatotoxicity and general cytotoxicity using multiple hepatocyte donors. The assay performed well, and the cytotoxicity of these compounds was confirmed in comparison to HepG2 cells. This is the first study to report the reliability of using plateable cryopreserved human hepatocytes for cytotoxicity studies in a 1536-well-plate format. These results suggest that plateable cryopreserved human hepatocytes can be scaled up for screening a large compound library and may be amenable to other hepatocytic assays such as metabolic or drug safety studies.
Traditional drug discovery efforts have resulted in the approval of a handful of receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) inhibitors; however, their discovery relied solely on screening recombinant kinases, often with poor cellular activity outcome. The ability to screen RTKs in their natural environment is sought as an alternative approach. We have adapted a novel strategy utilizing a green fluorescent protein–labeled SRC homology 2 domain–based biosensor as a surrogate reporter of endogenous epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) activity in A549 cells. Upon activation of the receptor, EGFR function in live cells is measured by the number of green granules that form. Here we describe assay miniaturization and demonstrate specificity for EGFR through its chemical inhibition and RNAi-dependent knockdown resulting in complete abrogation of granule formation. Gefitinib and PD 153035 were identified as hits in a pilot screen. This approach allows for the identification of novel EGFR modulators in high-throughput formats for screening chemical and RNAi libraries.
Interactions with extracellular matrices (ECM) shape the signaling and functions of many types of cells and receptors, and distinct ECM coatings have been used in a wide range of substrates for drug discovery processes. Here, we investigate the influence of ECM protein coatings on the signaling of endogenous purinergic 2Y (P2Y) receptors in human embryonic kidney HEK293 cells using dynamic mass redistribution (DMR) assays enabled by label-free optical biosensor. Results showed that ECM proteins had significant impacts on the DMR characteristics, potency, and efficacy of seven P2Y agonists. This study documents the importance of surface chemistry in regulating receptor signaling.
The emergence and spread of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum and recent detection of potential artemisinin-resistant strains in Southeast Asia highlight the importance of developing novel antimalarial therapies. Using a previously generated stable transgenic P. falciparum line with high-level firefly luciferase expression, we report the adaptation, miniaturization, optimization, and validation of a high-throughput screening assay in 384-well plates. Assay conditions, including the percentage of parasitemia and hematocrit, were optimized. Parameters of assay robustness, including Z′-value, coefficient variation (CV), and signal-to-background (S/B) ratio, were determined. The LOPAC1280
small-compound library was used to validate this assay. Our results demonstrated that this assay is robust and reliable, with an average Z′-value of >0.7 and CV of <10%. Moreover, this assay showed a very low background, with the S/B ratio up to 71. Further, identified hits were selected and confirmed using a SYBR Green I-based confirmatory assay. It is evident that this assay is suitable for large-scale screening of chemical libraries for antimalarial drug discovery.
The aim of our work was to establish flow cytometry methods for the characterization of mitochondrial Ca2+
levels, plasma membrane potential, and superoxide generation and to relate kinetics to that of cytoplasmic Ca2+
levels during short-term activation of T-lymphocytes. We monitored the change of fluorescence absorbance of sequentially measured Jurkat cells for 12 min. The cells were stained with the fluorescent dyes Fluo3-AM, Rhod2/AM, di-BA-C4-(5), or dihydroethidium and then were stimulated with increasing doses of phytohemagglutinin (PHA) or were treated with rotenone. Double-logistic function was fitted to cytoplasmic Ca2+
signal and mitochondrial Ca2+
levels, whereas logistic function was fitted to plasma membrane potential and superoxide levels. The calculated function parameters were area under the curve (AUC), maximum (Max), time to reach maximum (tmax), slope at the first 50% value of Max (Slope), and ending (End) values, respectively. We found significant dose–response relationship between PHA dose and cytoplasmic Ca2+
signals (AUC, Max, Slope: P<0.05), mitochondrial Ca2+
levels (AUC and Max: P<0.05), and plasma membrane potential (AUC and End values: P<0.05). In rotenone-treated cells, superoxide generation increased in a dose-dependent manner (P<0.05 for AUC and End values, respectively). The present methodology provides an opportunity for monitoring and characterizing mitochondrial Ca2+
levels, plasma membrane potential, and superoxide generation in PHA-activated or rotenone-treated Jurkat cells with flow cytometry.
Agonist-induced glucocorticoid receptor [GR] transport from the cytoplasm to the nucleus was used as a model to identify dynein-mediated cargo transport inhibitors. Cell-based screening of the library of pharmacologically active compound (LOPAC)-1280 collection identified several small molecules that stalled the agonist-induced transport of GR-green fluorescent protein (GFP) in a concentration-dependent manner. Fluorescent images of microtubule organization, nuclear DNA staining, expression of GR-GFP, and its subcellular distribution were inspected and quantified by image analysis to evaluate the impact of compounds on cell morphology, toxicity, and GR transport. Given the complexity of the multi-protein complex involved in dynein-mediated cargo transport and the variety of potential mechanisms for interruption of that process, we therefore developed and validated a panel of biochemical assays to investigate some of the more likely intracellular target(s) of the GR transport inhibitors. Although the apomorphine enantiomers exhibited the most potency toward the ATPase activities of cytoplasmic dynein, myosin, and the heat-shock proteins (HSPs), their apparent lack of specificity made them unattractive for further study in our quest. Other molecules appeared to be nonspecific inhibitors that targeted reactive cysteines of proteins. Ideally, specific retrograde transport inhibitors would either target dynein itself or one of the other important proteins associated with the transport process. Although the hits from the cell-based screen of the LOPAC-1280 collection did not exhibit this desired profile, this screening platform provided a promising phenotypic system for the discovery of dynein/HSP modulators.
The xCELLigence real time cell analyzer Cardio system offers a new system for real-time cell analysis that measures impedance-based signals in a label-free noninvasive manner. The aim of this study was to test whether impedance readings are a useful tool to detect compound effects on beating frequency (beats per minute, bpm) and arrhythmias of human induced pluripotent stem cell- and a mouse embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocyte line (hiPSC-CM and mESC-CM, respectively). Baseline values for control wells were 45±3 and 179±6 bpm, respectively (n=6). Correspondingly, isoproterenol increased beating frequency by 77% and 71%, whereas carbachol decreased frequency by 11% and 100% (stopped in 5/6 mESC-CM wells). E-4031 decreased beating rate and caused arrhythmias in both cell types, however, more pronounced in the human iPSC-CMs. Amlodipine inhibited contractions in both models, and T-type calcium channel block strongly reduced beating rate and eventually stopped beating in mESC-CM but caused a smaller effect in hiPSC-CM. The results of this initial study show that, under the right conditions, the beating frequency of a monolayer of cells can be stably recorded over several days. Additionally, the system detects changes in beating frequency and amplitude caused by added reference compounds. This assay system has the potential to enable medium-throughput screening, but for implementation into routine daily work, extended validation, testing of additional batches of cardiomyocytes, and further assay optimization (e.g., frequency of media exchange, growth matrix, seeding density, age of cells after plating, and temperature control) will be needed.
FK506 binding protein12.6 (FKBP12.6) binds to the Ca2+ release channel ryanodine receptor (RyR2) in cardiomyocytes and stabilizes RyR2 to prevent premature sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release. Previously, two different mouse strains deficient in FKBP12.6 were reported to have different abnormal cardiac phenotypes. The first mutant strain displayed sex-dependent cardiac hypertrophy, while the second displayed exercise-induced cardiac arrhythmia and sudden death. In this study, we tested whether FKBP12.6-deficient mice that display hypertrophic hearts can develop exercise-induced cardiac sudden death and whether the hypertrophic heart is a direct consequence of abnormal calcium handling in mutant cardiomyocytes. Our data show that FKBP12.6-deficient mice with cardiac hypertrophy do not display exercise-induced arrhythmia and/or sudden cardiac death. To investigate the role of FKBP12.6 overexpression for cardiac function and cardiomyocyte calcium release, we generated a transgenic mouse line with cardiac specific overexpression of FKBP12.6 using α-myosin heavy chain (αMHC) promoter. MHC-FKBP12.6 mice displayed normal cardiac development and function. We demonstrated that MHC-FKBP12.6 mice are able to rescue abnormal cardiac hypertrophy and abnormal calcium release in FKBP12.6-deficient mice.
The unintended and often promiscous inhibition of the cardiac human Ether-à-go-go related gene (hERG) potassium channel is a common cause for either delay or removal of therapeutic compounds from development and withdrawal of marketed drugs. The clinical manifestion is prolongation of the duration between QRS complex and T-wave measured by surface electrocardiogram (ECG)—hence Long QT Syndrome. There are several useful online resources documenting hERG inhibition by known drugs and bioactives. However, their utilities remain somewhat limited because they are biased toward well-studied compounds and their number of data points tends to be much smaller than many commercial compound libraries. The hERGCentral (www.hergcentral.org) is mainly based on experimental data obtained from a primary screen by electrophysiology against more than 300,000 structurally diverse compounds. The system is aimed to display and combine three resources: primary electrophysiological data, literature, as well as online reports and chemical library collections. Currently, hERGCentral has annotated datasets of more than 300,000 compounds including structures and chemophysiological properties of compounds, raw traces, and biophysical properties. The system enables a variety of query formats, including searches for hERG effects according to either chemical structure or properties, and alternatively according to the specific biophysical properties of current changes caused by a compound. Therefore, the hERGCentral, as a unique and evolving resource, will facilitate investigation of chemically induced hERG inhibition and therefore drug development.
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.
The success in screening for drug candidates is highly dependent on the power of the strategy implemented. In this work, we report and characterize a novel fluorescent benzodiazepine antagonist of the type 1 cholecystokinin receptor (3-(3-(7-fluoro-1-(2-isopropyl(4-methoxyphenyl)amino)-2-oxoethyl)-2,4-dioxo-5-phenyl-2,3,4,5-tetrahydro-1H-benzo[b][1,4]-diazepin-3-yl)ureido)benzoic acid) that can be used as a receptor ligand in a fluorescence polarization assay, which is ideally suited for the identification of small molecule allosteric modulators of this physiologically important receptor. By binding directly to the small molecule-docking region within the helical bundle of this receptor, this indicator can be displaced by many small molecule candidate drugs, even those that might not affect the binding of an orthosteric cholecystokinin-like peptide ligand. The biological, pharmacological, and fluorescence properties of this reagent are described, and proof-of-concept is provided in a fluorescence polarization assay utilizing this fluorescent benzodiazepine ligand.
Förster (fluorescence) resonance energy transfer (FRET) and fluorescence polarization (FP) are widely used technologies for monitoring bimolecular interactions and have been extensively used in high-throughput screening (HTS) for probe and drug discovery. Despite their popularity in HTS, it has been recognized that different assay technologies may generate different hit lists for the same biochemical interaction. Due to the high cost of large-scale HTS campaigns, one has to make a critical choice to employee one assay platform for a particular HTS. Here we report the design and development of a dual-readout HTS assay that combines two assay technologies into one system using the Mcl-1 and Noxa BH3 peptide interaction as a model system. In this system, both FP and FRET signals were simultaneously monitored from one reaction, which is termed “Dual-Readout F2 assay” with F2 for FP and FRET. This dual-readout technology has been optimized in a 1,536-well ultra-HTS format for the discovery of Mcl-1 protein inhibitors and achieved a robust performance. This F2 assay was further validated by screening a library of 102,255 compounds. As two assay platforms are utilized for the same target simultaneously, hit information is enriched without increasing the screening cost. This strategy can be generally extended to other FP-based assays and is expected to enrich primary HTS information and enhance the hit quality of HTS campaigns.
Lipolysis in adipocytes is associated with phosphorylation of hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) and translocation of HSL to lipid droplets. In this study, adipocytes were cultured in a high-throughput format (96-well dishes), exposed to lipolytic agents, and then fixed and labeled for nuclei, lipid droplets, and HSL (or HSL phosphorylated on serine 660 [pHSLser660]). The cells were imaged via automated digital fluorescence microscopy, and high-content analysis (HCA) methods were used to quantify HSL phosphorylation and the degree to which HSL (or pHSLser660) colocalizes with the lipid droplets. HSL:lipid droplet colocalization was quantified through use of Pearson's correlation, Mander's M1 Colocalization, and the Tanimoto coefficient. For murine 3T3L1 adipocytes, isoproterenol, Lys-γ3-melanocyte stimulating hormone, and forskolin elicited the appearance and colocalization of pHSLser660, whereas atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) did not. For human subcutaneous adipocytes, isoproterenol, forskolin, and ANP activated HSL phosphorylation/colocalization, but Lys-γ3-melanocyte stimulating hormone had little or no effect. Since ANP activates guanosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate (cGMP)-dependent protein kinase, HSL serine 660 is likely a substrate for cGMP-dependent protein kinase in human adipocytes. For both adipocyte model systems, adipocytes with the greatest lipid content displayed the greatest lipolytic responses. The results for pHSLser660 were consistent with release of glycerol by the cells, a well-established assay of lipolysis, and the HCA methods yielded Z′ values >0.50. The results illustrate several key differences between human and murine adipocytes and demonstrate advantages of utilizing HCA techniques to study lipolysis in cultured adipocytes.
Despite extensive efforts in tuberculosis (TB) drug research, very few novel inhibitors have been discovered. This issue emphasizes the need for innovative methods to discover new anti-TB drugs. In this study, we established a new high-throughput screen (HTS) platform technology that differs from traditional TB drug screens because it utilizes Mycobacterial–Protein Fragment Complementation (M-PFC) to identify small molecule inhibitors of protein–protein interactions in mycobacteria. Several examples of protein–protein interactions were tested with M-PFC to highlight the diversity of selectable drug targets that could be used for screening. These included interactions of essential regulators (IdeR dimerization), enzymatic complexes (LeuCD), secretory antigens (Cfp10-Esat6), and signaling pathways (DevR dimerization). The feasibility of M-PFC in a HTS platform setting was tested by performing a proof-of-concept quantitative HTS of 3,600 small molecule compounds on DevR–DevR interaction, which was chosen because of its strong implications in Mycobacterium tuberculosis persistence and the need for effective drugs against latent TB. The calculated Z′-factor was consistently ≥0.8, indicating a robust and reproducible assay. Completion of the proof-of-concept screen allowed for the identification of advantages and disadvantages in the current assay design, where improvements made will further pioneer M-PFC-based applications in a large-scale HTS format.
Here we describe a novel functional screening assay based on bioluminescence monitoring of the naturally secreted Gaussia luciferase (Gluc) in the conditioned medium of cultured cells. Using this assay, we identified small-molecule drugs that sensitized brain tumor cells to the tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand-induced cell death. Human glioblastoma multiforme cells were engineered by gene transfer to express Gluc as a reporter for cell viability, which can be monitored over time by bioluminescence measurements using a plate luminometer. We have optimized the Gluc assay for screening and validated it using the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) custom collection II library consisting of 1,040 drugs and bioactive compounds, most of which are Food and Drug Administration-approved and are able to cross the blood–brain barrier. We found that the cardiac glycosides family sensitized glioblastoma multiforme cells to the tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand-induced apoptosis. In conclusion, the Gluc secretion assay is a robust tool for functional drug screening and can be applied to many different fields including cancer.
Heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) is a chaperone protein that helps protect against cellular stress, a function that may be co-opted to fight human diseases. In particular, the upregulation of Hsp70 can suppress the neurotoxicity of misfolded proteins, suggesting possible therapeutic strategies in neurodegenerative diseases. Alternatively, in cancer cells where high levels of Hsp70 inhibit both intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathways, a reduction in Hsp70 levels may induce apoptosis. To evaluate and identify, in a single assay format, small molecules that induce or inhibit endogenous Hsp70, we have designed and optimized a microtiter assay that relies on whole-cell immunodetection of Hsp70. The assay utilizes a minimal number of neuronal or cancer cells, yet is sufficiently sensitive and reproducible to permit quantitative determinations. We further validated the assay using a panel of Hsp70 modulators. In conclusion, we have developed an assay that is fast, robust, and cost efficient. As such, it can be implemented in most research laboratories. The assay should greatly improve the speed at which novel Hsp70 inducers and inhibitors of expression can be identified and evaluated.
Automated microscopy was introduced two decades ago and has become an integral part of the discovery process as a high-content screening platform with noticeable challenges in executing cell-based assays. It would be of interest to use it to screen for reversers of a transformed cell phenotype. In this report, we present data obtained from an optimized assay that identifies compounds that reverse a transformed phenotype induced in NIH-3T3 cells by expressing a novel oncogene, KP, resulting from fusion between platelet derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRα) and kinase insert domain receptor (KDR), that was identified in human glioblastoma. Initial image acquisitions using multiple tiles per well were found to be insufficient as to accurately image and quantify the clusters; whole-well imaging, performed on the IN Cell Analyzer 2000, while still two-dimensional imaging, was found to accurately image and quantify clusters, due largely to the inherent variability of their size and well location. The resulting assay exhibited a Z′ value of 0.79 and a signal-to-noise ratio of 15, and it was validated against known effectors and shown to identify only PDGFRα inhibitors, and then tested in a pilot screen against a library of 58 known inhibitors identifying mostly PDGFRα inhibitors as reversers of the KP induced transformed phenotype. In conclusion, our optimized and validated assay using whole-well imaging is robust and sensitive in identifying compounds that reverse the transformed phenotype induced by KP with a broader applicability to other cell-based assays that are challenging in HTS against chemical and RNAi libraries.
The reversible conjugation of ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like (UbL) proteins to protein substrates plays a critical role in the regulation of many cellular pathways. The removal of ubiquitin from target proteins is performed by ubiquitin proteases also known as deubiquitylases (DUBs). Owing to their substrate specificity and the central role ubiquitylation plays in cell signaling pathways, DUB are attractive targets for therapeutic development. The development of DUB inhibitors requires assays that are amenable to high-throughput screening and provide rapid assessment of inhibitor selectivity. Determination of inhibitor selectivity at an early stage of drug discovery will reduce drug failure in the clinic as well as reduce overall drug development costs. We have developed two novel assays, UbL-Enterokinase light chain and UbL-Granzyme B, for quantifying ubiquitin and UbL protease activity. In our quest to discover and characterize novel chemical entities, we have combined these assays with a previously developed assay in a multiplex format. This multiplex format allows for the detection of three distinct protease activities simultaneously, in a single well. We have demonstrated that the multiplex format is able to distinguish between selective and nonselective protease inhibitors. Specifically, we have used this assay format to characterize P022077, a selective ubiquitin-specific protease 7 inhibitor discovered at Progenra.
Reverse cholesterol transport is the process by which extrahepatic cells, including macrophage-derived foam cells in arterial atherosclerotic plaque, transport excessive cholesterol back to the liver for bile acid synthesis and excretion, thus lowering the peripheral lipid burden. Cholesterol efflux from peripheral cells is the first step in this process, and finding drugs and interventions that promote this event is an important endeavor. Radioisotope-labeled cholesterol traditionally has been employed in measuring efflux efficiency, but this reagent has limitations for high-throughput screening. We developed an alternative method to measure cholesterol efflux in macrophage-derived foam cells using a novel fluorescent cholesterol mimic comprising the Pennsylvania Green fluorophore, attached by a linker containing a glutamic acid residue, to a derivative of N-alkyl-3β-cholesterylamine. Compared with the traditional radioisotope-based assay, this fluorescence-based assay gave similar results in the presence of known modulators of cholesterol efflux, such as cyclic AMP, and different cholesterol acceptors. When the fluorescent probe was employed in a high-throughput screening format, a variety of chemicals and bioactive compounds with known and unknown effects on cholesterol efflux could be tested simultaneously by plate-reader in a short period of time. Treatment of THP-1-derived macrophages with inhibitors of the membrane transporter ATP-binding cassette A1, such as glyburide or a specific antibody, significantly reduced the export of this fluorescent compound, indicating that ATP-binding cassette A1 represents the primary mediator of its cellular efflux. This fluorescent mimic of cholesterol provides a safe, sensitive, and reproducible alternative to radioactive assays in efflux experiments and has great potential as a valuable tool when incorporated into a drug discovery program.
Bacterial histidine kinases (HK) are members of the GHKL superfamily, which share a unique adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-binding Bergerat fold. Our previous studies have shown that Gyrase, Hsp90, MutL (GHL) inhibitors bind to the ATP-binding pocket of HK and may provide lead compounds for the design of novel antibiotics targeting these kinases. In this article, we developed a competition assay using the fluorescent ATP analog, 2′,3′-O-(2,4,6-trinitrophenyl) adenosine 5′-triphosphate. The method can be used for high-throughput screening of compound libraries targeting HKs or other ATP-binding proteins. We utilized the assay to screen a library of GHL inhibitors targeting the bacterial HK PhoQ, and discuss the applications of the 2′,3′-O-(2,4,6-trinitrophenyl) adenosine 5′-triphosphate competition assay beyond GHKL inhibitor screening.
Bone loss due to metabolic or hormonal disorders and osteolytic tumor metastasis continues to be a costly health problem, but current therapeutics offer only modest efficacy. Unraveling of the critical role for the receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa B (RANK) and its ligand, RANK ligand (RANKL), in osteoclast biology provides an opportunity to develop more effective antiresorptive drugs. The in vivo effectiveness of RANKL inhibitors demonstrates the potency of the RANKL/RANK system as a drug target. Here, we report the development of cell-based assays for high-throughput screening to identify compounds that inhibit signaling from two RANK cytoplasmic motifs (PVQEET559-564 and PVQEQG604-609), which play potent roles in osteoclast formation and function. Inhibitors of these motifs' signaling have the potential to be developed into new antiresorptive drugs that can complement current therapies. The cell-based assays consist of cell lines generated from RAW264.7 macrophages stably expressing a nuclear factor-kappa B-responsive luciferase reporter and a chimeric receptor containing the human Fas external domain linked to a murine RANK transmembrane and intracellular domain in which only one of the RANK motifs is functional. With these cells, specific RANK motif activation after chimeric receptor stimulation can be measured as an increase in luciferase activity. These assays demonstrated >300% increases in luciferase activity after RANK motif activation and Z ′-factor values over 0.55. Our assays will be used to screen compound libraries for molecules that exhibit inhibitory activity. Follow-up assays will refine hits to a smaller group of more specific inhibitors of RANK signaling.
It has been reported by Zhang et al. that antidiabetic sulfonylurea drugs promote insulin secretion by directly binding to exchange protein directly activated by cyclic AMP isoform 2 (Epac2) and activating its down-stream effector Rap1. However, a critical link for an unambiguous validation of a direct interaction between Epac2 and sulfonylurea using purified individual components is missing. Our in vitro analyses using purified full-length Epac2 and Rap1 suggest that sulfonylureas are not able to directly bind to Epac2, nor are they capable of triggering Epac2-dependent Rap1 activation.