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author:("printed, John")
1.  A Quantitative High-Throughput Screen for Modulators of IL-6 Signaling: A Model for Interrogating Biological Networks using Chemical Libraries 
Molecular bioSystems  2009;5(9):1039-1050.
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.
PMCID: PMC2747079  PMID: 19668870
IL-6; small molecule; HTS; STAT; assay
2.  Identification of Pregnane X Receptor Ligands Using Time-Resolved Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer and Quantitative High-Throughput Screening 
The human pregnane X nuclear receptor (PXR) is a xenobiotic-regulated receptor that is activated by a range of diverse chemicals, including antibiotics, antifungals, glucocorticoids, and herbal extracts. PXR has been characterized as an important receptor in the metabolism of xenobiotics due to induction of cytochrome P450 isozymes and activation by a large number of prescribed medications. Developing methodologies that can efficiently detect PXR ligands will be clinically beneficial to avoid potential drug–drug interactions. To facilitate the identification of PXR ligands, a time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET) assay was miniaturized to a 1,536-well microtiter plate format to employ quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS). The optimized 1,536-well TR-FRET assay showed Z′-factors of ≥0.5. Seven- to 15-point concentration–response curves (CRCs) were generated for 8,280 compounds using both terbium and fluorescein emission data, resulting in the generation of 241,664 data points. The qHTS method allowed us to retrospectively examine single concentration screening datasets to assess the sensitivity and selectivity of the PXR assay at different compound screening concentrations. Furthermore, nonspecific assay artifacts such as concentration-based quenching of the terbium signal and compound fluorescence were identified through the examination of CRCs for specific emission channels. The CRC information was also used to define chemotypes associated with PXR ligands. This study demonstrates the feasibility of profiling thousands of compounds against PXR using the TR-FRET assay in a high-throughput format.
PMCID: PMC3116688  PMID: 19505231
3.  Identification of small molecule compounds that inhibit the HIF-1 signaling pathway 
Molecular Cancer  2009;8:117.
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is the major hypoxia-regulated transcription factor that regulates cellular responses to low oxygen environments. HIF-1 is composed of two subunits: hypoxia-inducible HIF-1α and constitutively-expressed HIF-1β. During hypoxic conditions, HIF-1α heterodimerizes with HIF-1β and translocates to the nucleus where the HIF-1 complex binds to the hypoxia-response element (HRE) and activates expression of target genes implicated in cell growth and survival. HIF-1α protein expression is elevated in many solid tumors, including those of the cervix and brain, where cells that are the greatest distance from blood vessels, and therefore the most hypoxic, express the highest levels of HIF-1α. Therapeutic blockade of the HIF-1 signaling pathway in cancer cells therefore provides an attractive strategy for development of anticancer drugs. To identify small molecule inhibitors of the HIF-1 pathway, we have developed a cell-based reporter gene assay and screened a large compound library by using a quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) approach.
The assay is based upon a β-lactamase reporter under the control of a HRE. We have screened approximate 73,000 compounds by qHTS, with each compound tested over a range of seven to fifteen concentrations. After qHTS we have rapidly identified three novel structural series of HIF-1 pathway Inhibitors. Selected compounds in these series were also confirmed as inhibitors in a HRE β-lactamase reporter gene assay induced by low oxygen and in a VEGF secretion assay. Three of the four selected compounds tested showed significant inhibition of hypoxia-induced HIF-1α accumulation by western blot analysis.
The use of β-lactamase reporter gene assays, in combination with qHTS, enabled the rapid identification and prioritization of inhibitors specific to the hypoxia induced signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC2797767  PMID: 20003191
4.  DcpS as a Therapeutic Target for Spinal Muscular Atrophy 
ACS chemical biology  2008;3(11):711-722.
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is caused by deletion or mutation of both copies of the SMN1 gene which produces an essential protein known as SMN. The severity of SMA is modified by variable copy number of a second gene, SMN2 that produces an mRNA that is incorrectly spliced with deletion of the last exon. We described previously the discovery of potent C5-substituted quinazolines that increase SMN2 gene expression by two-fold. Discovery of potent SMN2 promoter inducers relied on a cellular assay without knowledge of the molecular target. Using protein microarray scanning with a radiolabeled C5-quinazoline probe, we identified the scavenger decapping enzyme, DcpS as a potential binder. We show that the C5-quinazolines potently inhibit DcpS decapping activity, and that the potency of inhibition correlates with potency for SMN2 promoter induction. Binding of C5-quinazolines to DcpS holds the enzyme in an open, catalytically incompetent conformation. DcpS is a nuclear shuttling protein that binds and hydrolyzes the m7GpppN mRNA cap structure and a modulator of RNA metabolism. Therefore DcpS represents a novel therapeutic target for modulating gene expression by a small molecule.
PMCID: PMC2646632  PMID: 18839960
5.  PTG gene deletion causes impaired glycogen synthesis and developmental insulin resistance 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2003;111(9):1423-1432.
Protein targeting to glycogen (PTG) is a scaffolding protein that targets protein phosphatase 1α (PP1α) to glycogen, and links it to enzymes involved in glycogen synthesis and degradation. We generated mice that possess a heterozygous deletion of the PTG gene. These mice have reduced glycogen stores in adipose tissue, liver, heart, and skeletal muscle, corresponding with decreased glycogen synthase activity and glycogen synthesis rate. Although young PTG heterozygous mice initially demonstrate normal glucose tolerance, progressive glucose intolerance, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance develop with aging. Insulin resistance in older PTG heterozygous mice correlates with a significant increase in muscle triglyceride content, with a corresponding attenuation of insulin receptor signaling. These data suggest that PTG plays a critical role in glycogen synthesis and is necessary to maintain the appropriate metabolic balance for the partitioning of fuel substrates between glycogen and lipid.
PMCID: PMC154451  PMID: 12727934
6.  Identification of a Novel Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinase Activation Domain Recognized by the Inhibitor PD 184352 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2002;22(21):7593-7602.
Utilizing a genetic screen in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we identified a novel autoactivation region in mammalian MEK1 that is involved in binding the specific MEK inhibitor, PD 184352. The genetic screen is possible due to the homology between components of the yeast pheromone response pathway and the eukaryotic Raf-MEK-ERK signaling cascade. Using the FUS1::HIS3 reporter as a functional readout for activation of a reconstituted Raf-MEK-ERK signaling cascade, randomly mutagenized MEK variants that were insensitive to PD 184352 were obtained. Seven single-base-change mutations were identified, five of which mapped to kinase subdomains III and IV of MEK. Of the seven variants, only one, a leucine-to-proline substitution at amino acid 115 (Leu115Pro), was completely insensitive to PD 184352 in vitro (50% inhibitory concentration >10 μM). However, all seven mutants displayed strikingly high basal activity compared to wild-type MEK. Overexpression of the MEK variants in HEK293T cells resulted in an increase in mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase phosphorylation, a finding consistent with the elevated basal activity of these constructs. Further, treatment with PD 184352 failed to inhibit Leu115Pro-stimulated MAP kinase activation in HEK293T cells, whereas all other variants had some reduction in phospho-MAP kinase levels. By using cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase (1CDK) as a template, an MEK homology model was generated, with five of the seven identified residues clustered together, forming a potential hydrophobic binding pocket for PD 184352. Additionally, the model allowed identification of other potential residues that would interact with the inhibitor. Directed mutation of these residues supported this region's involvement with inhibitor binding.
PMCID: PMC135683  PMID: 12370306
7.  A Novel, Multifunctional c-Cbl Binding Protein in Insulin Receptor Signaling in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1998;18(2):872-879.
The protein product of the c-Cbl proto-oncogene is prominently tyrosine phosphorylated in response to insulin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and not in 3T3-L1 fibroblasts. After insulin-dependent tyrosine phosphorylation, c-Cbl specifically associates with endogenous c-Crk and Fyn. These results suggest a role for tyrosine-phosphorylated c-Cbl in 3T3-L1 adipocyte activation by insulin. A yeast two-hybrid cDNA library prepared from fully differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes was screened with full-length c-Cbl as the target protein in an attempt to identify adipose-specific signaling proteins that interact with c-Cbl and potentially are involved in its tyrosine phosphorylation in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Here we describe the isolation and the characterization of a novel protein that we termed CAP for c-Cbl-associated protein. CAP contains a unique structure with three adjacent Src homology 3 (SH3) domains in the C terminus and a region showing significant sequence similarity with the peptide hormone sorbin. Both CAP mRNA and proteins are expressed predominately in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and not in 3T3-L1 fibroblasts. CAP associates with c-Cbl in 3T3-L1 adipocytes independently of insulin stimulation in vivo and in vitro in an SH3-domain-mediated manner. Furthermore, we detected the association of CAP with the insulin receptor. Insulin stimulation resulted in the dissociation of CAP from the insulin receptor. Taken together, these data suggest that CAP represents a novel c-Cbl binding protein in 3T3-L1 adipocytes likely to participate in insulin signaling.
PMCID: PMC108798  PMID: 9447983

Results 1-7 (7)