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1.  Optimization of Novel Nipecotic Bis(amide) Inhibitors of the Rho/MKL1/SRF Transcriptional Pathway as Potential Anti-metastasis Agents 
CCG-1423 (1) is a novel inhibitor of Rho/MKL1/SRF-mediated gene transcription that inhibits invasion of PC-3 prostate cancer cells in a Matrigel model of metastasis. We recently reported the design and synthesis of conformationally restricted analogs (e.g. 2) with improved selectivity for inhibiting invasion vs acute cytotoxicity. In this study we conducted a survey of aromatic substitution with the goal of improving physicochemical parameters (e.g. ClogP, MW) for future efficacy studies in vivo. Two new compounds were identified that attenuated cytotoxicity even further, and were 4-fold more potent than 2 at inhibiting PC-3 cell migration in a scratch wound assay. One of these (8a, CCG-203971, IC50 = 4.2 μM) was well tolerated in mice for 5 days at 100 mg/kg/day i.p., and was able to achieve plasma levels exceeding the migration IC50 for up to 3 hours.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.04.080
PMCID: PMC3707396  PMID: 23707258
2.  Optimization of Novel Indole-2-carboxamide Inhibitors of Neurotropic Alphavirus Replication 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2013;56(22):9222-9241.
Neurotropic alphaviruses, which include western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV) and Fort Morgan virus, are mosquito-borne pathogens that infect the central nervous system causing acute and potentially fatal encephalitis. We previously reported a novel series of indole-2-carboxamides as alphavirus replication inhibitors, one of which conferred protection against neuroadapted Sindbis virus infection in mice. We describe here further development of this series resulting in 10-fold improvement in potency in a WEEV replicon assay and up to 40-fold increases in half-lives in mouse liver microsomes. Using a rhodamine123 uptake assay in MDR1-MDCKII cells we were able to identify structural modifications that markedly reduce recognition by P-glycoprotein, the key efflux transporter at the blood brain barrier. In a preliminary mouse PK study we were able to demonstrate that two new analogs could achieve higher and/or longer plasma drug exposures than our previous lead, and that one compound achieved measurable drug levels in the brain.
doi:10.1021/jm401330r
PMCID: PMC3895407  PMID: 24151954
antiviral; alphavirus; indole; central nervous system; encephalitis; RNA replication inhibitor; metabolic stability; P-glycoprotein
3.  The Role of HTS in Drug Discovery at the University of Michigan 
High throughput screening (HTS) is an integral part of a highly collaborative approach to drug discovery at the University of Michigan. The HTS lab is one of four core centers that provide services to identify, produce, screen and follow-up on biomedical targets for faculty. Key features of this system are: protein cloning and purification, protein crystallography, small molecule and siRNA HTS, medicinal chemistry and pharmacokinetics. Therapeutic areas that have been targeted include anti-bacterial, metabolic, neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, anti-cancer and anti-viral. The centers work in a coordinated, interactive environment to affordably provide academic investigators with the technology, informatics and expertise necessary for successful drug discovery. This review provides an overview of these centers at the University of Michigan, along with case examples of successful collaborations with faculty.
PMCID: PMC4166557  PMID: 24409957
4.  Novel Inhibitors of Bacterial Virulence: Development of 5,6-dihydrobenzo[h]quinazolin-4(3H)-ones for the Inhibition of Group A Streptococcal Streptokinase Expression 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2013;21(7):1880-1897.
Resistance to antibiotics is an increasingly dire threat to human health that warrants the development of new modes of treating infection. We recently identified 1 (CCG-2979) as an inhibitor of the expression of streptokinase, a critical virulence factor in Group A Streptococcus that endows blood-borne bacteria with fibrinolytic capabilities. In this report, we describe the synthesis and biological evaluation of a series of novel 5,6-dihydrobenzo[h]quinazolin-4(3H)-one analogs of 1 undertaken with the goal of improving the modest potency of the lead. In addition to achieving an over 35-fold increase in potency, we identified structural modifications that improve the solubility and metabolic stability of the scaffold. The efficacy of two new compounds 12c (CCG-203592) and 12k (CCG-205363) against biofilm formation in Staphylococcus aureus represents a promising additional mode of action for this novel class of compounds.
doi:10.1016/j.bmc.2013.01.046
PMCID: PMC3605901  PMID: 23433668
Group A Streptococcus; virulence inhibitor; antibiotic; streptokinase; antibiotic resistance; metabolic oxidation; biofilm; antivirulence
5.  Efficient, Divergent Synthesis of Cryptophycin Unit A Analogues 
A flexible and divergent synthesis of cryptophycin unit A analogues is described. This method relies on iridium-catalysed stereo- and enantioselective crotylation and chemoselective one-pot oxidative olefination to access common intermediate 8. Heck, cross metathesis, and Suzuki-Miyaura reactions are illustrated for the generation of methyl ester unit A analogues 10a-d.
doi:10.1039/c2cc32417b
PMCID: PMC3494784  PMID: 22617820
6.  Small Molecule Screening Identifies Regulators of the Transcription Factor ΔFosB 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2012;3(7):546-556.
ΔFosB protein accumulates in the striatum in response to chronic administration of drugs of abuse, L-DOPA, or stress, triggering long lasting neural and behavioral changes that underlie aspects of drug addiction, abnormal involuntary movements (dyskinesia), and depression. ΔFosB binds AP-1 DNA consensus sequences found in promoters of many genes and can both repress or activate gene transcription. In the striatum, ΔFosB is thought to dimerize with JunD to form a functional transcription factor, though strikingly JunD does not accumulate in parallel. One explanation is that ΔFosB can recruit different partners, including itself, depending on the neuron type in which it is induced and the chronic stimulus, generating protein complexes with different effects on gene transcription. To develop chemical probes to study ΔFosB, a high-throughput screen was carried out to identify small molecules that modulate ΔFosB function. Two compounds with low micromolar activity, termed C2 and C6, disrupt the binding of ΔFosB to DNA via different mechanisms, and in in vitro assays stimulate ΔFosB-mediated transcription. In cocaine-treated mice, C2 significantly elevates mRNA levels of the AMPA glutamate receptor GluR2 subunit with specificity, a known target gene of ΔFosB that plays a role in drug addiction and endogenous resilience mechanisms. C2 and C6 show different activities against ΔFosB homodimers compared to ΔFosB/JunD heterodimers, suggesting that these compounds can be used as probes to study the contribution of different ΔFosB-containing complexes on the regulation of gene transcription in biological systems and to assess the utility of ΔFosB as a therapeutic target.
doi:10.1021/cn3000235
PMCID: PMC3399579  PMID: 22860224
ΔFosB; high throughput screening; transcription factor; drug addiction; dyskinesia; depression
7.  Novel Inhibitors of Neurotropic Alphavirus Replication That Improve Host Survival in a Mouse Model of Acute Viral Encephalitis 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2012;55(7):3535-3545.
Arboviral encephalitis is a potentially devastating human disease with no approved therapies that target virus replication. We previously discovered a novel class of thieno[3,2-b]pyrrole-based inhibitors active against neurotropic alphaviruses such as western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV) in cultured cells. In this report we describe initial development of these novel antiviral compounds, including bioisosteric replacement of the 4H-thieno[3,2-b]pyrrole core with indole to improve metabolic stability and the introduction of chirality to assess target enantioselectivity. Selected modifications enhanced antiviral activity while maintaining low cytotoxicity, increased stability to microsomal metabolism, and also revealed striking enantiospecific activity in cultured cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate improved outcomes (both symptoms and survival) following treatment with indole analog 9h (CCG-203926) in an in vivo mouse model of alphaviral encephalitis that closely correlate with the enantiospecific in vitro antiviral activity. These results represent a substantial advancement in the early preclinical development of a promising class of novel antiviral drugs against virulent neurotropic alphaviruses.
doi:10.1021/jm300214e
PMCID: PMC3329717  PMID: 22428985
antiviral; alphavirus; indole; central nervous system; encephalitis; RNA replication inhibitor
8.  MScreen: An Integrated Compound Management and High Throughput Screening (HTS) Data Storage and Analysis System 
Journal of biomolecular screening  2012;17(8):1080-1087.
High-throughput screening (HTS) has historically been used by the pharmaceutical industry to rapidly test hundreds of thousands of compounds to identify potential drug candidates. More recently, academic groups have used HTS to identify new chemical probes or small interfering RNA (siRNA) that can serve as experimental tools to examine the biology or physiology of novel proteins, processes, or interactions. HTS presents a significant challenge with the vast and complex nature of data generated. This report describes MScreen, a web-based, open-source cheminformatics application for chemical library and siRNA plate management, primary HTS and dose-response data handling, structure search, and administrative functions. Each project in MScreen can be secured with passwords or shared in an open information environment which enables collaborators to easily compare data from many screens, providing a useful means to identify compounds with desired selectivity. Unique features include compound, substance, mixture, and siRNA plate creation and formatting; automated dose-response fitting and quality control (QC); and user, target, and assay method administration. MScreen provides an effective means to facilitate HTS information handling and analysis in the academic setting so that users can efficiently view their screening data and evaluate results for follow-up.
doi:10.1177/1087057112450186
PMCID: PMC3600606  PMID: 22706349
chemoinformatics; data analysis software; open source; high-throughput screening
9.  Novel Inhibitors of Staphylococcus aureus Virulence Gene Expression and Biofilm Formation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47255.
Staphylococcus aureus is a major human pathogen and one of the more prominent pathogens causing biofilm related infections in clinic. Antibiotic resistance in S. aureus such as methicillin resistance is approaching an epidemic level. Antibiotic resistance is widespread among major human pathogens and poses a serious problem for public health. Conventional antibiotics are either bacteriostatic or bacteriocidal, leading to strong selection for antibiotic resistant pathogens. An alternative approach of inhibiting pathogen virulence without inhibiting bacterial growth may minimize the selection pressure for resistance. In previous studies, we identified a chemical series of low molecular weight compounds capable of inhibiting group A streptococcus virulence following this alternative anti-microbial approach. In the current study, we demonstrated that two analogs of this class of novel anti-virulence compounds also inhibited virulence gene expression of S. aureus and exhibited an inhibitory effect on S. aureus biofilm formation. This class of anti-virulence compounds could be a starting point for development of novel anti-microbial agents against S. aureus.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047255
PMCID: PMC3471953  PMID: 23077578
10.  Use of Enterally Delivered Angiotensin II Type Ia Receptor Antagonists to Reduce the Severity of Colitis 
Digestive diseases and sciences  2011;56(9):2553-2565.
Background
Renin-angiotensin system blockade reduces inflammation in several organ systems. Having found a fourfold increase in angiotensin II type Ia receptor expression in a dextran sodium sulfate colitis model, we targeted blockade with angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonists to prevent colitis development. Because hypotension is a major complication of angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonists use, we hypothesized that use of angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonists compounds which lack cell membrane permeability, and thus enteric absorption, would allow for direct enteral delivery at far higher concentrations than would be tolerated systemically, yet retain efficacy.
Methods
Based on the structure of the angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonist losartan, deschloro-losartan was synthesized, which has extremely poor cell membrane permeability. Angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonist efficacy was evaluated by determining the ability to block NF-κB activation in vitro. Dextran sodium sulfate colitis was induced in mice and angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonist efficacy delivered transanally was assessed.
Results
In vitro, deschloro-losartan demonstrated near equal angiotensin II type Ia receptor blockade compared to losartan as well as another angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonist, candesartan. In the dextran sodium sulfate model, each compound significantly improved clinical and histologic scores and epithelial cell apoptosis. Abundance of TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL6 mRNA were significantly decreased with each compound. In vitro and in vivo intestinal drug absorption, as well as measures of blood pressure and mucosal and colonic blood flow, showed significantly lower uptake of deschloro-losartan compared to losartan and candesartan.
Conclusions
This study demonstrated efficacy of high-dose angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonists in this colitis model. We postulate that a specially designed angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonist with poor oral absorption may have great potential as a new therapeutic agent for inflammatory bowel disease in the future.
doi:10.1007/s10620-011-1651-9
PMCID: PMC3163034  PMID: 21399927
Angiotensin II type Ia receptor; Dextran sodium sulfate; Colitis; Angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonist; Nuclear factor κB
11.  Complementary Cell-Based High Throughput Screens Identify Novel Modulators of the Unfolded Protein Response 
Journal of Biomolecular Screening  2011;16(8):825-835.
Despite advances toward understanding the prevention and treatment of many cancers, patients who suffer from oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) confront a survival rate that has remained unimproved for more than two decades indicating our ability to treat them pharmacologically has reached a plateau. In an ongoing effort to improve the clinical outlook for this disease, we previously reported that an essential component of the mechanism by which the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib (PS-341, Velcade) induced apoptosis in OSCC required the activation of a terminal unfolded protein response (UPR). Predicated on these studies, we hypothesized that high throughput screening (HTS) of large diverse chemical libraries might identify more potent or selective small molecule activators of the apoptotic arm of the UPR to control or kill OSCC. We have developed complementary cell-based assays using stably transfected CHO-K1 cell lines that individually assess the PERK/eIF2α/CHOP (apoptotic) or the IRE1/XBP1 (adaptive) UPR sub-pathways. A ~66K compound collection was screened at the University of Michigan Center for Chemical Genomics that included a unique library of pre-fractionated natural product extracts. The mycotoxin methoxycitrinin was isolated from a natural extract and found to selectively activate the CHOP-luciferase reporter at 80μM. A series of citrinin derivatives were isolated from these extracts, including a unique congener that has not been previously described. In an effort to identify more potent compounds we examined the ability of citrinin and the structurally related mycotoxins ochratoxin A and patulin to activate the UPR. Strikingly, we found that patulin at 2.5 – 10μM induced a terminal UPR in a panel of OSCC cells that was characterized by an increase in CHOP, GADD34 and ATF3 gene expression and XBP1 splicing. A luminescent caspase assay and the induction of several BH3-only genes indicated that patulin could induce apoptosis in OSCC cells. These data support the use of this complementary HTS strategy to identify novel modulators of UPR signaling and tumor cell death.
doi:10.1177/1087057111414893
PMCID: PMC3374590  PMID: 21844328
unfolded protein response; endoplasmic reticulum stress; cell-based assay; luciferase reporter; natural products
12.  Design, synthesis and prostate cancer cell-based studies of analogs of the Rho/MKL1 transcriptional pathway inhibitor, CCG-1423 
We recently identified bis(amide) CCG-1423 (1) as a novel inhibitor of RhoA/C-mediated gene transcription that is capable of inhibiting invasion of PC-3 prostate cancer cells in a Matrigel model of metastasis. An initial structure-activity relationship study focusing on bioisosteric replacement of the amides and conformational restriction identified two compounds, 4g and 8, with improved selectivity for inhibition of RhoA/C-mediated gene transcription and attenuated cytotoxcity relative to 1. Both compounds were also capable of inhibiting cell invasion with equal efficacy to 1 but with less attendant cytotoxicity.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2009.11.056
PMCID: PMC2818594  PMID: 19963382
13.  Identification of Thieno[3,2-b]Pyrrole Derivatives as Novel Small Molecule Inhibitors of Neurotropic Alphaviruses 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2009;199(7):950-957.
Neurotropic alphaviruses such as western, eastern, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis viruses cause serious and potentially fatal central nervous system infections in humans and are high-priority potential bioterrorism agents. There are currently no widely available vaccines or licensed therapies for these virulent pathogens. To identify potential novel antiviral drugs, we developed a cell-based assay with a western equine encephalitis virus replicon that expresses a luciferase reporter gene and screened a small molecule diversity library of 51,028 compounds. We identified and validated a thieno[3,2-b]pyrrole compound with a half maximal inhibitory concentration of <10 µmol/L, a selectivity index >20, and potent activity against live virus in cultured neuronal cells. Furthermore, a structure-activity relationship analysis with 20 related compounds identified several with enhanced activity profiles, including 6 with submicromolar half maximal inhibitory concentrations. In conclusion, we have identified a novel class of promising inhibitors with potent activity against virulent neurotropic alphaviruses.
doi:10.1086/597275
PMCID: PMC2788236  PMID: 19239364

Results 1-13 (13)