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1.  Identification of Drug Modulators Targeting Gene-Dosage Disease CMT1A 
ACS Chemical Biology  2012;7(7):1205-1213.
The structural integrity of myelin formed by Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) is required for proper nerve conduction and is dependent on adequate expression of myelin genes including peripheral myelin protein 22 (PMP22). Consequently, excess PMP22 resulting from its genetic duplication and overexpression has been directly associated with the peripheral neuropathy called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1A (CMT1A), the most prevalent type of CMT. Here, in an attempt to identify transcriptional inhibitors with therapeutic value towards CMT1A, we developed a cross-validating pair of orthogonal reporter - firefly luciferase (FLuc) and β-lactamase (βLac) - assays capable of recapitulating PMP22 expression, utilizing the intronic regulatory element of the human PMP22 gene. Each compound from a collection of approximately 3,000 approved drugs was tested at multiple titration points to achieve a pharmacological endpoint in a 1536-well plate quantitative high-throughput screen (qHTS) format. In conjunction with an independent counter-screen for cytotoxicity, the design of our orthogonal screen platform effectively contributed to selection and prioritization of active compounds, among which three drugs (fenretinide, olvanil, and bortezomib) exhibited marked reduction of endogenous Pmp22 mRNA and protein. Overall, the findings of this study provide a strategic approach to assay development for gene-dosage diseases such as CMT1A.
PMCID: PMC3401360  PMID: 22530759
2.  Profile of the GSK Published Protein Kinase Inhibitor Set Across ATP-Dependent and-Independent Luciferases: Implications for Reporter-Gene Assays 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e57888.
A library of 367 protein kinase inhibitors, the GSK Published Kinase Inhibitor Set (PKIS), which has been annotated for protein kinase family activity and is available for public screening efforts, was assayed against the commonly used luciferase reporter enzymes from the firefly, Photinus pyralis (FLuc) and marine sea pansy, Renilla reniformis (RLuc). A total of 22 compounds (∼6% of the library) were found to inhibit FLuc with 10 compounds showing potencies ≤1 µM. Only two compounds were found to inhibit RLuc, and these showed relatively weak potency values (∼10 µM). An inhibitor series of the VEGFR2/TIE2 protein kinase family containing either an aryl oxazole or benzimidazole-urea core illustrate the different structure activity relationship profiles FLuc inhibitors can display for kinase inhibitor chemotypes. Several FLuc inhibitors were broadly active toward the tyrosine kinase and CDK families. These data should aid in interpreting the results derived from screens employing the GSK PKIS in cell-based assays using the FLuc reporter. The study also underscores the general need for strategies such as the use of orthogonal reporters to identify kinase or non-kinase mediated cellular responses.
PMCID: PMC3591448  PMID: 23505445
3.  Titration-based screening for evaluation of natural product extracts: identification of an aspulvinone family of luciferase inhibitors 
Chemistry & biology  2011;18(11):1442-1452.
The chemical diversity of nature has tremendous potential for discovery of new molecular probes and medicinal agents. However, sensitivity of HTS assays to interfering components of crude extracts derived from plants, macro- and microorganisms has curtailed their use in lead discovery efforts. Here we describe a process for leveraging the concentration-response curves (CRCs) obtained from quantitative HTS to improve the initial selection of “actives” from a library of partially fractionated natural product extracts derived from marine actinomycetes and fungi. By using pharmacological activity, the first-pass CRC paradigm aims to improve the probability that labor-intensive subsequent steps of re-culturing, extraction and bioassay-guided isolation of active component(s) target the most promising strains and growth conditions. We illustrate how this process identified a family of fungal metabolites as potent inhibitors of firefly luciferase, subsequently resolved in molecular detail by x-ray crystallography.
PMCID: PMC3225805  PMID: 22118678
4.  Monitoring compound integrity with cytochrome P450 assays and qHTS 
Journal of biomolecular screening  2009;14(5):538-546.
We describe how room temperature storage of a 1,120 member compound library prepared in either DMSO or in a hydrated DMSO/water (67/33) mixture affects the reproducibility of potency values as monitored using cytochrome P450 1A2 and 2D6 isozyme assays. The bioluminescent assays showed Z′-factors of 0.71 and 0.62, with 18% and 32% of the library found as active against the CYP 1A2 and 2D6 isozymes respectively. We tested the library using quantitative high-throughput screening to generate potency values for every library member which was measured at seven time intervals spanning 37 weeks. We calculated the minimum significant ratio (MSR) from these potency values at each time interval and we found that for the library stored in DMSO, the CYP 1A2 and 2D6 assay MSRs progressed from approximately 2.0 to 5.0. The hydrated conditions showed similar performance in both MSR progression and analytical QC results. Based on this study we recommend that DMSO samples be stored in 1,536-well plates for < 4 months at room temperature. Further, the study shows the magnitude of potency changes that can occur in a robust bioassay due to compound sample storage.
PMCID: PMC3430136  PMID: 19483146
HTS; compound storage; DMSO; quantitative HTS
5.  Comparison of Bioluminescent Kinase Assays Using Substrate Depletion and Product Formation 
Assays for ATPases have been enabled for high-throughput screening (HTS) by employing firefly luciferase to detect the remaining ATP in the assay. However, for any enzyme assay, measurement of product formation is a more sensitive assay design. Recently, technologies that allow detection of the ADP product from ATPase reactions have been described using fluorescent methods of detection. We describe here the characterization of a bioluminescent assay that employs firefly luciferase in a coupled-enzyme assay format to enable detection of ADP levels from ATPase assays (ADP-Glo®, Promega Corp.). We determined the performance of the ADP-Glo assay in 1,536-well microtiter plates using the protein kinase Clk4 and a 1,352 member kinase focused combinatorial library. The ADP-Glo assay was compared to the Clk4 assay performed using a bioluminescence ATP-depletion format (Kinase-Glo™, Promega Corp). We performed this analysis using quantitative HTS (qHTS) where we determined potency values for all library members and identified ∼300 compounds with potencies ranging from as low as 50 nM to >10 µM, yielding a robust dataset for the comparison. Both assay formats showed high performance (Z′-factors ∼0.9) and showed a similar potency distribution for the actives. We conclude that the bioluminescence ADP detection assay system is a viable generic alternative to the widely used ATP-depletion assay for ATPases and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches.
PMCID: PMC3096547  PMID: 20059377
6.  A Quantitative High-Throughput Screen for Modulators of IL-6 Signaling: A Model for Interrogating Biological Networks using Chemical Libraries 
Molecular bioSystems  2009;5(9):1039-1050.
Small molecule modulators are critical for dissecting and understanding signaling pathways at the molecular level. Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is a cytokine that signals via the JAK/STAT pathway and is implicated in cancer and inflammation. To identify modulators of this pathway, we screened a chemical collection against an IL-6 responsive cell line stably expressing a beta-lactamase reporter gene fused to a sis-inducible element (SIE-bla cells). This assay was optimized for a 1536-well microplate format and screened against 11,693 small molecules using quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS), a method that assays a chemical library at multiple concentrations to generate titration-response profiles for each compound. The qHTS recovered 564 actives with well-fit curves that clustered into 32 distinct chemical series of 13 activators and 19 inhibitors. A retrospective analysis of the qHTS data indicated that single concentration data at 1.5 and 7.7 uM scored 35 and 71% of qHTS actives, respectively, as inactive and were therefore false negatives. Following counter screens to identify fluorescent and nonselective series, we found four activator and one inhibitor series that modulated SIE-bla cells but did not show similar activity in reporter gene assays induced by EGF and hypoxia. Small molecules within these series will make useful tool compounds to investigate IL-6 signaling mediated by JAK/STAT activation.
PMCID: PMC2747079  PMID: 19668870
IL-6; small molecule; HTS; STAT; assay
7.  Identification of Pregnane X Receptor Ligands Using Time-Resolved Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer and Quantitative High-Throughput Screening 
The human pregnane X nuclear receptor (PXR) is a xenobiotic-regulated receptor that is activated by a range of diverse chemicals, including antibiotics, antifungals, glucocorticoids, and herbal extracts. PXR has been characterized as an important receptor in the metabolism of xenobiotics due to induction of cytochrome P450 isozymes and activation by a large number of prescribed medications. Developing methodologies that can efficiently detect PXR ligands will be clinically beneficial to avoid potential drug–drug interactions. To facilitate the identification of PXR ligands, a time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET) assay was miniaturized to a 1,536-well microtiter plate format to employ quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS). The optimized 1,536-well TR-FRET assay showed Z′-factors of ≥0.5. Seven- to 15-point concentration–response curves (CRCs) were generated for 8,280 compounds using both terbium and fluorescein emission data, resulting in the generation of 241,664 data points. The qHTS method allowed us to retrospectively examine single concentration screening datasets to assess the sensitivity and selectivity of the PXR assay at different compound screening concentrations. Furthermore, nonspecific assay artifacts such as concentration-based quenching of the terbium signal and compound fluorescence were identified through the examination of CRCs for specific emission channels. The CRC information was also used to define chemotypes associated with PXR ligands. This study demonstrates the feasibility of profiling thousands of compounds against PXR using the TR-FRET assay in a high-throughput format.
PMCID: PMC3116688  PMID: 19505231
8.  A Miniaturized Glucocorticoid Receptor Translocation Assay using Enzymatic Fragment Complementation Evaluated with qHTS 
Nuclear translocation is an important step in glucocorticoid receptor (GR) signaling and assays that measure this process allow the identification of nuclear receptor ligands independent of subsequent functional effects. To facilitate the identification of GR-translocation agonists, an enzyme fragment complementation (EFC) cell-based assay was scaled to a 1536-well plate format to evaluate 9,920 compounds using a quantitative high throughput screening (qHTS) strategy where compounds are assayed at multiple concentrations. In contrast to conventional assays of nuclear translocation the qHTS assay described here was enabled on a standard luminescence microplate reader precluding the requirement for imaging methods. The assay uses beta-galactosidase alpha complementation to indirectly detect GR-translocation in CHO-K1 cells [Fung, P., et al. Assay Drug Devel. Technol. 2006, 4(3): 263–272]. 1536-well assay miniaturization included the elimination of a media aspiration step, and the optimized assay displayed a Z′ of 0.55. qHTS yielded EC50 values for all 9,920 compounds and allowed us to retrospectively examine the dataset as a single concentration-based screen to estimate the number of false positives and negatives at typical activity thresholds. For example, at a 9 μM screening concentration the assay showed an accuracy that is comparable to typical cell-based assays as judged by the occurrence of false positives that we determined to be 1.3% or 0.3%, for a 3σ or 6σ threshold, respectively. This corresponds to a confirmation rate of ~30% or ~50%, respectively. The assay was consistent with glucocorticoid pharmacology as scaffolds with close similarity to dexamethasone were identified as active, while, for example, steroids that act as ligands to other nuclear receptors such as the estrogen receptor were found to be inactive.
PMCID: PMC2654417  PMID: 18694391
qHTS; HTS; EFC; PubChem; glucocorticoid receptor; nuclear translocation; suspension cells

Results 1-8 (8)