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1.  High-Affinity Small-Molecule Inhibitors of the Menin-Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) Interaction Closely Mimic a Natural Protein–Protein Interaction 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(4):1543-1556.
The protein–protein interaction (PPI) between menin and mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) plays a critical role in acute leukemias, and inhibition of this interaction represents a new potential therapeutic strategy for MLL leukemias. We report development of a novel class of small-molecule inhibitors of the menin–MLL interaction, the hydroxy- and aminomethylpiperidine compounds, which originated from HTS of ∼288000 small molecules. We determined menin–inhibitor co-crystal structures and found that these compounds closely mimic all key interactions of MLL with menin. Extensive crystallography studies combined with structure-based design were applied for optimization of these compounds, resulting in MIV-6R, which inhibits the menin–MLL interaction with IC50 = 56 nM. Treatment with MIV-6 demonstrated strong and selective effects in MLL leukemia cells, validating specific mechanism of action. Our studies provide novel and attractive scaffold as a new potential therapeutic approach for MLL leukemias and demonstrate an example of PPI amenable to inhibition by small molecules.
PMCID: PMC3983337  PMID: 24472025
2.  Exploration of Allosteric Agonism Structure-Activity Relationships within an Acetylene Series of Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 5 (mGlu5) Positive Allosteric Modulators (PAMs): discovery of 5-((3-fluorophenyl)ethynyl)-N-(3-methyloxetan-3-yl)picolinamide (ML254) 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2013;56(20):7976-7996.
Positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGlu5) represent a promising therapeutic strategy for the treatment of schizophrenia. Both allosteric agonism and high glutamate fold-shift have been implicated in the neurotoxic profile of some mGlu5 PAMs; however, these hypotheses remain to be adequately addressed. To develop tool compounds to probe these hypotheses, the structure-activity relationship of allosteric agonism was examined within an acetylenic series of mGlu5 PAMs exhibiting allosteric agonism in addition to positive allosteric modulation (ago-PAMs). PAM 38t, a low glutamate fold-shift allosteric ligand (maximum fold-shift ~3.0), was selected as a potent PAM with no agonism in the in vitro system used for compound characterization and in two native electrophysiological systems using rat hippocampal slices. PAM 38t (ML254) will be useful to probe the relative contribution of cooperativity and allosteric agonism to the adverse effect liability and neurotoxicity associated with this class of mGlu5 PAMs.
PMCID: PMC3908770  PMID: 24050755
3.  Unique signaling profiles of positive allosteric modulators of metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 determine differences in in vivo activity 
Biological psychiatry  2012;73(6):501-509.
Metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 (mGlu5) activators have emerged as a novel approach to the treatment of schizophrenia. Positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of mGlu5 have generated tremendous excitement and fueled major drug discovery efforts. Although mGlu5 PAMs have robust efficacy in preclinical models of schizophrenia, preliminary reports suggest that these compounds may induce seizure activity. Prototypical mGlu5 PAMs do not activate mGlu5 directly but selectively potentiate activation of mGlu5 by glutamate. This mechanism may be critical to maintaining normal activity-dependence of mGlu5 activation and achieving optimal in vivo effects.
Using specially engineered mGlu5 cell lines incorporating point mutations within the allosteric and orthosteric binding sites, as well as brain slice electrophysiology and in vivo electroencephalography and behavioral pharmacology, we found that some mGlu5 PAMs have intrinsic allosteric agonist activity in the absence of glutamate.
Both in vitro mutagenesis and in vivo pharmacology studies demonstrate that VU0422465 is an agonist PAM that induces epileptiform activity and behavioral convulsions in rodents. In contrast, VU0361747, an mGlu5 PAMs optimized to eliminate allosteric agonist activity, has robust in vivo efficacy and does not induce adverse effects at doses that yield high brain concentrations.
Loss of the absolute dependence of mGlu5 PAMs on glutamate release for their activity can lead to severe adverse effects. The finding that closely related mGlu5 PAMs can differ in their intrinsic agonist activity provides critical new insights that is essential for advancing these molecules through clinical development for treatment of schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC3572342  PMID: 23140665
Glutamate; allosteric modulators; agonist; schizophrenia; seizure; convulsions; mGlu5
4.  Eliciting Renal Failure in Mosquitoes with a Small-Molecule Inhibitor of Inward-Rectifying Potassium Channels 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64905.
Mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever take a large toll on global health. The primary chemical agents used for controlling mosquitoes are insecticides that target the nervous system. However, the emergence of resistance in mosquito populations is reducing the efficacy of available insecticides. The development of new insecticides is therefore urgent. Here we show that VU573, a small-molecule inhibitor of mammalian inward-rectifying potassium (Kir) channels, inhibits a Kir channel cloned from the renal (Malpighian) tubules of Aedes aegypti (AeKir1). Injection of VU573 into the hemolymph of adult female mosquitoes (Ae. aegypti) disrupts the production and excretion of urine in a manner consistent with channel block of AeKir1 and renders the mosquitoes incapacitated (flightless or dead) within 24 hours. Moreover, the toxicity of VU573 in mosquitoes (Ae. aegypti) is exacerbated when hemolymph potassium levels are elevated, suggesting that Kir channels are essential for maintenance of whole-animal potassium homeostasis. Our study demonstrates that renal failure is a promising mechanism of action for killing mosquitoes, and motivates the discovery of selective small-molecule inhibitors of mosquito Kir channels for use as insecticides.
PMCID: PMC3666979  PMID: 23734226
5.  Continued optimization of the MLPCN probe ML071 into highly potent agonists of the hM1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor 
This Letter describes the continued optimization of the MLPCN probe molecule ML071. After introducing numerous cyclic constraints and novel substitutions throughout the parent structure, we produced a number of more highly potent agonists of the M1 mACh receptor. While many novel agonists demonstrated a promising ability to increase soluble APPα release, further characterization indicated they may be functioning as bitopic agonists. These results and the implications of a bitopic mode of action are presented.
PMCID: PMC3348459  PMID: 22507963
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor 1; M1; Allosteric; Agonist; Bitopic; ML071; VU0364572
6.  Discovery, Synthesis, SAR Development of a Series of N-4-(2,5-dioxopyrrolidin-1-yl)-phenylpicolinamides (VU0400195, ML182): Characterization of a Novel Positive Allosteric Modulator of the Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 4 (mGlu4) with Oral Efficacy in an anti-Parkinsonian Animal Model 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(21):7639-7647.
There is an increasing amount of literature data showing the positive effects on preclinical anti-Parkinsonian rodent models with selective positive allosteric modulators of metabotropic glutamate receptor 4 (mGlu4).1 However, most of the data generated utilize compounds that have not been optimized for drug-like properties and, as a consequence, they exhibit poor pharmacokinetic properties and thus do not cross the blood-brain barrier. Herein, we report on a series of N-4-(2,5-dioxopyrrolidin-1-yl)-phenylpicolinamides with improved PK properties with excellent potency and selectivity as well as improved brain exposure in rodents. Finally, ML182 was shown to be orally active in the haloperidol induced catalepsy model, a well-established anti-Parkinsonian model.
PMCID: PMC3226828  PMID: 21966889
metabotropic glutamate receptors; mGlu4; positive allosteric modulators; Parkinson’s disease; haloperidol-induced catalepsy; structure-activity relationship (SAR); oral efficacy; brain penetration

Results 1-6 (6)