Malaria is a deadly infectious disease in many tropical and subtropical countries. Previous efforts to eradicate malaria have failed, largely due to the emergence of drug-resistant parasites, insecticide-resistant mosquitoes and, in particular, the lack of drugs or vaccines to block parasite transmission. ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters are known to play a role in drug transport, metabolism, and resistance in many organisms, including malaria parasites. To investigate whether a Plasmodium falciparum ABC transporter (Pf14_0244 or PfABCG2) modulates parasite susceptibility to chemical compounds or plays a role in drug resistance, we disrupted the gene encoding PfABCG2, screened the recombinant and the wild-type 3D7 parasites against a library containing 2,816 drugs approved for human or animal use, and identified an antihistamine (ketotifen) that became less active against the PfABCG2-disrupted parasite in culture. In addition to some activity against asexual stages and gametocytes, ketotifen was highly potent in blocking oocyst development of P. falciparum and the rodent parasite Plasmodium yoelii in mosquitoes. Tests of structurally related tricyclic compounds identified additional compounds with similar activities in inhibiting transmission. Additionally, ketotifen appeared to have some activity against relapse of Plasmodium cynomolgi infection in rhesus monkeys. Further clinical evaluation of ketotifen and related compounds, including synthetic new derivatives, in blocking malaria transmission may provide new weapons for the current effort of malaria eradication.
Background: Over the past 20 years, an increased focus on detecting environmental chemicals that pose a risk of adverse effects due to endocrine disruption has driven the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP). Thousands of chemicals are subject to the EDSP; thus, processing these chemicals using current test batteries could require millions of dollars and decades. A need for increased throughput and efficiency motivated the development of methods using in vitro high throughput screening (HTS) assays to prioritize chemicals for EDSP Tier 1 screening (T1S).
Objective: In this study we used U.S. EPA ToxCast HTS assays for estrogen, androgen, steroidogenic, and thyroid-disrupting mechanisms to classify compounds and compare ToxCast results to in vitro and in vivo data from EDSP T1S assays.
Method: We implemented an iterative model that optimized the ability of endocrine-related HTS assays to predict components of EDSP T1S and related results. Balanced accuracy was used as a measure of model performance.
Results: ToxCast estrogen receptor and androgen receptor assays predicted the results of relevant EDSP T1S assays with balanced accuracies of 0.91 (p < 0.001) and 0.92 (p < 0.001), respectively. Uterotrophic and Hershberger assay results were predicted with balanced accuracies of 0.89 (p < 0.001) and 1 (p < 0.001), respectively. Models for steroidogenic and thyroid-related effects could not be developed with the currently published ToxCast data.
Conclusions: Overall, results suggest that current ToxCast assays can accurately identify chemicals with potential to interact with the estrogenic and androgenic pathways, and could help prioritize chemicals for EDSP T1S assays.
androgen; endocrine; estrogen; high throughput; in vitro; ToxCast
The human cytochrome P450 (CYP450) isozymes are the most important enzymes in the body to metabolize many endogenous and exogenous substances including environmental toxins and therapeutic drugs. Any unnecessary interactions between a small molecule and CYP450 isozymes may raise a potential to disarm the integrity of the protection. Accurately predicting the potential interactions between a small molecule and CYP450 isozymes is highly desirable for assessing the metabolic stability and toxicity of the molecule. The National Institutes of Health Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC) has screened a collection of over seventeen thousand compounds against the five major isozymes of CYP450 (1A2, 2C9, 2C19, 2D6 and 3A4) in a quantitative high throughput screening (qHTS) format. In this study, we developed support vector classification (SVC) models for these five isozymes using a set of customized generic atom types. The CYP450 datasets were randomly split into equal-sized training and test sets. The optimized SVC models exhibited high predictive power against the test sets for all five CYP450 isozymes with accuracies of 0.93, 0.89, 0.89, 0.85 and 0.87 for 1A2, 2C9, 2C19, 2D6 and 3A4, respectively, as measured by the area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves. The important atom types and features extracted from the five models are consistent with the structural preferences for different CYP450 substrates reported in the literature. We also identified novel features with significant discerning power to separate CYP450 actives from inactives. These models can be useful in prioritizing compounds in a drug discovery pipeline, or recognizing the toxic potential of environmental chemicals.
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
Malaria remains a devastating disease largely because of widespread drug resistance. New drugs and a better understanding of the mechanisms of drug action and resistance are essential for fulfilling the promise of eradicating malaria. Using high-throughput chemical screening and genome-wide association analysis, we identified 32 highly active compounds and genetic loci and genes associated with differential chemical phenotypes (DCPs), defined as ≥5-fold differences in half-maximum inhibitor concentration (IC50) between parasite lines. Chromosomal loci associated with 49 DCPs were confirmed by linkage analysis and tests of genetically modified parasites, including three genes that were linked to 96% of the DCPs. Drugs whose responses mapped to wild type or mutant pfcrt alleles were tested in combination in vitro and in vivo, yielding promising new leads for antimalarial treatments.
Plasmodium falciparum; high-throughput screening; genetic mapping; chemical genomics; phenotype
Background: Oxidative stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of a variety of diseases ranging from cancer to neurodegeneration, highlighting the need to identify chemicals that can induce this effect. The antioxidant response element (ARE) signaling pathway plays an important role in the amelioration of oxidative stress. Thus, assays that detect the up-regulation of this pathway could be useful for identifying chemicals that induce oxidative stress.
Objectives: We used cell-based reporter methods and informatics tools to efficiently screen a large collection of environmental chemicals and identify compounds that induce oxidative stress.
Methods: We utilized two cell-based ARE assay reporters, β-lactamase and luciferase, to screen a U.S. National Toxicology Program 1,408-compound library (NTP 1408, which contains 1,340 unique compounds) for their ability to induce oxidative stress in HepG2 cells using quantitative high throughput screening (qHTS).
Results: Roughly 3% (34 of 1,340) of the unique compounds demonstrated activity across both cell-based assays. Based on biological activity and structure–activity relationship profiles, we selected 50 compounds for retesting in the two ARE assays and in an additional follow-up assay that employed a mutated ARE linked to β-lactamase. Using this strategy, we identified 30 compounds that demonstrated activity in the ARE-bla and ARE-luc assays and were able to determine structural features conferring compound activity across assays.
Conclusions: Our results support the robustness of using two different cell-based approaches for identifying compounds that induce ARE signaling. Together, these methods are useful for prioritizing chemicals for further in-depth mechanism-based toxicity testing.
ARE; Nrf2; oxidative stress; qHTS; toxicity; Tox21
The thyroid hormone receptors (TR) are members of the nuclear hormone receptor (NHR) superfamily that regulate development, growth, and metabolism. Upon ligand binding, TR releases bound corepressors and recruits coactivators to modulate target gene expression. Steroid Receptor Coactivator 2 (SRC2) is an important coregulator that interacts with TRβ to activate gene transcription. To identify novel inhibitors of the TRβ and SRC2 interaction, we performed a quantitative high throughput screen (qHTS) of a TRβ-SRC2 fluorescence polarization assay against more than 290,000 small molecules. The qHTS assayed compounds at six concentrations up to 92 uM to generate titration-response curves and determine the potency and efficacy of all compounds. The qHTS dataset enabled the characterization of actives for structure-activity relationships as well as for potential artifacts such as fluorescence interference. Selected qHTS actives were tested in the screening assay using fluoroprobes labeled with Texas Red or fluorescein. The retest identified 19 series and 4 singletons as active in both assays with 40% or greater efficacy, free of compound interference and not toxic to mammalian cells. Selected compounds were tested as independent samples and a methylsulfonylnitrobenzoate series inhibited the TRβ-SRC2 interaction with 5 uM IC50. This series represents a new class of thyroid hormone receptor-coactivator modulators.
thyroid receptor; small molecule; HTS; coactivator; protein-protein interaction
Pleasure-seeking deficits, including lack of libido, are a core feature of depression. Animal and preliminary clinical studies both suggest that phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) is a target for developing novel antidepressants. This study examined the potential involvement of PDE4 in the pathology of depression in both animal models and human postmortem brains. In humans, PDE4B and PDE4D levels were elevated in cingulate cortical tissue from individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) compared to controls. Using the female urine smelling test (FUST), a recently refined method for monitoring sexual pleasure-seeking activity in mice, we found that icv infusion of novel, selective, and potent PDE4 inhibitors enhanced sexual pleasure-seeking activity in male mice that underwent the learned helplessness or serotonin depletion paradigms. The infusion also increased sexual pleasure-seeking activity in naïve male mice. The results suggest that PDE4 may be a plausible contributor to the sexual pleasure-seeking deficits seen in depressed patients; inhibiting PDE4 may restore these deficits.
PDE4; postmortem human brain; depression; pleasure-seeking activity
The human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG) channel, a member of a family of voltage-gated potassium (K+) channels, plays a critical role in the repolarization of the cardiac action potential. The reduction of hERG channel activity as a result of adverse drug effects or genetic mutations may cause QT interval prolongation and potentially lead to acquired long QT syndrome. Thus, screening for hERG channel activity is important in drug development. Cardiotoxicity associated with the inhibition of hERG channels by environmental chemicals is also a public health concern. To assess the inhibitory effects of environmental chemicals on hERG channel function, we screened the National Toxicology Program (NTP) collection of 1408 compounds by measuring thallium influx into cells through hERG channels. Seventeen compounds with hERG channel inhibition were identified with IC50 potencies ranging from 0.26 to 22 μM. Twelve of these compounds were confirmed as hERG channel blockers in an automated whole cell patch clamp experiment. In addition, we investigated the structure-activity relationship of seven compounds belonging to the quaternary ammonium compound (QAC) series on hERG channel inhibition. Among four active QAC compounds, tetra-n-octylammonium bromide was the most potent with an IC50 value of 260 nM in the thallium influx assay and 80 nM in the patch clamp assay. The potency of this class of hERG channel inhibitors appears to depend on the number and length of their aliphatic side-chains surrounding the charged nitrogen. Profiling environmental compound libraries for hERG channel inhibition provides information useful in prioritizing these compounds for cardiotoxicity assessment in vivo.
cardiotoxicity; hERG; long QT syndrome; NTP 1408 library; patch clamp; qHTS; tetra-n-octylammonium bromide; thallium influx
Small-molecule compounds approved for use as drugs may be “repurposed” for new indications and studied to determine the mechanisms of their beneficial and adverse effects. A comprehensive collection of all small-molecule drugs approved for human use would be invaluable for systematic repurposing across human diseases, particularly for rare and neglected diseases, for which the cost and time required for development of a new chemical entity are often prohibitive. Previous efforts to build such a comprehensive collection have been limited by the complexities, redundancies, and semantic inconsistencies of drug naming within and among regulatory agencies worldwide; a lack of clear conceptualization of what constitutes a drug; and a lack of access to physical samples. We report here the creation of a definitive, complete, and nonredundant list of all approved molecular entities as a freely available electronic resource and a physical collection of small molecules amenable to high-throughput screening.
Previous studies have shown DNA re-replication can be induced in cells derived from human cancers under conditions in which cells derived from normal tissues are not. Since DNA re-replication induces cell death, this strategy could be applied to the discovery of potential anticancer therapeutics. Therefore, an imaging assay amenable to high-throughput screening was developed that measures DNA replication in excess of four genomic equivalents in the nuclei of intact cells and indexes cell proliferation. This assay was validated by screening a library of 1280 bioactive molecules on both normal and tumor-derived cells where it proved more sensitive than current methods for detecting excess DNA replication. This screen identified known inducers of excess DNA replication such as inhibitors of microtubule dynamics, as well as novel compounds that induced excess DNA replication in both normal and cancer cells. In addition, two compounds were identified that induced excess DNA replication selectively in cancer cells, and one that induced endocycles selectively in cancer cells. Thus, this assay provides a new approach to the discovery of compounds useful for investigating the regulation of genome duplication and for the treatment of cancer.
Included among the quantitative high throughput screens (qHTS) conducted in support of the U.S. Tox21 program are those being evaluated for the detection of genotoxic compounds. One such screen is based on the induction of increased cytotoxicity in 7 isogenic chicken DT40 cell lines deficient in DNA repair pathways compared to the parental DNA repair-proficient cell line. To characterize the utility of this approach for detecting genotoxic compounds and identifying the type(s) of DNA damage induced, we evaluated nine of 42 compounds identified as positive for differential cytotoxicity in qHTS (actinomycin D, adriamycin, alachlor, benzotrichloride, diglycidyl resorcinol ether, lovastatin, melphalan, trans-1,4-dichloro-2-butene, tris(2,3-epoxypropyl)isocyanurate) and one non-cytotoxic genotoxic compound (2-aminothiamine) for (1) clastogenicity in mutant and wild-type cells; (2) the comparative induction of γH2AX positive foci by melphalan; (3) the extent to which a 72-hr exposure duration increased assay sensitivity or specificity; (4) the use of 10 additional DT40 DNA repair-deficient cell lines to better analyze the type(s) of DNA damage induced; and (5) the involvement of reactive oxygen species in the induction of DNA damage. All compounds but lovastatin and 2-aminothiamine were more clastogenic in at least one DNA repair-deficient cell line than the wild-type cells. The differential responses across the various DNA repair-deficient cell lines provided information on the type(s) of DNA damage induced. The results demonstrate the utility of this DT40 screen for detecting genotoxic compounds, for characterizing the nature of the DNA damage, and potentially for analyzing mechanisms of mutagenesis.
DT40 DNA repair-deficient cell lines; quantitative high throughput screens; cytotoxicity; genotoxicity; chromosomal aberrations; γH2AX positive foci
The U.S. Tox21 collaborative program represents a paradigm shift in toxicity testing of chemical compounds from traditional in vivo tests to less expensive and higher throughput in vitro methods to prioritize compounds for further study, identify mechanisms of action, and ultimately develop predictive models for adverse health effects in humans. The NIH Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC) is an integral component of the Tox21 collaboration due to its quantitative high throughput screening (qHTS) paradigm, in which titration-based screening is used to profile hundreds of thousands of compounds per week. Here, we describe the Tox21 collaboration, qHTS-based compound testing, and the various Tox21 screening assays that have been validated and tested at the NCGC to date.
Tox21; National Research Council; National Toxicology Program; toxicity testing; in vitro assays; NIH Roadmap; NIH Chemical Genomics Center; quantitative high-throughput screening
Opiates are potent analgesics but also drugs of abuse mainly because they produce euphoria. Chronic use of opiates results in the development of tolerance and dependence. Dr Marshall Nirenberg’s group at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was the first to use a cellular model system of Neuroblastoma×Glioma hybrid cells (NG108-15) to study morphine addiction. They showed that opiates affect adenylyl cyclase (AC) by two opposing mechanisms mediated by the opiate receptor. Although the cellular mechanisms that cause addiction are not yet completely understood, the most observed correlative biochemical adaptation is the upregulation of adenylyl cyclase. This model also provides the opportunity to look for compounds which could dissociate the acute effect of opiates from the delayed response, upregulation of AC, and thus lead to the discovery of non-addictive drugs. To identify small molecule compounds that can inhibit morphine-induced cAMP overshoot, we have validated and optimized a cell-based assay in a high throughput format that measures cellular cAMP production after morphine withdrawal. The assay performed well in the 1536-well plate format. The LOPAC library of 1280 compounds was screened in this assay on a quantitative high throughput screening (qHTS) platform. A group of compounds that can inhibit morphine induced cAMP overshoot were identified. The most potent compounds are eight naloxone related compounds, including levallorphan tartrate, naloxonazine dihydrochloride, naloxone hydrochloride, naltrexone hydrochloride, and naltriben methanesulfonate. The qHTS approach we used in this study will be useful in identifying novel inhibitors of morphine induced addiction from a larger scale screening.
adenylyl cyclase (AC); Adenosine- 3’,5’-monophosphate (cAMP); quantitative high- throughput screening (qHTS); µ opioid receptor (morphine receptor); Human embryonic kidney293- µ opioid receptor cell line (HEK-MOR); Homogeneous Time-Resolved Fluorescence (HTRF)
Background: The large and increasing number of chemicals released into the environment demands more efficient and cost-effective approaches for assessing environmental chemical toxicity. The U.S. Tox21 program has responded to this challenge by proposing alternative strategies for toxicity testing, among which the quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) paradigm has been adopted as the primary tool for generating data from screening large chemical libraries using a wide spectrum of assays.
Objectives: The goal of this study was to develop methods to evaluate the data generated from these assays to guide future assay selection and prioritization for the Tox21 program.
Methods: We examined the data from the Tox21 pilot-phase collection of approximately 3,000 environmental chemicals profiled in qHTS format against a panel of 10 human nuclear receptors (AR, ERα, FXR, GR, LXRβ, PPARγ, PPARδ, RXRα, TRβ, and VDR) for reproducibility, concordance of biological activity profiles with sequence homology of the receptor ligand binding domains, and structure–activity relationships.
Results: We determined the assays to be appropriate in terms of biological relevance. We found better concordance for replicate compounds for the agonist-mode than for the antagonist-mode assays, likely due to interference of cytotoxicity in the latter assays. This exercise also enabled us to formulate data-driven strategies for discriminating true signals from artifacts, and to prioritize assays based on data quality.
Conclusions: The results demonstrate the feasibility of qHTS to identify the potential for environmentally relevant chemicals to interact with key toxicity pathways related to human disease induction.
assay performance; chemical genomics; cytotoxicity; nuclear receptors; qHTS; Tox21
Tumor Necrosis Factor-α (TNF-α), a secreted cytokine, plays an important role in inflammatory diseases and immune disorders, and is a potential target for drug development. The traditional assays for detecting TNF-α, enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and radioimmunoassay, are not suitable for the large size compound screens. Both assays suffer from a complicated protocol, multiple plate wash steps and/or excessive radioactive waste. A simple and quick measurement of TNF-α production in a cell based assay is needed for high throughput screening to identify the lead compounds from the compound library. We have developed and optimized two homogeneous TNF-α assays using the HTRF (homogeneous time resolved fluorescence) and AlphaLISA assay formats. We have validated the HTRF based TNF-α assay in a 1536-well plate format by screening a library of 1280 pharmacologically active compounds. The active compounds identified from the screen were confirmed in the AlphaLISA TNF-α assay using a bead-based technology. These compounds were also confirmed in a traditional ELISA assay. From this study, several beta adrenergic agonists have been identified as TNF-α inhibitors. We also identified several novel inhibitors of TNF-α, such as BTO-1, CCG-2046, ellipticine, and PD 169316. The results demonstrated that both homogeneous TNF-α assays are robust and suitable for high throughput screening.
AlphaLISA technology; HTRF technology; inhibition of TNF-α production; qHTS; TNF-α; 1536-well plate.
Nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) is a transcription factor that plays a critical role across many cellular processes including embryonic and neuronal development, cell proliferation, apoptosis, immune responses to infection, and inflammation. Dysregulation of NF-κB signaling is associated with inflammatory diseases and certain cancers. Constitutive activation of NF-κB signaling has been found in some types of tumors including breast, colon, prostate, skin and lymphoid, hence therapeutic blockade of NF-κB signaling in cancer cells provides an attractive strategy for the development of anticancer drugs. To identify small molecule inhibitors of NF-κB signaling, we screened approximately 2,800 clinically approved drugs and bioactive compounds from the NIH Chemical Genomics Center Pharmaceutical Collection (NPC) in a NF-κB mediated β-lactamase reporter gene assay. Each compound was tested at fifteen different concentrations in a quantitative high throughput screening format. We identified nineteen drugs that inhibited NF-κB signaling, with potencies as low as 20 nM. Many of these drugs, including emetine, fluorosalan, sunitinib malate, bithionol, narasin, tribromsalan, and lestaurtinib, inhibited NF-κB signaling via inhibition of IκBα phosphorylation. Others, such as ectinascidin 743, chromomycin A3 and bortezomib utilized other mechanisms. Furthermore, many of these drugs induced caspase 3/7 activity and had an inhibitory effect on cervical cancer cell growth. Our results indicate that many currently approved pharmaceuticals have previously unappreciated effects on NF-κB signaling, which may contribute to anticancer therapeutic effects. Comprehensive profiling of approved drugs provides insight into their molecular mechanisms, thus providing a basis for drug repurposing.
caspase 3/7; cervical cancer; IκBα phosphorylation; NCGC Pharmaceutical Collection; NF-κB signaling
In support of the U.S. Tox21 program, we have developed a simple and chemically intuitive model we call weighted feature significance (WFS) to predict the toxicological activity of compounds, based on the statistical enrichment of structural features in toxic compounds. We trained and tested the model on the following: (1) data from quantitative high–throughput screening cytotoxicity and caspase activation assays conducted at the National Institutes of Health Chemical Genomics Center, (2) data from Salmonella typhimurium reverse mutagenicity assays conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, and (3) hepatotoxicity data published in the Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances. Enrichments of structural features in toxic compounds are evaluated for their statistical significance and compiled into a simple additive model of toxicity and then used to score new compounds for potential toxicity. The predictive power of the model for cytotoxicity was validated using an independent set of compounds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tested also at the National Institutes of Health Chemical Genomics Center. We compared the performance of our WFS approach with classical classification methods such as Naive Bayesian clustering and support vector machines. In most test cases, WFS showed similar or slightly better predictive power, especially in the prediction of hepatotoxic compounds, where WFS appeared to have the best performance among the three methods. The new algorithm has the important advantages of simplicity, power, interpretability, and ease of implementation.
modeling; toxicity prediction; structural features; cell viability; caspase-3,7 activation; in vivo toxicity
The NIH Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC) was the inaugural center of the Molecular Libraries and Screening Center Network (MLSCN). Along with the nine other research centers of the MLSCN, the NCGC was established with a primary goal of bringing industrial technology and experience to empower the scientific community with small molecule compounds for use in their research. We intend this review to serve as 1) an introduction to the NCGC standard operating procedures, 2) an overview of several of the lessons learned during the pilot phase and 3) a review of several of the innovative discoveries reported during the pilot phase of the MLSCN.
Long QT syndrome, either inherited or acquired from drug treatments, can result in ventricular arrhythmia (torsade de pointes) and sudden death. Human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG) channel inhibition by drugs is now recognized as a common reason for the acquired form of long QT syndrome. It has been reported that more than 100 known drugs inhibit the activity of the hERG channel. Since 1997, several drugs have been withdrawn from the market due to the long QT syndrome caused by hERG inhibition. Food and Drug Administration regulations now require safety data on hERG channels for investigative new drug (IND) applications. The assessment of compound activity on the hERG channel has now become an important part of the safety evaluation in the process of drug discovery. During the past decade, several in vitro assay methods have been developed and significant resources have been used to characterize hERG channel activities. However, evaluation of compound activities on hERG have not been performed for large compound collections due to technical difficulty, lack of throughput, and/or lack of biological relevance to function. Here we report a modified form of the FluxOR thallium flux assay, capable of measuring hERG activity in a homogeneous 1536-well plate format. To validate the assay, we screened a 7-point dilution series of the LOPAC 1280 library collection and reported rank order potencies of ten common hERG inhibitors. A correlation was also observed for the hERG channel activities of 10 known hERG inhibitors determined in this thallium flux assay and in the patch clamp experiment. Our findings indicate that this thallium flux assay can be used as an alternative method to profile large-volume compound libraries for compound activity on the hERG channel.
Human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG); Quantitative high-throughput screening; (qHTS); FluxOR; Thallium flux; Baculovirus; BacMam
Cellular metabolism depends on the availability of oxygen and the major regulator of oxygen homeostasis is hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1), a highly conserved transcription factor that plays an essential role in cellular and systemic homeostatic responses to hypoxia. HIF-1 is a heterodimeric transcription factor composed of hypoxia-inducible HIF-1α and constitutively expressed HIF-1β. Under hypoxic conditions, the two subunits dimerize, allowing translocation of the HIF-1 complex to the nucleus where it binds to hypoxia-response elements (HREs) and activates expression of target genes implicated in angiogenesis, cell growth, and survival. The HIF-1 pathway is essential to normal growth and development, and is involved in the pathophysiology of cancer, inflammation, and ischemia. Thus, there is considerable interest in identifying compounds that modulate the HIF-1 signaling pathway. To assess the ability of environmental chemicals to stimulate the HIF-1 signaling pathway, we screened a National Toxicology Program collection of 1408 compounds using a cell-based β-lactamase HRE reporter gene assay in a quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) format. Twelve active compounds were identified. These compounds were tested in a confirmatory assay for induction of vascular endothelial growth factor, a known hypoxia target gene, and confirmed compounds were further tested for their ability to mimic the effect of a reduced-oxygen environment on hypoxia-regulated promoter activity. Based on this testing strategy, three compounds (o-phenanthroline, iodochlorohydroxyquinoline, cobalt sulfate heptahydrate) were confirmed as hypoxia mimetics, whereas two compounds (7-diethylamino-4-methylcoumarin and 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracence) were found to interact with HIF-1 in a manner different from hypoxia. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of qHTS in combination with secondary assays for identification of HIF-1α inducers and for distinguishing among inducers based on their pattern of activated hypoxic target genes. Identification of environmental compounds having HIF-1α activation activity in cell-based assays may be useful for prioritizing chemicals for further testing as hypoxia-response inducers in vivo.
cobalt sulfate heptahydrate; 7-diethylamino-4-methylcoumarin; 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracence; HIF-1α; inducers; iodochlorohydroxyquinoline; NTP 1408 compound library; o-phenanthroline; qHTS
We describe a novel algorithm, Grid algorithm, and the corresponding computer program for high throughput fitting of dose-response curves that are described by the four-parameter symmetric logistic dose-response model. The Grid algorithm searches through all points in a grid of four dimensions (parameters) and finds the optimum one that corresponds to the best fit. Using simulated dose-response curves, we examined the Grid program’s performance in reproducing the actual values that were used to generate the simulated data and compared it with the DRC package for the language and environment R and the XLfit add-in for Microsoft Excel. The Grid program was robust and consistently recovered the actual values for both complete and partial curves with or without noise. Both DRC and XLfit performed well on data without noise, but they were sensitive to and their performance degraded rapidly with increasing noise. The Grid program is automated and scalable to millions of dose-response curves, and it is able to process 100,000 dose-response curves from high throughput screening experiment per CPU hour. The Grid program has the potential of greatly increasing the productivity of large-scale dose-response data analysis and early drug discovery processes, and it is also applicable to many other curve fitting problems in chemical, biological, and medical sciences.
Curve fitting; Hill equation; Grid algorithm; Dose-response curve; High throughput screening.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has led to the use of >1 M gallons of oil spill dispersants, which are mixtures of surfactants and solvents. Because of this large scale use there is a critical need to understand the potential for toxicity of the currently used dispersant and potential alternatives, especially given the limited toxicity testing information that is available. In particular, some dispersants contain nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), which can degrade to nonylphenol (NP), a known endocrine disruptor. Given the urgent need to generate toxicity data, we carried out a series of in vitro high-throughput assays on eight commercial dispersants. These assays focused on the estrogen and androgen receptors (ER and AR), but also included a larger battery of assays probing other biological pathways. Cytotoxicity in mammalian cells was also quantified. No activity was seen in any AR assay. Two dispersants showed a weak ER signal in one assay (EC50 of 16 ppm for Nokomis 3-F4 and 25 ppm for ZI-400). NPs and NPEs also had a weak signal in this same ER assay. Note that Corexit 9500, the currently used product, does not contain NPEs and did not show any ER activity. Cytotoxicity values for six of the dispersants were statistically indistinguishable, with median LC50 values ∼100 ppm. Two dispersants, JD 2000, SAF-RON GOLD, were significantly less cytotoxic than the others with LC50 values approaching or exceeding 1000 ppm.
Inclusions comprised of fibrils of the microtubule (MT)-associated protein tau are found in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative tauopathies. The pathology that is observed in these diseases is believed to result from the formation of toxic tau oligomers or fibrils, and/or from the loss of normal tau function due to its sequestration into insoluble deposits. Hence, small molecules that prevent tau oligomerization and/or fibrillization might have therapeutic value. Indeed, examples of such compounds have been published but nearly all have properties that render them unsuitable as drug candidates. For these reasons, we conducted quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) of ~292,000 compounds to identify drug-like inhibitors of tau assembly. The fibrillization of a truncated tau fragment that contains four MT-binding domains was monitored in an assay that employed complementary thioflavine T fluorescence and fluorescence polarization methods. Previously described classes of inhibitors as well as new scaffolds were identified, including novel aminothienopyridazines (ATPZ’s). A number of ATPZ analogs were synthesized and structure-activity relationships were defined. Further characterization of representative ATPZ compounds showed they do not interfere with tau-mediated MT assembly, and they are significantly more effective at preventing the fibrillization of tau than the Aβ(1–42) peptide which forms AD senile plaques. Thus, the ATPZ molecules described here represent a novel class of tau assembly inhibitors that merit further development for testing in animal models of AD-like tau pathology.
Small molecule modulators are critical for dissecting and understanding signaling pathways at the molecular level. Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is a cytokine that signals via the JAK/STAT pathway and is implicated in cancer and inflammation. To identify modulators of this pathway, we screened a chemical collection against an IL-6 responsive cell line stably expressing a beta-lactamase reporter gene fused to a sis-inducible element (SIE-bla cells). This assay was optimized for a 1536-well microplate format and screened against 11,693 small molecules using quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS), a method that assays a chemical library at multiple concentrations to generate titration-response profiles for each compound. The qHTS recovered 564 actives with well-fit curves that clustered into 32 distinct chemical series of 13 activators and 19 inhibitors. A retrospective analysis of the qHTS data indicated that single concentration data at 1.5 and 7.7 uM scored 35 and 71% of qHTS actives, respectively, as inactive and were therefore false negatives. Following counter screens to identify fluorescent and nonselective series, we found four activator and one inhibitor series that modulated SIE-bla cells but did not show similar activity in reporter gene assays induced by EGF and hypoxia. Small molecules within these series will make useful tool compounds to investigate IL-6 signaling mediated by JAK/STAT activation.
IL-6; small molecule; HTS; STAT; assay