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2.  Structurally related nucleotides as selective agonists and antagonists at P2Y1 receptors 
The P2Y1 receptor responds to adenine nucleotides and is present in platelets, heart, smooth muscles prostate, ovary, and brain. A selective antagonist may be useful as an antithrombotic agent. We have analyzed the binding site of this G protein-coupled receptor using ligand design, site-directed mutagenesis, and homology modeling based on rhodopsin. We have designed and synthesized a series of deoxyadenosine 3′,5′-bisphosphate derivatives that act as antagonists, or, in some cases with small structural changes, as agonists or partial agonists. The 2-position accommodates Cl or thioethers, whereas the N6-position is limited to Me or Et. 2′-Substitution with OH or OMe increases agonist efficacy over 2′-H. Using molecular modeling of the binding site, the oxygen atoms of the ribose moiety were predicted to be non-essential, i.e. no specific H-bonds with the receptor protein appear in the model. We have, therefore, substituted this moiety with carbocylics, smaller and larger rings, conformationally constrained rings, and acyclics, with retention of affinity for the receptor. With simplified pharmacophores we are exploring the steric and electronic requirements of the receptor binding site, and the structural basis of receptor activation.
PMCID: PMC4313380  PMID: 11347970
G protein-coupled receptors; Nucleotides; P2Y1; Molecular modeling
3.  Fluorescent Ligands for Adenosine Receptors 
Interest is increasing in developing fluorescent ligands for characterization of adenosine receptors (ARs), which hold a promise of usefulness in the drug discovery process. The size of a strategically labeled AR ligand can be greatly increased after the attachment of a fluorophore. The choice of dye moiety (e.g. Alexa Fluor 488), attachment point and linker length can alter the selectivity and potency of the parent molecule. Fluorescent derivatives of adenosine agonists and antagonists (e.g. XAC and other heterocyclic antagonist scaffolds) have been synthesized and characterized pharmacologically. Some are useful AR probes for flow cytometry, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, fluorescence microscopy, fluorescence polarization, fluorescence resonance energy transfer, and scanning confocal microscopy. Thus, the approach of fluorescent labeled GPCR ligands, including those for ARs, is a growing dynamic research field.
PMCID: PMC3557833  PMID: 23200243
purine; G protein-coupled receptor; fluorescence; membrane proteins; binding; screening
4.  Implementing the “Best Template Searching” tool into Adenosiland platform 
Adenosine receptors (ARs) belong to the G protein-coupled receptors (GCPRs) family. The recent release of X-ray structures of the human A2A AR (h A2A AR ) in complex with agonists and antagonists has increased the application of structure-based drug design approaches to this class of receptors. Among them, homology modeling represents the method of choice to gather structural information on the other receptor subtypes, namely A1, A2B, and A3 ARs. With the aim of helping users in the selection of either a template to build its own models or ARs homology models publicly available on our platform, we implemented our web-resource dedicated to ARs, Adenosiland, with the “Best Template Searching” facility. This tool is freely accessible at the following web address:
The template suggestions and homology models provided by the “Best Template Searching” tool are guided by the similarity of a query structure (putative or known ARs ligand) with all ligands co-crystallized with hA2A AR subtype. The tool computes several similarity indexes and sort the outcoming results according to the index selected by the user.
We have implemented our web-resource dedicated to ARs Adenosiland with the “Best Template Searching” facility, a tool to guide template and models selection for hARs modelling. The underlying idea of our new facility, that is the selection of a template (or models built upon a template) whose co-crystallized ligand shares the highest similarity with the query structure, can be easily extended to other GPCRs.
PMCID: PMC4230649  PMID: 25505667
G protein-coupled receptors; Adenosine receptors; Receptor modelling; Bioinformatics platform; Adenosiland
5.  Conformational Changes of Congenital FVII Variants with Defective Binding to Tissue Factor ARG304GLN (FVII Padua), ARG 304TRP (FVII Nagoya) and ARG79GLN (FVII Shinjo or Tondabayashi) 
The relation between Factor VII (FVII) and tissue thromboplastin is not completely clarified, yet. Three FVII abnormalities, FVII Padua (Arg304Gln), FVII Nagoya (Arg304Trp) and FVII Shinjo or Tondabayshi (Arg79Gln) show different FVII activity according to the tissue Tissue Factor (TF) used in the assay system (rabbit brain, human placenta or human recombinant and ox brain).
To investigate the possible existence of common conformational changes with regard to different tissue factors in these three FVII variants.
Material and methods:
Crystal structure analysis and “visual inspection” of FVII were deeply performed to select a crystallographic template for the in silico mutagenesis procedure of FVII Arg79Gln, Arg304Gln and Arg304Trp.100ns 300K NVT large-scale molecular dynamics simulation on GPU were applied to the models of FVII. The aims of this run was to describe at molecular level the influence of the mutation on the protein structure and function.
The molecular modelling of those three variants has shown common features in spite of the different location of the mutation involved (the first epidermal growth factor for the Arg79Gln and the catalytic region for the Arg304Gln or Arg304Trp). Molecular dynamics studies have shown in fact that the mutant FVII, shows a decreased flexibility or freezing of the protein conformation of FVIIa with regard to TF. This results in the formation of a defective FVIIa-TF complex that justifies the different clotting results observed in these variants according to the TF used.
The conformational studies may supply useful information on the structure- function relation of clotting factors.
PMCID: PMC3884787  PMID: 24711753
Factor VII deficiency; molecular conformation; Tissue Factor and Thromboplastins
6.  Novel Fluorescent Antagonist as a Molecular Probe in A3 Adenosine Receptor Binding Assays Using Flow Cytometry 
Biochemical Pharmacology  2012;83(11):1552-1561.
The physiological role of the A3 adenosine receptor (AR) was explored in cardiac ischaemia, inflammatory diseases and cancer. We report a new fluorophore-conjugated human (h) A3AR antagonist for application to cell-based assays in ligand discovery and for receptor imaging. Fluorescent pyrazolo[4,3-e][1,2,4]triazolo[1,5-c]pyrimidin-5-ylamine (pyrazolo-triazolo-pyrimidine, PTP) and triazolo[1,5-c]quinazolin-5-yl)amine (triazolo-quinazoline, TQ) AR antagonists were compared. A chain-extended and click-conjugated Alexa Fluor-488 TQ derivative (MRS5449) displayed a radioligand binding Ki value of 6.4 ± 2.5 nM in hA3AR-expressing CHO cell membranes. MRS5449 antagonized hA3AR agonist-induced inhibition of cyclic AMP accumulation in a concentration-dependent manner (KB 4.8 nM). Using flow cytometry (FCM), MRS5449 saturated hA3ARs with very high specific-to-nonspecific binding ratio with an equilibrium binding constant 5.15 nM, comparable to the Kd value of 6.65 nM calculated from kinetic experiments. Ki values of known AR antagonists in inhibition of MRS5449 binding in whole cell FCM were consistent with radioligand binding in membranes, but agonist binding was 5–20 fold weaker than obtained with agonist radioligand [125I]I-AB-MECA. Further binding analysis of MRS5549 suggested multiple agonist binding states of the A3AR. Molecular docking predicted binding modes of these fluorescent antagonists. Thus, MRS5449 is a useful tool for hA3AR characterization.
PMCID: PMC3322254  PMID: 22402302
purines; fluorescence; G protein-coupled receptor; A3 adenosine receptor; flow cytometry
7.  Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of a New Series of 1,2,4-triazolo[1,5-a]-1,3,5-triazines as Human A2A Adenosine Receptor Antagonists with Improved Water Solubility 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(3):877-889.
The structure activity relationship (SAR) of 1,2,4-triazolo[1,5-a]-1,3,5-triazine derivatives related to ZM241385 as antagonists of the A2A adenosine receptor (AR) was explored through the synthesis of analogues substituted at the 5 position. The A2A AR X-ray structure was used to propose a structural basis for the activity and selectivity of the analogues and to direct the synthetic design strategy to provide access to solvent-exposed regions. Thus, we have identified a point of substitution for the attachment of solubilizing groups to enhance both aqueous solubility and physicochemical properties, maintaining potent interactions with the A2A AR and, in some cases, receptor subtype selectivity. Among the most potent and selective novel compounds were a long-chain ether-containing amine congener 20 (Ki 11.5 nM) and its urethane-protected derivative 14 (Ki 17.8 nM). Compounds 20 and 31 (Ki 11.5 and 16.9 nM, respectively) were readily water soluble up to 10 mM. The analogues were docked in the crystallographic structure of the hA2A AR and in a homology model of the hA3 AR, and the per residue electrostatic and hydrophobic contributions to the binding were assessed and stabilizing factors were proposed.
PMCID: PMC3578427  PMID: 21214204
G protein-coupled receptor; purines; molecular modeling; structure activity relationship; radioligand binding; adenylyl cyclase
8.  MG-2477, a new tubulin inhibitor, induces autophagy through inhibition of the Akt/mTOR pathway and delayed apoptosis in A549 cells 
Biochemical pharmacology  2011;83(1):16-26.
We previously demonstrated that MG-2477 (3-cyclopropylmethyl-7-phenyl-3H-pyrrolo[3,2-f]quinolin-9(6H)-one) inhibits the growth of several cancer cell lines in vitro. Here we show that MG-2477 inhibited tubulin polymerization and caused cells to arrest in metaphase. The detailed mechanism of action of MG-2477 was investigated in a non-small cell lung carcinoma cell line (A549). Treatment of A549 cells with MG-2477 caused the cells to arrest in the G2/M phase of the cell cycle, with a concomitant accumulation of cyclin B. Moreover, the compound induced autophagy, which was followed at later times by apoptotic cell death. Autophagy was detected as early as 12 h by the conversion of microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3-I) to LC3-II, following cleavage and lipid addition to LC3-I. After 48 h of MG-2477 exposure, phosphatidylserine externalization on the cell membrane, caspase-3 activation, and PARP cleavage occurred, revealing that apoptotic cell death had begun. Pharmacological inhibition of autophagy with 3-methyladenine or bafilomycin A1 increased apoptotic cell death, suggesting that the autophagy caused by MG-2477 played a protective role and delayed apoptotic cell death. Additional studies revealed that MG-2477 inhibited survival signaling by blocking activation of Akt and its downstream targets, including mTOR, and FHKR. Treatment with MG-2477 also reduced phosphorylation of mTOR downstream targets p70 ribosomal S6 kinase and 4E-BP1. Overexpression of Akt by transfection with a Myr-Akt vector decreased MG-2477 induced autophagy, indicating that Akt is involved. Taken together, these results indicated that the autophagy induced by MG-2477 delayed apoptosis by exerting an adaptive response following microtubule damage.
PMCID: PMC3234688  PMID: 21964343
Autophagy; Apoptosis; Microtubule inhibitors; Cell cycle analysis; Akt/mTOR
9.  Evidence for the Recognition of Non-Nucleotide Antagonists Within the Transmembrane Domains of the Human P2Y1 Receptor 
Drug development research  2003;57(4):173-181.
Site-directed mutagenesis was used to search for amino acid residues of the human P2Y1 receptor involved in the binding of the P2 receptor antagonists pyridoxal-5′-phosphate-6-azophenyl-2,4-disulfonate (PPADS), its analogue 6-(2′-chloro-phenylazo)-pyridoxal-α5-phosphate (MRS 2210), the suramin analogue 8-8′-[carbonylbis(imino-3,1-phenylene)]bis(1,3,5-naphthalene-trisulfonate) (NF023), and Reactive blue 2. Receptors containing single amino acid replacements at positions in transmembrane helical domains (TMs) 3, 5, 6, and 7 critical for the activation of the receptor by nucleotide agonists were expressed in COS-7 (African green monkey kidney) cells. Inositol phosphate accumulation was induced by 2-methylthioadenosine 5′-diphosphate (2-MeSADP). In wild type human P2Y1 receptors, PPADS (10 to 60 µM), MRS 2210 (10 µM), NF023 (100 µM), and Reactive blue 2 (10 µM) shifted the concentration-response curve of 2-MeSADP in a parallel manner to the right. For PPADS, a pA2 value of 5.2 was estimated. The shifts caused by MRS 2210, NF023, and Reactive blue 2 corresponded to apparent pKB values of 5.6, 5.0, and 5.8, respectively. In K280A mutant receptors, the affinities of PPADS, MRS 2210, NF023, and Reactive blue 2 were about 6- to 60-fold lower than those observed at wild type receptors. The K280A mutation also caused an approximately 1,000-fold increase in the EC50 value of the agonist 2-MeSADP, similar to previous observations. In contrast, no major change in antagonistic potency was observed at receptors with other mutations in TMs 3, 5, 6, and 7. Thus, the residue Lys280 (6.55), which is located within the upper third of TM 6 of the human P2Y1 receptor, is not only critical for the activation of the receptor but also plays an important role in the binding of pyridoxal derivatives and a number of other chemically unrelated P2 receptor antagonists. Lys280 seems to belong to an overlapping region of the respective binding sites.
PMCID: PMC3479677  PMID: 23105165
antagonists; G protein-coupled receptors; mutagenesis; phospholipase C; nucleotides
10.  Structure–Activity Relationships and Molecular Modeling of 3,5-Diacyl-2,4-dialkylpyridine Derivatives as Selective A3 Adenosine Receptor Antagonists 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  1998;41(17):3186-3201.
The structure-activity relationships of 6-phenyl-1,4-dihydropyridine derivatives as selective antagonists at human A3 adenosine receptors have been explored (Jiang et al. J. Med. Chem. 1997, 39, 4667-4675). In the present study, related pyridine derivatives have been synthesized and tested for affinity at adenosine receptors in radioligand binding assays. Ki values in the nanomolar range were observed for certain 3,5-diacyl-2,4-dialkyl-6-phenylpyridine derivatives in displacement of [125I]AB-MECA (N6-(4-amino-3-iodobenzyl)-5′-N-methylcarbamoyladenosine) at recombinant human A3 adenosine receptors. Selectivity for A3 adenosine receptors was determined vs radioligand binding at rat brain A1 and A2A receptors. Structure–activity relationships at various positions of the pyridine ring (the 3- and 5-acyl substituents and the 2- and 4-alkyl substituents) were probed. A 4-phenylethynyl group did not enhance A3 selectivity of pyridine derivatives, as it did for the 4-substituted dihydropyridines. At the 2-and 4-positions ethyl was favored over methyl. Also, unlike the dihydropyridines, a thioester group at the 3-position was favored over an ester for affinity at A3 adenosine receptors, and a 5-position benzyl ester decreased affinity. Small cycloalkyl groups at the 6-position of 4-phenylethynyl-1,4-dihydropyridines were favorable for high affinity at human A3 adenosine receptors, while in the pyridine series a 6-cyclopentyl group decreased affinity. 5-Ethyl 2,4-diethyl-3-(ethylsulfanylcarbonyl)-6-phenylpyridine-5-carboxylate, 38, was highly potent at human A3 receptors, with a Ki value of 20 nM. A 4-propyl derivative, 39b, was selective and highly potent at both human and rat A3 receptors, with Ki values of 18.9 and 113 nM, respectively. A 6-(3-chlorophenyl) derivative, 44, displayed a Ki value of 7.94 nM at human A3 receptors and selectivity of 5200-fold. Molecular modeling, based on the steric and electrostatic alignment (SEAL) method, defined common pharmacophore elements for pyridine and dihydropyridine structures, e.g., the two ester groups and the 6-phenyl group. Moreover, a relationship between affinity and hydrophobicity was found for the pyridines.
PMCID: PMC3474377  PMID: 9703464
11.  Human P2Y1 Receptor: Molecular Modeling and Site-Directed Mutagenesis as Tools To Identify Agonist and Antagonist Recognition Sites 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  1998;41(9):1456-1466.
The molecular basis for recognition by human P2Y1 receptors of the novel, competitive antagonist 2′-deoxy-N6-methyladenosine 3′,5′-bisphosphate (MRS 2179) was probed using site-directed mutagenesis and molecular modeling. The potency of this antagonist was measured in mutant receptors in which key residues in the transmembrane helical domains (TMs) 3, 5, 6, and 7 were replaced by Ala or other amino acids. The capacity of MRS 2179 to block stimulation of phospholipase C promoted by 2-methylthioadenosine 5′-diphosphate (2-MeSADP) was lost in P2Y1 receptors having F226A, K280A, or Q307A mutations, indicating that these residues are critical for the binding of the antagonist molecule. Mutation of the residues His132, Thr222, and Tyr136 had an intermediate effect on the capacity of MRS 2179 to block the P2Y1 receptor. These positions therefore appear to have a modulatory role in recognition of this antagonist. F131A, H277A, T221A, R310K, or S317A mutant receptors exhibited an apparent affinity for MRS 2179 that was similar to that observed with the wild-type receptor. Thus, Phe131, Thr221, His277, and Ser317 are not essential for antagonist recognition. A computer-generated model of the human P2Y1 receptor was built and analyzed to help interpret these results. The model was derived through primary sequence comparison, secondary structure prediction, and three-dimensional homology building, using rhodopsin as a template, and was consistent with data obtained from mutagenesis studies. We have introduced a “cross-docking” procedure to obtain energetically refined 3D structures of the ligand–receptor complexes. Cross-docking simulates the reorganization of the native receptor structure induced by a ligand. A putative nucleotide binding site was localized and used to predict which residues are likely to be in proximity to agonists and antagonists. According to our model TM6 and TM7 are close to the adenine ring, TM3 and TM6 are close to the ribose moiety, and TM3, TM6, and TM7 are near the triphosphate chain.
PMCID: PMC3469197  PMID: 9554879
12.  The Role of Amino Acids in Extracellular Loops of the Human P2Y1 Receptor in Surface Expression and Activation Processes* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  1999;274(21):14639-14647.
The P2Y1 receptor is a membrane-bound G protein-coupled receptor stimulated by adenine nucleotides. Using alanine scanning mutagenesis, the role in receptor activation of charged amino acids (Asp, Glu, Lys, and Arg) and cysteines in the extracellular loops (EL) of the human P2Y1 receptor has been investigated. The mutant receptors were expressed in COS-7 cells and measured for stimulation of phospholipase C induced by the potent agonist 2-methylthioadenosine-5′-diphosphate (2-MeSADP). In addition to single point mutations, all receptors carried the hemagglutinin epitope at the N-terminus for detection of cell-surface expression. The C124A and C202A mutations, located near the exofacial end of transmembrane helix 3 and in EL2, respectively, ablated phospholipase C stimulation by ≤100 μM 2-MeSADP. Surface enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay detection of both mutant receptors showed <10% expression, suggesting that a critical disulfide bridge between EL2 and the upper part of transmembrane 3, as found in many other G protein-coupled receptors, is required for proper trafficking of the P2Y1 receptor to the cell surface. In contrast, the C42A and C296A mutant receptors (located in the N-terminal domain and EL3) were activated by 2-MeSADP, but the EC50 values were >1000-fold greater than for the wild-type receptor. The double mutant receptor C42A/C296A exhibited no additive shift in the concentration-response curve for 2-MeSADP. These data suggest that Cys42 and Cys296 form another disulfide bridge in the extracellular region, which is critical for activation. Replacement of charged amino acids produced only minor changes in receptor activation, with two remarkable exceptions. The E209A mutant receptor (EL2) exhibited a >1000-fold shift in EC50. However, if Glu209 were substituted with amino acids capable of hydrogen bonding (Asp, Gln, or Arg), the mutant receptors responded like the wild-type receptor. Arg287 in EL3 was impaired similarly to Glu209 when substituted by alanine. Substitution of Arg287 by lysine, another positively charged residue, failed to fully restore wild-type activity.
PMCID: PMC3449168  PMID: 10329657
Dietary flavonoids have varied effects on animal cells, such as inhibition of platelet binding and aggregation, inhibition of inflammation, and anticancer properties, but the mechanisms of these effects remain largely unexplained. Adenosine receptors are involved in the homeostasis of the immune, cardiovascular, and central nervous systems, and adenosine agonists/antagonists exert many similar effects. The affinity of flavonoids and other phytochemicals to adenosine receptors suggests that a wide range of natural substances in the diet may potentially block the effects of endogenous adenosine. We used competitive radioligand binding assays to screen flavonoid libraries for affinity and a computational CoMFA analysis of flavonoids to compare steric and electrostatic requirements for ligand recognition at three subtypes of adenosine receptors. Flavone derivatives, such as galangin, were found to bind to three subtypes of adenosine receptors in the μM range. Pentamethylmorin (Ki 2.65 μM) was 14- to 17-fold selective for human A3 receptors than for A1 and A2A receptors. An isoflavone, genistein, was found to bind to A1 receptors. Aurones, such as hispidol (Ki 350 nM) are selective A1 receptor antagonists, and, like genistein, are present in soy. The flavones, chemically optimized for receptor binding, have led to the antagonist, MRS 1067 (3,6-dichloro-2′-(isopropoxy)-4′-methylflavone), which is 200-fold more selective for human A3 than A1 receptors. Adenosine receptor antagonism, therefore, may be important In the spectrum of biological activities reported for the flavonoids.
PMCID: PMC3429336  PMID: 12083460
14.  Synthesis and pharmacological characterization of a new series of 5,7-disubstituted-[1,2,4]triazolo[1,5-a][1,3,5]triazine derivatives as adenosine receptor antagonists: A preliminary inspection of ligand–receptor recognition process 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2010;18(7):2524-2536.
A new series of triazolotriazines variously substituted at the C5 and N7 (5–25) positions was synthesized and fully characterized at the four adenosine receptor (AR) subtypes. In particular, arylacetyl or arylcarbamoyl moieties were introduced at the N7 position, which enhanced affinity at the hA2B and hA3 ARs, respectively, when utilized on the pyrazolo-triazolopyrimidine nucleus as we reported in the past. In general, compounds with a free amino group at the 7 position (5, 6), showed good affinity at the rat (r) A2A AR (range 18.3–96.5 nM), while the introduction of a phenylcarbamoyl moiety at the N7 position (12, 19, 24) slightly increased the affinity at the hA3 AR (range 311–633 nM) with respect to the unsubstituted derivatives. The binding profiles of the synthesized analogues seemed to correlate with the substitutions at the C5 and N7 positions. At the hA2B AR, derivative 5, which contained a free amino group at the 7 position, was the most potent (EC50 3.42 μM) and could represent a starting point for searching new non-xanthine hA2B AR antagonists. Molecular models of the rA2A and hA3 ARs were constructed by homology to the recently reported crystallographic structure of the hA2A AR. A preliminary receptor-driven structure–activity relationship (SAR) based on the analysis of antagonist docking has been provided.
PMCID: PMC3106415  PMID: 20304654
G Protein-coupled receptors; Adenosine receptor antagonists; Triazolo-triazine; Ligand–receptor modeling studies
15.  Swimming into peptidomimetic chemical space using pepMMsMIMIC 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(Web Server issue):W261-W269.
pepMMsMIMIC is a novel web-oriented peptidomimetic compound virtual screening tool based on a multi-conformers three-dimensional (3D)-similarity search strategy. Key to the development of pepMMsMIMIC has been the creation of a library of 17 million conformers calculated from 3.9 million commercially available chemicals collected in the MMsINC® database. Using as input the 3D structure of a peptide bound to a protein, pepMMsMIMIC suggests which chemical structures are able to mimic the protein–protein recognition of this natural peptide using both pharmacophore and shape similarity techniques. We hope that the accessibility of pepMMsMIMIC (freely available at will encourage medicinal chemists to de-peptidize protein–protein recognition processes of biological interest, thus increasing the potential of in silico peptidomimetic compound screening of known small molecules to expedite drug development.
PMCID: PMC3125738  PMID: 21622954
16.  MMsINC: a large-scale chemoinformatics database 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;37(Database issue):D284-D290.
MMsINC ( is a database of non-redundant, richly annotated and biomedically relevant chemical structures. A primary goal of MMsINC is to guarantee the highest quality and the uniqueness of each entry. MMsINC then adds value to these entries by including the analysis of crucial chemical properties, such as ionization and tautomerization processes, and the in silico prediction of 24 important molecular properties in the biochemical profile of each structure. MMsINC is consequently a natural input for different chemoinformatics and virtual screening applications. In addition, MMsINC supports various types of queries, including substructure queries and the novel ‘molecular scissoring’ query. MMsINC is interfaced with other primary data collectors, such as PubChem, Protein Data Bank (PDB), the Food and Drug Administration database of approved drugs and ZINC.
PMCID: PMC2686567  PMID: 18931373
17.  Pyrazolo-triazolo-pyrimidines as adenosine receptor antagonists: Effect of the N-5 bond type on the affinity and selectivity at the four adenosine receptor subtypes 
Purinergic Signalling  2007;4(1):39-46.
In the last few years, many efforts have been made to search for potent and selective human A3 adenosine antagonists. In particular, one of the most promising human A3 adenosine receptor antagonists is represented by the pyrazolo-triazolo-pyrimidine family. This class of compounds has been strongly investigated from the point of view of structure-activity relationships. In particular, it has been observed that fundamental requisites for having both potency and selectivity at the human A3 adenosine receptors are the presence of a small substituent at the N8 position and an unsubstitued phenyl carbamoyl moiety at the N5 position. In this study, we report the role of the N5-bond type on the affinity and selectivity at the four adenosine receptor subtypes. The observed structure-activity relationships of this class of antagonists are also exhaustively rationalized using the recently published ligand-based homology modeling approach.
PMCID: PMC2245997  PMID: 18368532
Adenosine receptors; Antagonist binding; Ligand-based homology modeling; Molecular modeling
18.  Pyrazolo-triazolo-pyrimidines as adenosine receptor antagonists: A complete structure–activity profile 
Purinergic Signalling  2006;3(3):183-193.
In the last 5 years, many efforts have been conducted searching potent and selective human A3 adenosine antagonists. In this field several different classes of compounds, possessing very good affinity (nM range) and with a broad range of selectivity, have been proposed. Recently, our group synthesized a new series of pyrazolo-triazolo-pyrimidines bearing different substitutions at the N5 and N8 positions, which have been described as highly potent and selective human A3 adenosine receptor antagonists. The present review summarizes available data and provides an overview of the structure–activity relationships found for this class of human A3 adenosine receptor antagonists.
PMCID: PMC2096643  PMID: 18404432
adenosine receptors; antagonists; binding; molecular modeling; pyrazolo-triazolo-pyrimidines
19.  The topoisomerase II poison clerocidin alkylates non-paired guanines of DNA: implications for irreversible stimulation of DNA cleavage 
Nucleic Acids Research  2001;29(20):4224-4230.
Clerocidin, a diterpenoid with antibacterial and antitumor activity, stimulates in vitro DNA cleavage mediated by mammalian and bacterial topoisomerase (topo) II. Different from the classical topoisomerase poisons, clerocidin-stimulated breaks at guanines immediately preceding the sites of DNA cleavage are not resealed upon heat or salt treatment. To understand the mechanism of irreversible trapping of the topo II-cleavable complex, we have investigated the reactivity of clerocidin per se towards DNA. We show here that the drug is able to nick negatively supercoiled plasmids. DNA cleavage by clerocidin in enzyme-free medium is due to the ability of the drug to form covalent adducts with guanines. Indeed, clerocidin was able to specifically react with short oligonucleotides when the guanines were unpaired and exposed as in bulges or in the single-strand form. The clerocidin epoxy group attacks the nitrogen at position 7 of guanines, leading to strand scission at the modified site. Our findings also demonstrate that trapping of topoisomerases by clerocidin is specific for type II enzymes. The guanine-alkylating ability of clerocidin suggests an unprecedented mechanism of topo II poisoning, according to which the enzyme renders the drug reactive toward DNA by distorting the double-helical structure of the nucleic acid at the cleavage site.
PMCID: PMC60217  PMID: 11600711
20.  DNA Binding Site Selection of Dimeric and Tetrameric Stat5 Proteins Reveals a Large Repertoire of Divergent Tetrameric Stat5a Binding Sites 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2000;20(1):389-401.
We have defined the optimal binding sites for Stat5a and Stat5b homodimers and found that they share similar core TTC(T/C)N(G/A)GAA interferon gamma-activated sequence (GAS) motifs. Stat5a tetramers can bind to tandemly linked GAS motifs, but the binding site selection revealed that tetrameric binding also can be seen with a wide range of nonconsensus motifs, which in many cases did not allow Stat5a binding as a dimer. This indicates a greater degree of flexibility in the DNA sequences that allow binding of Stat5a tetramers than dimers. Indeed, in an oligonucleotide that could bind both dimers and tetramers, it was possible to design mutants that affected dimer binding without affecting tetramer binding. A spacing of 6 bp between the GAS sites was most frequently selected, demonstrating that this distance is favorable for Stat5a tetramer binding. These data provide insights into tetramer formation by Stat5a and indicate that the repertoire of potential binding sites for this transcription factor is broader than expected.
PMCID: PMC85094  PMID: 10594041

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