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1.  Antitumor Activity of 3-Indolylmethanamines 31B and PS121912 
Anticancer research  2015;35(11):6001-6007.
To investigate the in vivo effects of 3-indolylmethanamines 31B and PS121912 in treating ovarian cancer and leukemia, respectively.
Materials and Methods
Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) and western blotting were applied to demonstrate the induction of apoptosis. Xenografted mice were investigated to show the antitumor effects of 3-indolylmethanamines. 13C-Nuclear magnetic resource (NMR) and western blotting were used to demonstrate inhibition of glucose metabolism.
31B inhibited ovarian cancer cell proliferation and activated caspase-3, cleaved poly [ADP-ribose] polymerase 1 (PARP-1), and phosphorylated mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK), jun N-terminal kinase/stress-activated protein kinase (JNK/SAPK) and p38. 31B reduced ovarian cancer xenograft tumor growth and PS121912 inhibited the growth of HL-60 derived xenografts without any sign of toxicity. Compound 31B inhibited de novo glycolysis and lipogenesis mediated by the reduction of fatty acid synthase and lactate dehydrogenase-A expression.
3-Indolylmethanamines represent a new class of antitumor agents. We have shown for the first time the in vivo anticancer effects of 3-indolylmethanamines 31B and PS121912.
PMCID: PMC4633305  PMID: 26504023
3-Indolylmethanamine; ovarian cancer; leukemia
2.  A Review of the Updated Pharmacophore for the Alpha 5 GABA(A) Benzodiazepine Receptor Model 
An updated model of the GABA(A) benzodiazepine receptor pharmacophore of the α5-BzR/GABA(A) subtype has been constructed prompted by the synthesis of subtype selective ligands in light of the recent developments in both ligand synthesis, behavioral studies, and molecular modeling studies of the binding site itself. A number of BzR/GABA(A) α5 subtype selective compounds were synthesized, notably α5-subtype selective inverse agonist PWZ-029 (1) which is active in enhancing cognition in both rodents and primates. In addition, a chiral positive allosteric modulator (PAM), SH-053-2′F-R-CH3 (2), has been shown to reverse the deleterious effects in the MAM-model of schizophrenia as well as alleviate constriction in airway smooth muscle. Presented here is an updated model of the pharmacophore for α5β2γ2 Bz/GABA(A) receptors, including a rendering of PWZ-029 docked within the α5-binding pocket showing specific interactions of the molecule with the receptor. Differences in the included volume as compared to α1β2γ2, α2β2γ2, and α3β2γ2 will be illustrated for clarity. These new models enhance the ability to understand structural characteristics of ligands which act as agonists, antagonists, or inverse agonists at the Bz BS of GABA(A) receptors.
PMCID: PMC4657098  PMID: 26682068
3.  Anticancer Activity of VDR-Coregulator Inhibitor PS121912 
PS121912 has been developed as selective vitamin D receptor (VDR)–coregulator inhibitor starting from a high throughput screening campaign to identify new agents that modulate VDR without causing hypercalcemia. Initial antiproliferative effects of PS121912 were observed that are characterized herein to enable future in vivo investigation with this molecule.
Antiproliferation and apoptosis was determined using four different cancer cell lines (DU145, Caco2, HL-60, and SKOV3) in the presence of PS121912, 1,25-(OH)2D3, or a combination of 1,25-(OH)2D3 and PS121912. VDR si-RNA was used to identify the role of VDR during this process. The application of ChIP enabled us to determine the involvement of coregulator recruitment during transcription, which was investigated by rt-PCR with VDR target genes and those affiliated with cell cycle progression. Translational changes of apoptotic proteins were determined with an antibody array. The preclinical characterization of PS121912 include the determination of metabolic stability and CYP3A4 inhibition.
PS121912 induced apoptosis in all four cancer cells, with HL-60 cells being the most sensitive. At sub-micromolar concentrations, PS121912 amplified the growth inhibition of cancer cells caused by 1,25-(OH)2D3 without being antiproliferative by itself. A knockout study with VDR si-RNA confirmed the mediating role of VDR. VDR target genes induced by 1,25-(OH)2D3 were down-regulated with the co-treatment of PS121912. This process was highly dependent on the recruitment of coregulators that in case of CYP24A1 was SRC2. The combination of PS121912 and 1,25-(OH)2D3 reduced the presence of SRC2 and enriched the occupancy of corepressor NCoR at the promoter site. E2F transcription factor 1 and 4 were down-regulated in the presence of PS121912 and 1,25-(OH)2D3 that in turn reduced the transcription levels of cyclin A and D thus arresting HL-60 cells in the S or G2/M phase. In addition, proteins with hematopietic functions such as cyclin-dependent kinase 6, histone deacetylase 9 and transforming growth factor beta 2 and 3 were down-regulated as well. Elevated levels of P21 and GADD45, in concert with cyclin D1 also mediated the antiproliferative response of HL-60 in the presence of 1,25-(OH)2D3 and PS121912. Studies at higher concentration of P121912 identified a VDR-independent pathway of antiproliferation that included the enzymatic and transcriptional activation of caspase 3/7.
Overall, we conclude that PS121912 behaves like a VDR antagonist at low concentrations but interacts with more targets at higher concentrations leading to apoptosis mediated by caspase 3/7 activation. In addition, PS121912 showed an acceptable metabolic stability to enable in vivo cancer studies.
PMCID: PMC4177010  PMID: 25107568
Vitamin D receptor; VDR–coregulator inhibitor; leukemia; cell cycle regulation; apoptosis; HL-60; 3-indolylmethanamine
4.  GLO1 inhibitors for neuropsychiatric and anti-epileptic drug development 
Biochemical Society transactions  2014;42(2):461-467.
Many current pharmacological treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are limited by a delayed onset of therapeutic effect, adverse side effects, abuse potential or lack of effect in many patients. These off-target effects highlight the need to identify novel mechanisms and targets for treatment. Recently, modulation of glyoxalase 1 (GLO1) activity was shown to regulate anxiety-like behavior and seizure susceptibility in mice. These effects are likely mediated through the regulation of methylglyoxal (MG) by GLO1, as MG acts as a competitive partial agonist at GABAA receptors (GABAARs). Thus, modulation of MG by GLO1 represents a novel target for treatment. Here, we evaluate the therapeutic potential of indirectly modulating MG concentrations through GLO1 inhibitors for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders.
PMCID: PMC4036232  PMID: 24646261
GLO1 Inhibitor; Glyoxalase 1; Methylglyoxal; neuropsychiatric disorders; epilepsy; treatment
5.  A fluorescence-based high throughput assay for the determination of small molecule–human serum albumin protein binding 
Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry  2014;406(7):1867-1875.
Herein, we describe the development of a fluorescence-based high throughput assay to determine the small molecule binding towards human serum albumin (HSA). This innovative competition assay is based on the use of a novel fluorescent small molecule Red Mega 500 with unique spectroscopic and binding properties. The commercially available probe displays a large fluorescence intensity difference between the protein-bound and protein-unbound state. The competition of small molecules for HSA binding in the presence of probe resulted in low fluorescence intensities. The assay was evaluated with the LOPAC small molecule library of 1280 compounds identifying known high protein binders. The small molecule competition of HSA–Red Mega 500 binding was saturable at higher compound concentrations and exhibited IC50 values between 3–24 μM. The compound affinity towards HSA was confirmed by isothermal titration calorimetry indicating that the new protein binding assay is a valid high throughput assay to determine plasma protein binding.
PMCID: PMC3959589  PMID: 24390461
drug-protein binding; high throughput screening; Red Mega 500; human serum albumin
6.  Development of novel Vitamin D Receptor–Coactivator Inhibitors 
ACS medicinal chemistry letters  2014;5(2):199-204.
Nuclear receptor coregulators are master regulators of transcription and selectively interact with the vitamin D receptor (VDR) to modulate cell differentiation, cell proliferation and calcium homeostasis. Herein, we report the syntheses and evaluation of highly potent and selective VDR–coactivator inhibitors based on a recently identified 3-indolylmethanamine scaffold. The most active compound, PS121912, selectively inhibited VDR-mediated transcription among eight other nuclear receptors tested. PS121912 is also selectively disrupting the binding between VDR and the third nuclear receptor interaction domain of the coactivator SRC2. Genetic studies revealed that PS121912 behaves like a VDR antagonist by repressing 1,25-(OH)2D3 activated gene transcription. In addition, PS121912 induced apoptosis in HL-60.
PMCID: PMC4007349  PMID: 24799995
Vitamin D receptor; VDR; steroid receptor coactivator; fluorescence polarization; high throughput screening; 3-indolylmethanamines; CYP24A1; CAMP; apoptosis; HL60
7.  Development of Novel Vitamin D Receptor–Coactivator Inhibitors 
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters  2014;5(2):199-204.
Nuclear receptor coregulators are master regulators of transcription and selectively interact with the vitamin D receptor (VDR) to modulate cell differentiation, cell proliferation, and calcium homeostasis. Herein, we report the syntheses and evaluation of highly potent and selective VDR–coactivator inhibitors based on a recently identified 3-indolylmethanamine scaffold. The most active compound, PS121912, selectively inhibited VDR-mediated transcription among eight other nuclear receptors tested. PS121912 is also selectively disrupting the binding between VDR and the third nuclear receptor interaction domain of the coactivator SRC2. Genetic studies revealed that PS121912 behaves like a VDR antagonist by repressing 1,25-(OH)2D3 activated gene transcription. In addition, PS121912 induced apoptosis in HL-60.
PMCID: PMC4007349  PMID: 24799995
Vitamin D receptor; VDR; steroid receptor coactivator; fluorescence polarization; high throughput screening; 3-indolyl-methanamines; CYP24A1; CAMP; apoptosis; HL60
8.  Modulation of Transcription mediated by the Vitamin D Receptor and the Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor δ in the presence of GW0742 analogs 
Herein we describe the evaluation of GW0742 analogs in respect to their ability to modulate transcription mediated by the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and the peroxisome proliferator activated receptor (PPAR) δ. The GW0742 analog bearing a carboxylic ester functionality in place of the carboxylic acid was partially activating both nuclear receptors at low concentration and inhibited transcription at higher compound concentrations. The GW0742 alcohol derivative was more active than the ester in respect to VDR but less active in regard to PPARδ. Importantly, the alcohol derivative was significantly more toxic than the corresponding acid and ester.
PMCID: PMC4255951  PMID: 25485183
Nuclear receptor research  2014;1:101076.
Herein, we described the development of two virtual screens to identify new vitamin D receptor (VDR) antagonists among nuclear receptor (NR) ligands. Therefore, a database of 14330 nuclear receptor ligands and their NR affinities was assembled using the online available “Binding Database”. Two different virtual screens were carried out in conjunction with a reported VDR crystal structure applying a stringent and less stringent pharmacophore model to filter docked NR ligand conformations. The pharmacophore models were based on the spatial orientation of the hydroxyl functionalities of VDR’s natural ligands 1,25(OH2)D3 and 25(OH2)D3. The first virtual screen identified 32 NR ligands with a calculate free energy of VDR binding of more than −6.0 kJ/mol. All but nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) are VDR ligands, which inhibited the interaction between VDR and coactivator peptide SRC2-3 with an IC50 value of 15.8 µM. The second screen identified 162 NR ligands with a calculate free energy of VDR binding of more than −6.0 kJ/mol. More than half of these ligands were developed to bind VDR followed by ERα/β ligands (26%), TRα/β ligands (7%) and LxRα/β ligands (7%). The binding between VDR and ERα ligand H6036 as well as TRα/β ligand triiodothyronine and a homoserine analog thereof was confirmed by fluorescence polarization.
PMCID: PMC4240308  PMID: 25419525
Virtual screening; nuclear receptor; vitamin D receptor; thyroid receptor; estrogen receptor
10.  PPAR δ agonist GW0742 interacts weakly with multiple nuclear receptors including the vitamin D receptor 
Biochemistry  2013;52(24):4193-4203.
A high throughput screening campaign was conducted to identify small molecules with the ability to inhibit the interaction between the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and steroid receptor coactivator 2. These inhibitors represent novel molecular probes to modulate gene regulation mediated by VDR. The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor δ (PPARδ) agonist GW0742 was among the identified VDR-coactivator inhibitors and has been characterized herein as a pan nuclear receptor antagonist at concentrations higher than 12.1 µM. The highest antagonist activity for GW0742 was found for VDR and the androgen receptor (AR). Surprisingly, GW0742 behaved as PPAR agonist/antagonist activating transcription at lower concentration and inhibiting this effect at higher concentrations. A unique spectroscopic property of GW0742 was identified as well. In the presence of rhodamine-derived molecules, GW0742+ increased fluorescence intensity and fluorescence polarization at an excitation wavelength of 595 nm and emission wavelength of 615 nm in a dose dependent manner. The GW0742-inhibited NR-coactivator binding resulted in a reduced expression of five different NR target genes in LNCaP cells in the presence of agonist. Especially VDR target genes CYP24A1, IGFBP-3 and TRPV6 were negatively regulated by GW0742. GW0742 is the first VDR ligand inhibitor lacking the secosteroid structure of VDR ligand antagonists. Nevertheless, the VDR-meditated downstream process of cell differentiation was antagonized by GW0742 in HL-60 cells that were pretreated with the endogenous VDR agonist 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3.
PMCID: PMC3724348  PMID: 23713684
GW0742; vitamin D receptor; androgen receptor; peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor; steroid receptor coactivator 2; fluorescence polarization; high throughput screening; IGFBP-3; CYP24A1; TRPV6; UGT1A1; PSA; BTG2
11.  PT19c, Another Nonhypercalcemic Vitamin D2 Derivative, Demonstrates Antitumor Efficacy in Epithelial Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer Models 
Genes & Cancer  2013;4(11-12):524-534.
Hypercalcemia remains a major impediment to the clinical use of vitamin D in cancer treatment. Approaches to remove hypercalcemia and development of nonhypercalcemic agents can lead to the development of vitamin D–based therapies for treatment of various cancers. In this report, in vitro and in vivo anticancer efficacy, safety, and details of vitamin D receptor (VDR) interactions of PT19c, a novel nonhypercalcemic vitamin D derived anticancer agent, are described. PT19c was synthesized by bromoacetylation of PTAD-ergocalciferol adduct. Broader growth inhibitory potential of PT19c was evaluated in a panel of chemoresistant breast, renal, ovarian, lung, colon, leukemia, prostate, melanoma, and central nervous system cancers cell line types of NCI60 cell line panel. Interactions of PT19c with VDR were determined by a VDR transactivation assay in a VDR overexpressing VDR-UAS-bla-HEK293 cells, in vitro VDR-coregulator binding, and molecular docking with VDR-ligand binding domain (VDR-LBD) in comparison with calcitriol. Acute toxicity of PT19c was determined in nontumored mice. In vivo antitumor efficacy of PT19c was determined via ovarian and endometrial cancer xenograft experiments. Effect of PT19c on actin filament organization and focal adhesion formation was examined by microscopy. PT19c treatment inhibited growth of chemoresistant NCI60 cell lines (log10GI50 ~ −4.05 to −6.73). PT19c (10 mg/kg, 35 days) reduced growth of ovarian and endometrial xenograft tumor without hypercalcemia. PT19c exerted no acute toxicity up to 400 mg/kg (QDx1) in animals. PT19c showed weak VDR antagonism, lack of VDR binding, and inverted spatial accommodation in VDR-LBD. PT19c caused actin filament dysfunction and inhibited focal adhesion in SKOV-3 cells. PT19c is a VDR independent nonhypercalcemic vitamin D–derived agent that showed noteworthy safety and efficacy in ovarian and endometrial cancer animal models and inhibited actin organization and focal adhesion in ovarian cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3877664  PMID: 24386512
vitamin D; hypercalcemia; antitumor efficacy; ovarian cancer; endometrial cancer
12.  Comparison of Cell Expression Formats for the Characterization of GABAA Channels Using a Microfluidic Patch Clamp System 
Ensemble recording and microfluidic perfusion are recently introduced techniques aimed at removing the laborious nature and low recording success rates of manual patch clamp. Here, we present assay characteristics for these features integrated into one automated electrophysiology platform as applied to the study of GABAA channels. A variety of cell types and methods of GABAA channel expression were successfully studied (defined as IGABA>500 pA), including stably transfected human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells expressing α1β3γ2 GABAA channels, frozen ready-to-assay (RTA) HEK cells expressing α1β3γ2 or α3β3γ2 GABAA channels, transiently transfected HEK293T cells expressing α1β3γ2 GABAA channels, and immortalized cultures of human airway smooth muscle cells endogenously expressing GABAA channels. Current measurements were successfully studied in multiple cell types with multiple modes of channel expression in response to several classic GABAA channel agonists, antagonists, and allosteric modulators. We obtained success rates above 95% for transiently or stably transfected HEK cells and frozen RTA HEK cells expressing GABAA channels. Tissue-derived immortalized cultures of airway smooth muscle cells exhibited a slightly lower recording success rate of 75% using automated patch, which was much higher than the 5% success rate using manual patch clamp technique by the same research group. Responses to agonists, antagonists, and allosteric modulators compared well to previously reported manual patch results. The data demonstrate that both the biophysics and pharmacologic characterization of GABAA channels in a wide variety of cell formats can be performed using this automated patch clamp system.
PMCID: PMC3419985  PMID: 22574655
13.  High throughput identification of promiscuous inhibitors from screening libraries with the use of a thiol-containing fluorescent probe 
Journal of biomolecular screening  2013;18(6):705-713.
Testing small molecules for their ability to modify cysteine residues of proteins in the early stages of drug discovery is expected to accelerate our ability to develop more selective drugs with lesser side effects. In addition, this approach also enables the rapid evaluation of the mode of binding of new drug candidates in respect to thiol-reactivity and metabolism by glutathione. Herein, we describe the development of a fluorescence-based high throughput assay that allows the identification of thiol-reactive compounds. A thiol-containing fluorescent probe MSTI was synthesized and used to evaluate small molecules from the LOPAC collection of bioactive molecules. LOPAC compounds that are known to react with sulfur nucleophiles were identified with this assay, for example, irreversible protease inhibitors, nitric oxide releasing compounds, and proton-pump inhibitors. The results confirm that both electrophilic and redox reactive compounds can be quickly identified in a high throughput manner enabling the assessment of screening libraries in respect to thiol-reactive compounds.
PMCID: PMC3692575  PMID: 23446699
Promiscuous inhibitors; glutathione; fluorescence; high throughput screening; thiol-reactive or electrophilic compound
14.  Discovery of the First Irreversible Small Molecule Inhibitors of the Interaction between the Vitamin D Receptor and Coactivators 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2012;55(10):4640-4651.
The vitamin D receptor (VDR) is a nuclear hormone receptor that regulates cell proliferation, cell differentiation, and calcium homeostasis. The receptor is activated by vitamin D analogs that induce the disruption of VDR-corepressor binding and promote VDR-coactivator interactions. The interactions between VDR and coregulators are essential for VDR-mediated transcription. Small molecule inhibition of VDR–coregulator binding represents an alternative method to the traditional ligand-based approach in order to modulate the expression of VDR target genes. A high throughput fluorescence polarization screen that quantifies the inhibition of binding between VDR and a fluorescently labeled steroid receptor coactivator 2 peptide was applied to discover the new small molecule VDR–coactivator inhibitors, 3-indolyl-methanamines. Structure-activity relationship studies with 3-indolyl-methanamine analogs were used to determine their mode of VDR-binding and to produce the first VDR-selective and irreversible VDR–coactivator inhibitors with the ability to regulate the transcription of the human VDR target gene, TRPV6.
PMCID: PMC3364162  PMID: 22563729
Vitamin D receptor; steroid receptor coactivator; fluorescence polarization; high throughput screening; 3-indolyl-methanamines; TRPV6
ACS chemical biology  2011;6(10):1096-1106.
Thyroid hormone (T3) mediates diverse physiological functions including growth, differentiation, and energy homeostasis through the thyroid hormone receptors (TR). The TR bind DNA at specific recognition sequences in the promoter regions of their target genes known as the thyroid hormone response elements (TREs). Gene expression at TREs regulated by TRs is mediated by coregulator recruitment to the DNA bound receptor. This TR-coregulator interaction controls transcription of target genes by multiple mechanisms including covalent histone modifications and chromatin remodeling. Our previous studies identified a β-aminoketone as a potent inhibitor of the TR-coactivator interaction. We describe here the activity of one of these inhibitors in modulating effects of T3 signaling in comparison to an established ligand-competitive inhibitor of TR, NH-3. The β-aminoketone was found to reverse thyroid hormone induced gene expression by inhibiting coactivator recruitment at target gene promoters, thereby regulating downstream effects of thyroid hormone. While mimicking the downstream effects of a ligand competitive inhibitor at the molecular level, the β-aminoketone affects only a subset of the thyroid responsive signaling network. Thus antagonists directed to the coregulator binding site have distinct pharmacological properties relative to ligand based antagonists and may provide complementary activity in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3199310  PMID: 21815645
16.  A Quantitative High Throughput Screen Identifies Novel Inhibitors of the Interaction of Thyroid Receptor β with a Peptide of Steroid Receptor Coactivator 2 
Journal of biomolecular screening  2011;16(6):618-627.
The thyroid hormone receptors (TR) are members of the nuclear hormone receptor (NHR) superfamily that regulate development, growth, and metabolism. Upon ligand binding, TR releases bound corepressors and recruits coactivators to modulate target gene expression. Steroid Receptor Coactivator 2 (SRC2) is an important coregulator that interacts with TRβ to activate gene transcription. To identify novel inhibitors of the TRβ and SRC2 interaction, we performed a quantitative high throughput screen (qHTS) of a TRβ-SRC2 fluorescence polarization assay against more than 290,000 small molecules. The qHTS assayed compounds at six concentrations up to 92 uM to generate titration-response curves and determine the potency and efficacy of all compounds. The qHTS dataset enabled the characterization of actives for structure-activity relationships as well as for potential artifacts such as fluorescence interference. Selected qHTS actives were tested in the screening assay using fluoroprobes labeled with Texas Red or fluorescein. The retest identified 19 series and 4 singletons as active in both assays with 40% or greater efficacy, free of compound interference and not toxic to mammalian cells. Selected compounds were tested as independent samples and a methylsulfonylnitrobenzoate series inhibited the TRβ-SRC2 interaction with 5 uM IC50. This series represents a new class of thyroid hormone receptor-coactivator modulators.
PMCID: PMC3162318  PMID: 21482722
thyroid receptor; small molecule; HTS; coactivator; protein-protein interaction
17.  Identification and analysis of hepatitis C virus NS3 helicase inhibitors using nucleic acid binding assays 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(17):8607-8621.
Typical assays used to discover and analyze small molecules that inhibit the hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS3 helicase yield few hits and are often confounded by compound interference. Oligonucleotide binding assays are examined here as an alternative. After comparing fluorescence polarization (FP), homogeneous time-resolved fluorescence (HTRF®; Cisbio) and AlphaScreen® (Perkin Elmer) assays, an FP-based assay was chosen to screen Sigma’s Library of Pharmacologically Active Compounds (LOPAC) for compounds that inhibit NS3-DNA complex formation. Four LOPAC compounds inhibited the FP-based assay: aurintricarboxylic acid (ATA) (IC50 = 1.4 μM), suramin sodium salt (IC50 = 3.6 μM), NF 023 hydrate (IC50 = 6.2 μM) and tyrphostin AG 538 (IC50 = 3.6 μM). All but AG 538 inhibited helicase-catalyzed strand separation, and all but NF 023 inhibited replication of subgenomic HCV replicons. A counterscreen using Escherichia coli single-stranded DNA binding protein (SSB) revealed that none of the new HCV helicase inhibitors were specific for NS3h. However, when the SSB-based assay was used to analyze derivatives of another non-specific helicase inhibitor, the main component of the dye primuline, it revealed that some primuline derivatives (e.g. PubChem CID50930730) are up to 30-fold more specific for HCV NS3h than similarly potent HCV helicase inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3458564  PMID: 22740655
18.  Efficacy of a Non-Hypercalcemic Vitamin-D2 Derived Anti-Cancer Agent (MT19c) and Inhibition of Fatty Acid Synthesis in an Ovarian Cancer Xenograft Model 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34443.
Numerous vitamin-D analogs exhibited poor response rates, high systemic toxicities and hypercalcemia in human trials to treat cancer. We identified the first non-hypercalcemic anti-cancer vitamin D analog MT19c by altering the A-ring of ergocalciferol. This study describes the therapeutic efficacy and mechanism of action of MT19c in both in vitro and in vivo models.
Methodology/Principal Finding
Antitumor efficacy of MT19c was evaluated in ovarian cancer cell (SKOV-3) xenografts in nude mice and a syngenic rat ovarian cancer model. Serum calcium levels of MT19c or calcitriol treated animals were measured. In-silico molecular docking simulation and a cell based VDR reporter assay revealed MT19c–VDR interaction. Genomewide mRNA analysis of MT19c treated tumors identified drug targets which were verified by immunoblotting and microscopy. Quantification of cellular malonyl CoA was carried out by HPLC-MS. A binding study with PPAR-Y receptor was performed. MT19c reduced ovarian cancer growth in xenograft and syngeneic animal models without causing hypercalcemia or acute toxicity. MT19c is a weak vitamin-D receptor (VDR) antagonist that disrupted the interaction between VDR and coactivator SRC2-3. Genome-wide mRNA analysis and western blot and microscopy of MT19c treated xenograft tumors showed inhibition of fatty acid synthase (FASN) activity. MT19c reduced cellular levels of malonyl CoA in SKOV-3 cells and inhibited EGFR/phosphoinositol-3kinase (PI-3K) activity independently of PPAR-gamma protein.
Antitumor effects of non-hypercalcemic agent MT19c provide a new approach to the design of vitamin-D based anticancer molecules and a rationale for developing MT19c as a therapeutic agent for malignant ovarian tumors by targeting oncogenic de novo lipogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3317945  PMID: 22509304
19.  Novel Flufenamic Acid Analogs as Inhibitors of Androgen Receptor Mediated Transcription 
ACS chemical biology  2009;4(10):834-843.
The androgen receptor (AR), which mediates the signals of androgens, plays a crucial role in prostate related diseases. Although widely used, currently marketed anti-androgenic drugs have significant side effects. Several studies have revealed that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like flufenamic acid, block AR transcriptional activity. Herein we describe the development of small molecule analogs of flufenamic acid that antagonize AR. This novel class of AR inhibitors binds to the hormone binding site, blocks AR transcription activity, and acts on AR target genes.
PMCID: PMC2763043  PMID: 19645433
Androgen receptor; transcription factor; anti-androgen; flufenamic acid
20.  Improvement of Pharmacological Properties of Irreversible Thyroid Receptor Coactivator Binding Inhibitors 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2009;52(13):3892-3901.
We have previously reported the discovery and preliminary structure activity relationships of a series of β-aminoketones that disrupt the binding of coactivators to TR. However, the most active compounds had moderate inhibitory potency and relatively high cytotoxicity, resulting in narrow therapeutic index. Additionally, preliminary evaluation of in vivo toxicology revealed a significant dose related cardiotoxicity. Here we describe the improvement of pharmacological properties of thyroid hormone receptor coactivator binding inhibitors. A comprehensive survey of the effects of substitutents in key areas of the molecule was carried out, based on mechanistic insight from the earlier report. This study revealed that both electron withdrawing and hydrophobic substituents on the aromatic ring led to higher potency. On the other hand, moving from an alkyl to a sulfonyl alkyl side chain led to reduced cytotoxicity. Finally, utilization of amine moieties having low pKa’s resulted in lowered ion channel activity without any loss of pharmacological activity.
PMCID: PMC2753520  PMID: 19469546
21.  Inhibition of a Viral Enzyme by a Small Molecule Dimer Disruptor 
Nature chemical biology  2009;5(9):640-646.
Small molecule dimer disruptors that inhibit an essential dimeric protease of human Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) were identified by screening an α-helical mimetic library. Subsequently, a second generation of low micromolar inhibitors with improved potency and solubility was synthesized. Complementary methods including size exclusion chromatography and 1H-13C HSQC titration using selectively labeled 13C-Met samples revealed that monomeric protease is enriched in the presence of inhibitor. 1H-15N-HSQC titration studies mapped the inhibitor binding-site to the dimer interface, and mutagenesis studies targeting this region were consistent with a mechanism where inhibitor binding prevents dimerization through the conformational selection of a dynamic intermediate. These results validate the interface of herpesvirus proteases and other similar oligomeric interactions as suitable targets for the development of small molecule inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2752665  PMID: 19633659
22.  Quantification of the Vitamin D Receptor - Coregulator Interaction 
Biochemistry  2009;48(7):1454-1461.
The vitamin D receptor (VDR) regulates a diverse set of genes that control processes including bone mineral homeostasis, immune function and hair follicle cycling. Upon binding to its natural ligand, 1α,25(OH)2D3, the VDR undergoes a conformational change that allows the release of corepressor proteins and the binding of coactivator proteins necessary for gene transcription. We report the first comprehensive evaluation of the interaction of the VDR with a library of coregulator binding motifs in the presence of two ligands, the natural ligand 1α,25(OH)2D3 and a synthetic, non-secosteroidal agonist LG190178. We show that the VDR has relatively high affinity for the second and third LxxLL motifs of SRC1, SRC2 and SRC3 and second LxxLL motif of DRIP205. This pattern is distinct in comparison to other nuclear receptors. The pattern of VDR-coregulator binding affinities was very similar for the two agonists investigated, suggesting that the biologic functions of LG190178 and 1α,25(OH)2D3 are similar. Hairless binds the VDR in the presence of ligand through a LxxLL motif (Hr-1), repressing transcription in the presence and absence of ligand. The VDR binding patterns identified in this study may be used to predict functional differences among different tissues expressing different sets of coregulators, thus facilitating the goal of developing tissue and gene specific vitamin D response modulators.
PMCID: PMC2654718  PMID: 19183053
23.  A High-Throughput Ligand Competition Binding Assay for the Androgen Receptor and other Nuclear Receptors 
Standardized, automated ligand binding assays facilitate evaluation of endocrine activities of environmental chemicals and identification of antagonists of nuclear receptor ligands. Many current assays rely on fluorescently labeled ligands which are significantly different from the native ligands. We describe a radiolabeled ligand competition scintillation proximity assay (SPA) for the androgen receptor (AR) using Ni-coated 384-well FlashPlates® and liganded AR-LBD protein. This highly reproducible, low cost assay is well-suited for automated HTS. Additionally, we show that this assay can be adapted to measure ligand affinities for other nuclear receptors (peroxisome proliferation activated receptor γ, thyroid receptors α and β).
PMCID: PMC2632761  PMID: 19171919
Scintillation Proximity Assay; androgen receptor; high-throughput screening; endocrine disrupting chemicals; nuclear receptors
24.  Synthesis and characterization of BODIPY-labeled colchicine 
Two BODIPY-labeled colchicine derivatives were synthesized and shown to bind to tubulin but only partially inhibit tubulin polymerization in the presence of GTP. Cytotoxicity studies were carried out in HeLa, HepG2, Raji and Vero cells. Apoptosis-inducing properties were determined by caspase 3/7 activity and flow cytometry and interactions between the derivatives and tubulin were verified by fluorescence microscopy of living cells.
PMCID: PMC2631555  PMID: 18684625
25.  Inhibitors of the Interaction of Thyroid Hormone Receptor and Coactivators: Preliminary Structure–Activity Relationships 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2007;50(22):5269-5280.
The modulation of gene regulation by blocking the interaction between the thyroid receptor (TR) and obligate coregulators (CoRs) has been reported recently with discovery of the lead compound 3-(dimethylamino)-1-(4-hexylphenyl)propan-1-one). Herein we report studies aimed at optimization of this initial hit to determine the basic parameters of the structure–activity relationships (SAR) and clarify the mechanism of action. These studies provided new insights, showing that activity and TRβ isoform selectivity is highly correlated with the structural composition of these covalent inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2536611  PMID: 17918822
Thyroid hormone receptor; T3; coactivator; SRC2; high-throughput screen; protein-protein interaction; structure-activity relationship; β-aminoketone; electrophile; Mannich base; irreversible inhibitor; U2OS; ARO; PAMPA

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