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1.  Stereo-controlled Synthesis of Novel Photoreactive γ-Secretase Inhibitors 
The stereoselective synthesis of novel photoreactive γ-secretase inhibitors 2 and 3 has been achieved. Key steps of the strategy involve preparation of α-N-Boc-epoxide 8 and formation of lactone 14 in a practical and stereo-controlled fashion. Compounds 2 and 3 are potent γ-secretase inhibitors and directly interact with presenilin-1, a catalytic subunit of γ-secretase.
PMCID: PMC3254698  PMID: 19097779
2.  Gamma-Secretase Inhibitors Abrogate Oxaliplatin-Induced Activation of the Notch-1 Signaling Pathway in Colon Cancer Cells Resulting in Enhanced Chemosensitivity 
Cancer research  2009;69(2):573-582.
Because Notch signaling is implicated in colon cancer tumorigenesis and protects from apoptosis by inducing pro-survival targets, it was hypothesized that inhibition of Notch signaling with gamma-secretase inhibitors (GSIs) may enhance the chemosensitivity of colon cancer cells. We first show that the Notch-1 receptor and its downstream target Hes-1 is upregulated with colon cancer progression, similar to other genes involved in chemoresistance. We then report that chemotherapy induces Notch-1, as oxaliplatin, fluorouracil (5-FU), or SN-38 (the active metabolite of irinotecan), induced Notch-1 Intracellular Domain (NICD) protein and activated Hes-1. Induction of NICD was caused by an increase in the gamma-secretase protein subunits, nicastrin and presenilin-1, as suppression of nicastrin with small interfering RNA (siRNA) prevented NICD induction after oxaliplatin. Subsequent, inhibition of Notch-1 signaling with a sulfonamide GSI (GSI34) prevented the induction of NICD by chemotherapy and blunted Hes-1 activation. Blocking the activation of Notch signaling with GSI34 sensitized cells to chemotherapy and was synergistic with oxaliplatin, 5-FU, and SN-38. This chemosensitization was mediated by Notch-1, as inhibition of Notch-1 with siRNA, enhanced chemosensitivity whereas overexpression of NICD increased chemoresistance. Downregulation of Notch signaling also prevented the induction of pro-survival pathways, most notably PI3K/Akt, after oxaliplatin. In summary, colon cancer cells may upregulate Notch-1 as a protective mechanism in response to chemotherapy. Therefore, combining GSIs with chemotherapy may represent a novel approach for treating metastatic colon cancers by mitigating the development of chemoresistance.
PMCID: PMC3242515  PMID: 19147571
Notch; oxaliplatin; colon; chemosensitivity; Akt
3.  A Miniaturized 1536-Well Format γ-Secretase Assay 
γ-Secretase is an aspartyl protease that cleaves multiple substrates including the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and the Notch proteins. Abnormal proteolysis of APP is involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and overactive Notch signaling plays an oncogenic role in a variety of cancers. γ-Secretase has emerged as a promising target for drug development in the treatment of AD and cancer. Assays with increased capacity for high-throughput screening would allow for quicker screening of chemical libraries and facilitate inhibitor development. We have developed a homogeneous time-resolved fluorescence (HTRF)-based assay that makes use of a novel biotinylated recombinant APP substrate and solubilized membrane preparation as the source of the γ-secretase enzyme. The assay was miniaturized to a 1536-well format and validated in a pilot screen against a library of ∼3,000 compounds. The overall assay performance was robust due to a calculated Z′ factor of 0.74 and its demonstrated ability to identify known γ-secretase inhibitors such as pepstatin A. This validated assay can readily be used for primary screening against large chemical libraries searching for novel inhibitors of γ-secretase activity that may represent potential therapeutics for AD and a variety of neoplasms.
PMCID: PMC3096545  PMID: 19715456
4.  An exo-cell assay for examining real-time γ-secretase activity and inhibition 
γ-Secretase is an aspartyl protease that cleaves multiple substrates that are involved in broad biological processes ranging from stem cell development to neurodegeneration. The investigation of γ-secretase has been limited by currently available assays that require genetic or biochemical manipulation in the form of substrate transfection or membrane preparation. Here we report an exo-cell assay that is capable of characterizing γ-secretase activity in any cellular system without limitation. Using a highly active, recombinant substrate this assay can quickly and easily ascertain the status of γ-secretase activity in cell systems and patient samples. We have applied this method to determine the activity of γ-secretase in primary cell samples where transfection and/or membrane isolation are not viable options. Importantly, it allows for the detection of real time γ-secretase activity after inhibitor or drug treatment. The application of this assay to determine the role of γ-secretase in physiological and pathological conditions will greatly facilitate our characterization of this complex protease and help in the development and evaluation of γ-secretase-targeted therapies in Alzheimer's disease or a variety of neoplasms.
PMCID: PMC3224971  PMID: 19490610

Results 1-4 (4)