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1.  Activation of fast skeletal muscle troponin as a potential therapeutic approach for treating neuromuscular diseases 
Nature medicine  2012;18(3):452-455.
Limited neuromuscular input results in muscle weakness in neuromuscular disease either because of a reduction in the density of muscle innervation, the rate of neuromuscular junction activation or the efficiency of synaptic transmission1. We developed a small molecule fast skeletal troponin activator, CK-2017357, as a means to increase muscle strength by amplifying the response of muscle when neuromuscular input is diminished secondary to a neuromuscular disease. Binding selectively to the fast skeletal troponin complex, CK-2017357 slows the rate of calcium release from troponin C and sensitizes muscle to calcium. As a consequence, the force-calcium relationship of muscle fibers shifts leftwards as does the force-frequency relationship of a nerve-muscle pair. In vitro and in vivo, CK-2017357 increases the production of force at sub-maximal stimulation rates. Importantly, we show that sensitization of the fast skeletal troponin complex to calcium improves muscle force and grip strength immediately after single doses of CK-2017357 in a model of neuromuscular disease, myasthenia gravis. Troponin activation may provide a new therapeutic approach to improve physical activity in diseases where neuromuscular function is compromised.
PMCID: PMC3296825  PMID: 22344294
2.  Smooth Muscle Myosin Inhibition: A Novel Therapeutic Approach for Pulmonary Hypertension 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36302.
Pulmonary hypertension remains a major clinical problem despite current therapies. In this study, we examine for the first time a novel pharmacological target, smooth muscle myosin, and determine if the smooth muscle myosin inhibitor, CK-2019165 (CK-165) ameliorates pulmonary hypertension.
Materials and Methods
Six domestic female pigs were surgically instrumented to measure pulmonary blood flow and systemic and pulmonary vascular dynamics. Pulmonary hypertension was induced by hypoxia, or infusion of the thromboxane analog (U-46619, 0.1 µg/kg/min, i.v.). In rats, chronic pulmonary hypertension was induced by monocrotaline.
CK-165 (4 mg/kg, i.v.) reduced pulmonary vascular resistance by 22±3 and 28±6% from baseline in hypoxia and thromboxane pig models, respectively (p<0.01 and 0.01), while mean arterial pressure also fell and heart rate rose slightly. When CK-165 was delivered via inhalation in the hypoxia model, pulmonary vascular resistance fell by 17±6% (p<0.05) while mean arterial pressure and heart rate were unchanged. In the monocrotaline model of chronic pulmonary hypertension, inhaled CK-165 resulted in a similar (18.0±3.8%) reduction in right ventricular systolic pressure as compared with sildenafil (20.3±4.5%).
Inhibition of smooth muscle myosin may be a novel therapeutic target for treatment of pulmonary hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3341368  PMID: 22563487
3.  Effective killing of the human pathogen Candida albicans by a specific inhibitor of non-essential mitotic kinesin Kip1p 
Molecular Microbiology  2007;65(2):347-362.
Kinesins from the bipolar (Kinesin-5) family are conserved in eukaryotic organisms and play critical roles during the earliest stages of mitosis to mediate spindle pole body separation and formation of a bipolar mitotic spindle. To date, genes encoding bipolar kinesins have been reported to be essential in all organisms studied. We report the characterization of CaKip1p, the sole member of this family in the human pathogenic yeast Candida albicans. C. albicans Kip1p appears to localize to the mitotic spindle and loss of CaKip1p function interferes with normal progression through mitosis. Inducible excision of CaKIP1 revealed phenotypes unique to C. albicans, including viable homozygous Cakip1 mutants and an aberrant spindle morphology in which multiple spindle poles accumulate in close proximity to each other. Expression of the C. albicans Kip1 motor domain in Escherichia coli produced a protein with microtubule-stimulated ATPase activity that was inhibited by an aminobenzothiazole (ABT) compound in an ATP-competitive fashion. This inhibition results in ‘rigor-like’, tight association with microtubules in vitro. Upon treatment of C. albicans cells with the ABT compound, cells were killed, and terminal phenotype analysis revealed an aberrant spindle morphology similar to that induced by loss of the CaKIP1 gene. The ABT compound discovered is the first example of a fungal spindle inhibitor targeted to a mitotic kinesin. Our results also show that the non-essential nature and implementation of the bipolar motor in C. albicans differs from that seen in other organisms, and suggest that inhibitors of a non-essential mitotic kinesin may offer promise as cidal agents for antifungal drug discovery.
PMCID: PMC1976386  PMID: 17573815

Results 1-3 (3)