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1.  Reversible Inhibitors of Regulators of G-protein Signaling Identified in a High-throughput Cell-based Calcium Signaling Assay 
Cellular signalling  2013;25(12):10.1016/j.cellsig.2013.09.007.
Regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS) proteins potently suppress G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) signal transduction by accelerating GTP hydrolysis on activated heterotrimeric G-protein α subunits. RGS4 is enriched in the CNS and is proposed as a therapeutic target for treatment of neuropathological states including epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, identification of novel RGS4 inhibitors is of interest. An HEK293-FlpIn cell-line stably expressing M3-muscarinic receptor with Doxycycline-regulated RGS4 expression was employed to identify compounds that inhibit RGS4-mediated suppression of M3-muscarinic receptor signaling. Over 300,000 compounds were screened for an ability to enhance Gαq-mediated calcium signaling in the presence of RGS4. Compounds that modulated the calcium response in a counter-screen in the absence of RGS4 were not pursued. Of the 1,365 RGS4-dependent primary screen hits, thirteen compounds directly target the RGS-G-protein interaction in purified systems. All thirteen compounds lose activity against an RGS4 mutant lacking cysteines, indicating that covalent modification of free thiol groups on RGS4 is a common mechanism. Four compounds produce >85% inhibition of RGS4-G-protein binding at 100 μM, yet are >50% reversible within a ten-minute time frame. The four reversible compounds significantly alter the thermal melting temperature of RGS4, but not G-protein, indicating that inhibition is occurring through interaction with the RGS protein. The HEK cell-line employed for this study provides a powerful tool for efficiently identifying RGS-specific modulators within the context of a GPCR signaling pathway. As a result, several new reversible, cell-active RGS4 inhibitors have been identified for use in future biological studies.
PMCID: PMC3848259  PMID: 24041654
G-protein coupled receptors; M3 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor; Regulator of G-protein signaling; Small molecule inhibitor; High-throughput screen
2.  Hi-Fi transmission of periodic signals amid cell-to-cell variability 
Molecular bioSystems  2011;7(7):2238-2244.
Since information in intracellular calcium signaling is often frequency encoded, it is physiologically critical and experimentally useful to have reliable, convenient, and non-invasive methods to entrain it. Because of cell-to-cell variability, synchronization of intracellular signaling across a population of genetically identical cells can still be difficult to achieve. For intrinsically oscillatory signaling pathways, such as calcium, upon continuous stimulation, cell-to-cell variability is manifested as differences in intracellular response frequencies. Even with entrainment using periodic stimulation, cell-to-cell variability is manifested as differences in the fidelity with which extracellular inputs are converted into intracellular signals. Here we present a combined theoretical and experimental analysis that shows how to appropriately balance stimulation strength, duration, and rest intervals to achieve entrainment with high fidelity stimulation-to-response ratios for G-protein-coupled receptor-triggered intracellular calcium oscillations. We further demonstrate that stimulation parameters that give high fidelity entrainment are significantly altered upon changes in intracellular enzyme levels and cell surface receptor levels. Theoretical analysis suggests that, at key threshold values, even small changes in these protein concentrations or activities can results in precipitous changes in entrainment fidelity, with implications for pathophysiology.
PMCID: PMC4449260  PMID: 21559542
3.  FBXO44-Mediated Degradation of RGS2 Protein Uniquely Depends on a Cullin 4B/DDB1 Complex 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0123581.
The ubiquitin-proteasome system for protein degradation plays a major role in regulating cell function and many signaling proteins are tightly controlled by this mechanism. Among these, Regulator of G Protein Signaling 2 (RGS2) is a target for rapid proteasomal degradation, however, the specific enzymes involved are not known. Using a genomic siRNA screening approach, we identified a novel E3 ligase complex containing cullin 4B (CUL4B), DNA damage binding protein 1 (DDB1) and F-box protein 44 (FBXO44) that mediates RGS2 protein degradation. While the more typical F-box partners CUL1 and Skp1 can bind FBXO44, that E3 ligase complex does not bind RGS2 and is not involved in RGS2 degradation. These observations define an unexpected DDB1/CUL4B-containing FBXO44 E3 ligase complex. Pharmacological targeting of this mechanism provides a novel therapeutic approach to hypertension, anxiety, and other diseases associated with RGS2 dysregulation.
PMCID: PMC4430315  PMID: 25970626
4.  Gαi2 signaling: friend or foe in cardiac injury and heart failure? 
Receptors coupled to G proteins have many effects on the heart. Enhanced signaling by Gαs and Gαq leads to cardiac injury and heart failure, while Gαi2 signaling in cardiac myocytes can protect against ischemic injury and β-adrenergic-induced heart failure. We asked whether enhanced Gαi2 signaling in mice could protect against heart failure using a point mutation in Gαi2 (G184S), which prevents negative regulation by regulators of G protein signaling. Contrary to our expectation, it worsened effects of a genetic dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and catecholamine-induced cardiac injury. Gαi2G184S/+/DCM double heterozygote mice (TG9+Gαi2G184S/+) had substantially decreased survival compared to DCM animals. Furthermore, heart weight/body weight ratios (HW/BW) were significantly greater in TG9+Gαi2G184S/+ mice as was expression of natriuretic peptide genes. Catecholamine injury in Gαi2G184S/G184S mutant mice produced markedly increased isoproterenol-induced fibrosis and collagen III gene expression vs WT mice. Cardiac fibroblasts from Gαi2G184S/G184S mice also showed a serum-dependent increase in proliferation and ERK phosphorylation, which were blocked by pertussis toxin and a mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase inhibitor. Gαi2 signaling in cardiac myocytes protects against ischemic injury but enhancing Gαi2 signaling overall may have detrimental effects in heart failure, perhaps through actions on cardiac fibroblasts.
PMCID: PMC4411561  PMID: 22411356
Gαi2; RGS; Cardiac fibroblasts; Isoproterenol; Angiotensin
5.  Redox modification of nuclear actin by MICAL-2 regulates SRF signaling 
Cell  2014;156(3):563-576.
The serum response factor (SRF) binds to coactivators, such as myocardin-related transcription factor-A (MRTF-A), and mediates gene transcription elicited by diverse signaling pathways. SRF/MRTF-A-dependent gene transcription is activated when nuclear MRTF-A levels increase, enabling the formation of transcriptionally active SRF/MRTF-A complexes. The level of nuclear MRTF-A is regulated by nuclear G-actin, which binds to MRTF-A and promotes its nuclear export. However, pathways that regulate nuclear actin levels are poorly understood. Here we show that MICAL-2, an atypical actin-regulatory protein, mediates SRF/MRTF-A-dependent gene transcription elicited by nerve growth factor and serum. MICAL-2 induces redox-dependent depolymerization of nuclear actin, which decreases nuclear G-actin and increases MRTF-A in the nucleus. Furthermore, we show that MICAL-2 is a target of CCG-1423, a small molecule inhibitor of SRF/MRTF-A-dependent transcription that exhibits efficacy in various preclinical disease models. These data identify redox modification of nuclear actin as a regulatory switch that mediates SRF/MRTF-A-dependent gene transcription.
PMCID: PMC4384661  PMID: 24440334
6.  Toll-like receptor-induced inflammatory cytokines are suppressed by Gain of function or overexpression of Gαi2 protein 
Inflammation  2012;35(5):1611-1617.
Previous studies have implicated a role of Gαi proteins as co-regulators of Toll –like receptor (TLR) activation. These studies largely derived from examining the effect of Gαi protein inhibitors or genetic deletion of Gαi proteins. However the effect of increased Gαi protein function or Gαi protein expression on TLR activation has not been investigated. We hypothesized that gain of function or increased expression of Gαi proteins suppresses TLR2 and TLR4 -induced inflammatory cytokines. Novel transgenic mice with genomic “knock-in” of a Regulator of G-protein Signaling (RGS)-insensitive Gnai2 allele (Gαi2 G184S/G184S; GS/GS) were employed. These mice express essentially normal levels of Gαi2 protein, however the Gαi2 is insensitive to its negative regulator RGS thus rendering more sustained Gαi2 protein activation following ligand/receptor binding. In subsequent studies, we generated Raw 264.7 cells that stably overexpress Gαi2 protein (Raw Gαi2). Peritoneal macrophages, splenocytes and mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) were isolated from WT and GS/GS mice and were stimulated with LPS, Pam3CSK4 or Poly (I:C). We also subjected WT and GS/GS mice to endotoxic shock (LPS 25mg/kg i.p.) and plasma TNFα and IL-6 production were determined. We found that in vitro LPS and Pam3CSK4 induced TNFα and IL-6 production are decreased in macrophages from GS/GS mice compared with WT mice (p<0.05). In vitro LPS and Pam3CSK4 induced IL-6 production in splenocytes and in vivo LPS induced IL-6 were suppressed in GS/GS mice. Poly (I:C) induced TNFα and IL-6 in vitro demonstrated no difference between GS/GS mice and WT mice. LPS induced IL-6 production was inhibited in MEFs from GS/GS mice similarly to macrophage and splenocytes. In parallel studies, Raw Gαi2 cells also exhibit decreased TNFα and IL-6 production in response to LPS and Pam3CSK4. These studies support our hypothesis that Gαi2 proteins are novel negative regulators of TLR activation.
PMCID: PMC3563060  PMID: 22581266
Gαi protein; TLR signaling; LPS; endotoxemia; inflammatory cytokines
7.  Conformational Dynamics of a Regulator of G-protein Signaling Protein Reveals a Mechanism of Allosteric Inhibition by a Small Molecule 
ACS chemical biology  2013;8(12):10.1021/cb400568g.
Regulators of G protein signaling (RGS) proteins are key players in regulating signaling via G protein-coupled receptors. RGS proteins directly bind to the Gα-subunits of activated heterotrimeric G-proteins, and accelerate the rate of GTP hydrolysis, thereby rapidly deactivating G-proteins. Using atomistic simulations and NMR spectroscopy, we have studied in molecular detail the mechanism of action of CCG-50014, a potent small molecule inhibitor of RGS4 which covalently binds to cysteine residues on RGS4. We apply temperature-accelerated molecular dynamics (TAMD) to carry out enhanced conformational sampling of apo RGS4 structures, and consistently find that the α5-α6 helix pair of RGS4 can spontaneously span open-like conformations, allowing binding of CCG-50014 to the buried side-chain of Cys95. Both NMR experiments and MD simulations reveal chemical shift perturbations in residues in the vicinity of inhibitor binding site as well as in the RGS4-Gα binding interface. Consistent with a loss of G-protein binding, GAP activity, and allosteric mechanism of action of CCG-50014, our simulations of the RGS4-Gα complex in the presence of inhibitor suggest a relatively unstable protein-protein interaction. These results have potential implications for understanding how the conformational dynamics among RGS proteins may play a key role in the sensitivity of inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3876963  PMID: 24093330
8.  A nanomolar potency small molecule inhibitor of Regulator of G protein Signaling (RGS) proteins† 
Biochemistry  2011;50(15):3181-3192.
Regulators of G-Protein signaling (RGS) proteins are potent negative modulators of signal transduction through G-Protein coupled receptors. They function by binding to activated (GTP-bound) Gα subunits and accelerating the rate of GTP hydrolysis. Modulation of RGS activity by small molecules is an attractive mechanism to fine-tune GPCR signaling for therapeutic and research purposes. Here we describe the pharmacologic properties and mechanism of action of CCG-50014, the most potent small molecule RGS inhibitor to date. It has an IC50 for RGS4 of 30 nM and is >20-fold selective for RGS4 over other RGS proteins. CCG-50014 binds covalently to the RGS, forming an adduct on two cysteine residues located in an allosteric regulatory site. It is not a general cysteine alkylator as it does not inhibit activity of the cysteine protease papain at concentrations >3,000 fold higher than those required to inhibit RGS4 function. It is also >1,000-fold more potent as an RGS4 inhibitor than are the cysteine alkylators N-ethylmaleimide or iodoacetamide. Analysis of the cysteine reactivity of the compound shows that compound binding to Cys107 in RGS8 inhibits Gα- binding in a manner that can be reversed by cleavage of the compound-RGS disulfide bond. If the compound reacts with Cys160 in RGS8, the adduct induces RGS denaturation and activity cannot be restored by compound removal. The high potency and good selectivity of CCG-50014 make it a useful tool for studying the functional roles of RGS4.
PMCID: PMC3090679  PMID: 21329361
RGS protein; Small molecule protein-protein interaction inhibitor; GPCR
9.  Microfluidic interrogation and mathematical modeling of multi-regime calcium signaling dynamics 
Through microfluidic interrogation we analyzed real-time calcium responses of HEK293 cells stimulated with short pulses of the M3 muscarinic receptor ligand carbachol in two different concentration regimes. Lower ligand concentrations elicit oscillatory calcium signals while higher concentrations trigger a rapid rise that eventually settles down at a steady-state slightly above pre-stimulus levels, referred to as an acute signal. Cells were periodically pulsed with carbachol at these two concentration regimes using a custom-made microfluidic platform, and the resulting calcium signals were measured with a single fluorescent readout. Pulsed stimulations at these two concentration regimes resulted in multiple types of response patterns that each delivered complementary information about the M3 muscarinic receptor signaling pathway. These multiple types of calcium response patterns enabled development of a comprehensive mathematical model of multi-regime calcium signaling. The resulting model suggests that dephosphorylation of deactivated receptors is rate limiting for recovery of calcium signals in the acute regime (high ligand concentration), while calcium replenishment and IP3 production determine signal recovery in the oscillatory regime (low ligand concentration). This study not only provides mechanistic insight into multi-regime signaling of the M3 muscarinic receptor pathway, but also provides a general strategy for analyzing multi-regime pathways using only one fluorescent readout.
PMCID: PMC3704220  PMID: 23732791
10.  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.
PMCID: PMC3707396  PMID: 23707258
11.  Use of Flow Cytometric Methods to Quantify Protein-Protein Interactions 
A method is described for the quantitative analysis of protein-protein interactions using the Flow Cytometry Protein Interaction Assay (FCPIA). This method is based upon immobilizing protein on a polystyrene bead, incubating these beads with a fluorescently labeled binding partner, and assessing the sample for bead-associated fluorescence in a flow cytometer. This method can be used to calculate protein-protein interaction affinities or to perform competition experiments with unlabeled binding partners or small molecules. Examples described in this protocol highlight the use of this assay in the quantification of the affinity of binding partners of the Regulator of G-Protein Signaling protein, RGS19, in either a saturation or competition format. An adaptation of this method that is compatible for High Throughput screening is also provided.
PMCID: PMC2849137  PMID: 20069525
RGS; G protein; Protein-Protein Interaction; FCPIA; High Throughput Screening; Multiplexing
12.  Conditional disruption of interactions between Gαi2 and regulator of G protein signaling (RGS) proteins protects the heart from ischemic injury 
Regulator of G protein signaling (RGS) proteins suppress G protein coupled receptor signaling by catalyzing the hydrolysis of Gα-bound guanine nucleotide triphosphate. Transgenic mice in which RGS-mediated regulation of Gαi2 is lost (RGS insensitive Gαi2G184S) exhibit beneficial (protection against ischemic injury) and detrimental (enhanced fibrosis) cardiac phenotypes. This mouse model has revealed the physiological significance of RGS/Gαi2 interactions. Previous studies of the Gαi2G184S mutation used mice that express this mutant protein throughout their lives. Thus, it is unclear whether these phenotypes result from chronic or acute Gαi2G184S expression. We addressed this issue by developing mice that conditionally express Gαi2G184S.
Mice that conditionally express RGS insensitive Gαi2G184S were generated using a floxed minigene strategy. Conditional expression of Gαi2G184S was characterized by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and by enhancement of agonist-induced inhibition of cAMP production in isolated cardiac fibroblasts. The impact of conditional RGS insensitive Gαi2G184S expression on ischemic injury was assessed by measuring contractile recovery and infarct sizes in isolated hearts subjected to 30 min ischemia and 2 hours reperfusion.
We demonstrate tamoxifen-dependent expression of Gαi2G184S, enhanced inhibition of cAMP production, and cardioprotection from ischemic injury in hearts conditionally expressing Gαi2G184S. Thus the cardioprotective phenotype previously reported in mice expressing Gαi2G184S does not require embryonic or chronic Gαi2G184S expression. Rather, cardioprotection occurs following acute (days rather than months) expression of Gαi2G184S.
These data suggest that RGS proteins might provide new therapeutic targets to protect the heart from ischemic injury. We anticipate that this model will be valuable for understanding the time course (chronic versus acute) and mechanisms of other phenotypic changes that occur following disruption of interactions between Gαi2 and RGS proteins.
PMCID: PMC4059092  PMID: 24899231
G protein coupled receptors; Ischemia-reperfusion; Cre-LoxP; Mutation; cAMP inhibition; Regulator of G protein signaling; RGS
13.  Novel Peptide Ligands of RGS4 from a Focused One-Bead, One-Compound Library 
Chemical biology & drug design  2008;72(2):111-119.
Regulators of G Protein Signaling (RGS) accelerate GTP hydrolysis by Gα subunits and profoundly inhibit signaling by G protein-coupled receptors. The distinct expression patterns and pathophysiologic regulation of RGS proteins suggest that inhibitors may have therapeutic potential. We previously reported the design, mechanistic evaluation and structure-activity relationships (SAR) of a disulfide-containing cyclic peptide inhibitor of RGS4, YJ34 (Ac-Val-Lys-c[Cys-Thr-Gly-Ile-Cys]-Glu-NH2, S-S) (Roof, et al. Chem Biol Drug Des 2006; 67:266-274). Using a focused one-bead, one-compound (OBOC) peptide library that contains features known to be necessary for the activity of YJ34, we now identify peptides that bind to RGS4. Six peptides showed confirmed binding to RGS4 by flow cytometry. Two analogs of peptide 2, (Gly-Thr-c[Cys-Phe-Gly-Thr-Cys]-Trp-NH2, S-S with a free or acetylated N-terminus) inhibited RGS4-stimulated Gαo GTPase activity at 25–50 μM. They selectively inhibit RGS4 but not RGS7, RGS16 and RGS19. Their inhibition of RGS4 does not depend on cysteine-modification of RGS4, as they do not lose activity when all cysteines are removed from RGS4. Peptide 2 has been modeled to fit in the same binding pocket predicted for YJ34 but in the reverse orientation.
PMCID: PMC2917810  PMID: 18637987
One-Bead; One-Compound Library (OBOC); Focused library; Regulators of G-Protein Signaling (RGS); Protein-protein interaction (PPI) inhibitors; Structure-activity relationship (SAR)
14.  Polyplexed FCPIA (Flow Cytometry Protein Interaction Assay): A Novel High Throughput Screening Paradigm For RGS Protein Inhibitors 
Journal of biomolecular screening  2009;14(6):610-619.
Intracellular signaling cascades are a series of regulated protein-protein interactions that may provide a number of targets for potential drug discovery. Here, we examine the interaction of Regulators of G protein signaling (RGS) proteins with the G protein Gαo, using a flow cytometry protein interaction assay (FCPIA). FCPIA accurately measures nanomolar binding constants of this protein-protein interaction, and has been used in high throughput screening. This report focuses on five RGS proteins (4, 6, 7, 8 and 16). In order to increase the content of screens, we assessed high throughput screening of these RGS proteins in multiplex, by establishing binding constants of each RGS with Gαo in isolation, and then in a multiplex format with five RGS proteins present. In order to use this methodology as a higher-content multiplex protein-protein interaction screen, we established Z' factor values for RGS proteins in multiplex of 0.73 to 0.92, indicating this method is suitable for screening using FCPIA. To increase throughput, we also compressed a set of 8,000 compounds by combining 4 compounds in a single assay well. Subsequent deconvolution of the compounds mixtures verified the identification of active compounds at specific RGS targets in our mixtures using the polyplexed FCPIA method.
PMCID: PMC2908316  PMID: 19531661
G protein; RGS; Flow Cytometry; FCPIA; High throughput screening
15.  Gain-of-function mutation in Gnao1: A murine model of epileptiform encephalopathy (EIEE17)? 
Mammalian Genome  2014;25(5-6):202-210.
G protein-coupled receptors strongly modulate neuronal excitability but there has been little evidence for G protein mechanisms in genetic epilepsies. Recently, four patients with epileptic encephalopathy (EIEE17) were found to have mutations in GNAO1, the most abundant G protein in brain, but the mechanism of this effect is not known. The GNAO1 gene product, Gαo, negatively regulates neurotransmitter release. Here, we report a dominant murine model of Gnao1-related seizures and sudden death. We introduced a genomic gain-of-function knock-in mutation (Gnao1+/G184S) that prevents Go turnoff by Regulators of G protein signaling proteins. This results in rare seizures, strain-dependent death between 15 and 40 weeks of age, and a markedly increased frequency of interictal epileptiform discharges. Mutants on a C57BL/6J background also have faster sensitization to pentylenetetrazol (PTZ) kindling. Both premature lethality and PTZ kindling effects are suppressed in the 129SvJ mouse strain. We have mapped a 129S-derived modifier locus on Chromosome 17 (within the region 41–70 MB) as a Modifer of G protein Seizures (Mogs1). Our mouse model suggests a novel gain-of-function mechanism for the newly defined subset of epileptic encephalopathy (EIEE17). Furthermore, it reveals a new epilepsy susceptibility modifier Mogs1 with implications for the complex genetics of human epilepsy as well as sudden death in epilepsy.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00335-014-9509-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4042023  PMID: 24700286
16.  High-Throughput Screening for Small Molecule Inhibitors of LARG-Stimulated RhoA Nucleotide Binding via a Novel Fluorescence Polarization Assay 
Journal of biomolecular screening  2009;14(2):161-172.
Guanine nucleotide-exchange factors (GEFs) stimulate guanine nucleotide exchange and the subsequent activation of Rho-family proteins in response to extracellular stimuli acting upon cytokine, tyrosine kinase, adhesion, integrin, and G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). Upon Rho activation, several downstream events occur, such as morphological and cytokskeletal changes, motility, growth, survival, and gene transcription. The RhoGEF Leukemia-Associated RhoGEF (LARG) is a member of the Regulators of G-protein Signaling Homology Domain (RH) family of GEFs originally identified as a result of chromosomal translocation in acute myeloid leukemia. Using a novel fluorescence polarization guanine nucleotide binding assay utilizing BODIPY-Texas Red-GTPγS (BODIPY-TR-GTPγS), we performed a ten-thousand compound high-throughput screen for inhibitors of LARG-stimulated RhoA nucleotide binding. Five compounds identified from the high-throughput screen were confirmed in a non-fluorescent radioactive guanine nucleotide binding assay measuring LARG-stimulated [35S] GTPγS binding to RhoA, thus ruling out non-specific fluorescent effects. All five compounds selectively inhibited LARG-stimulated RhoA [35S] GTPγS binding, but had little to no effect upon RhoA or Gαo [35S] GTPγS binding. Therefore, these five compounds should serve as promising starting points for the development of small molecule inhibitors of LARG-mediated nucleotide exchange as both pharmacological tools and therapeutics. In addition, the fluorescence polarization guanine nucleotide binding assay described here should serve as a useful approach for both high-throughput screening and general biological applications.
PMCID: PMC2698131  PMID: 19196702
high-throughput screening; fluorescence polarization; RhoGEF; RhoA; LARG; Drug Discovery
17.  And the winner is … RGS4! 
Circulation research  2008;103(5):444-446.
PMCID: PMC2712674  PMID: 18757831
Arrhythmia; Automaticity; Mouse mutants; Potassium channels; G proteins
18.  Differential Control of Opioid Antinociception to Thermal Stimuli in a Knock-In Mouse Expressing Regulator of G-Protein Signaling-Insensitive Gαo Protein 
Regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS) proteins classically function as negative modulators of G-protein-coupled receptor signaling. In vitro, RGS proteins have been shown to inhibit signaling by agonists at the μ-opioid receptor, including morphine. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the contribution of endogenous RGS proteins to the antinociceptive effects of morphine and other opioid agonists. To do this, a knock-in mouse that expresses an RGS-insensitive (RGSi) mutant Gαo protein, GαoG184S (Gαo RGSi), was evaluated for morphine or methadone antinociception in response to noxious thermal stimuli. Mice expressing Gαo RGSi subunits exhibited a naltrexone-sensitive enhancement of baseline latency in both the hot-plate and warm-water tail-withdrawal tests. In the hot-plate test, a measure of supraspinal nociception, morphine antinociception was increased, and this was associated with an increased ability of opioids to inhibit presynaptic GABA neurotransmission in the periaqueductal gray. In contrast, antinociception produced by either morphine or methadone was reduced in the tail-withdrawal test, a measure of spinal nociception. In whole-brain and spinal cord homogenates from mice expressing Gαo RGSi subunits, there was a small loss of Gαo expression and an accompanying decrease in basal G-protein activity. Our results strongly support a role for RGS proteins as negative regulators of opioid supraspinal antinociception and also reveal a potential novel function of RGS proteins as positive regulators of opioid spinal antinociceptive pathways.
PMCID: PMC3740968  PMID: 23467353
19.  The Loss of RGS Protein-Gαi2 Interactions Results in Markedly Impaired Mouse Neutrophil Trafficking to Inflammatory Sites 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2012;32(22):4561-4571.
Neutrophils are first responders rapidly mobilized to inflammatory sites by a tightly regulated, nonredundant hierarchy of chemoattractants. These chemoattractants engage neutrophil cell surface receptors triggering heterotrimeric G-protein Gαi subunits to exchange GDP for GTP. By limiting the duration that Gαi subunits remain GTP bound, RGS proteins modulate chemoattractant receptor signaling. Here, we show that neutrophils with a genomic knock in of a mutation that disables regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS)-Gαi2 interactions accumulate in the bone marrow and mobilize poorly to inflammatory sites. These defects are attributable to enhanced sensitivity to background signals, prolonged chemoattractant receptor signaling, and inappropriate CXCR2 downregulation. Intravital imaging revealed a failure of the mutant neutrophils to accumulate at and stabilize sites of sterile inflammation. Furthermore, these mice could not control a nonlethal Staphylococcus aureus infection. Neutrophil RGS proteins establish a threshold for Gαi activation, helping to coordinate desensitization mechanisms. Their loss renders neutrophils functionally incompetent.
PMCID: PMC3486189  PMID: 22966200
20.  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.
PMCID: PMC3600606  PMID: 22706349
chemoinformatics; data analysis software; open source; high-throughput screening
21.  Small Molecule Inhibitors of Regulator of G Protein Signalling (RGS) Proteins 
ACS medicinal chemistry letters  2012;3(2):146-150.
Recently regulators of G protein signalling (RGS) proteins have emerged as potential therapeutic targets since they provide an alternative method of modulating the activity of GPCRs, the target of so many drugs. Inhibitors of RGS proteins must block a protein-protein interaction (RGS-Gα), but also be cell and, depending on the therapeutic target, blood brain barrier permeable. A lead compound (1a) was identified as an inhibitor of RGS4 in a screening assay and this has now been optimised for activity, selectivity and solubility. The newly developed ligands (11b, 13) display substantial selectivity over the closely related RGS8 protein, lack the off-target calcium mobilisation activity of the lead 1a and have excellent aqueous solubility. They are currently being evaluated in vivo in rodent models of depression.
PMCID: PMC3285107  PMID: 22368763
RGS4; RGS protein; thiadiazolidinone; GPCR; protein-protein interaction
22.  Small Molecule Inhibitors of Regulators of G Protein Signaling (RGS) Proteins 
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters  2011;3(2):146-150.
Recently, regulators of G protein signaling (RGS) proteins have emerged as potential therapeutic targets since they provide an alternative method of modulating the activity of G protein-coupled receptors, the target of so many drugs. Inhibitors of RGS proteins must block a protein–protein interaction (RGS-Gα) but also be cell and, depending on the therapeutic target, blood–brain barrier permeable. A lead compound (1a) was identified as an inhibitor of RGS4 in a screening assay, and this has now been optimized for activity, selectivity, and solubility. The newly developed ligands (11b and 13) display substantial selectivity over the closely related RGS8 protein, lack the off-target calcium mobilization activity of the lead 1a, and have excellent aqueous solubility. They are currently being evaluated in vivo in rodent models of depression.
PMCID: PMC3285107  PMID: 22368763
RGS4; RGS protein; thiadiazolidinone; GPCR; protein−protein interaction
23.  Gαi2-mediated protection from ischaemic injury is modulated by endogenous RGS proteins in the mouse heart 
Cardiovascular Research  2011;91(1):45-52.
Regulator of G protein signalling (RGS) proteins act as molecular ‘off switches’ that terminate G protein signalling by catalyzing the hydrolysis of Gα-bound GTP to GDP. Many different Gαi-coupled receptors have been implicated in the cardioprotective effects of ischaemic preconditioning. However, the role of RGS proteins in modulating cardioprotection has not been previously investigated. We used mice that were homozygous (GS/GS) or heterozygous (GS/+) for a mutation in Gαi2 rendering it RGS-insensitive (G184S) to determine whether interactions between endogenous RGS proteins and Gαi2 modulate Gαi-mediated protection from ischaemic injury.
Methods and results
Langendorff-perfused mouse hearts were subjected to 30 min global ischaemia and 2 h reperfusion. Infarcts in GS/GS (14.5% of area at risk) and GS/+ (22.6% of AAR) hearts were significantly smaller than those of +/+ hearts (37.2% of AAR) and recovery of contractile function was significantly enhanced in GS/GS and GS/+ hearts compared with +/+ hearts. The cardioprotective phenotype was not reversed by wortmannin or U0126 but was reversed by 5-hydroxydecanoic acid and HMR 1098, indicating that RGS-insensitive Gαi2 protects the heart through a mechanism that requires functional ATP-dependent potassium channels but does not require acute activation of extracellular-regulated kinase or Akt signalling pathways.
This is the first study to demonstrate that Gαi2-mediated cardioprotection is suppressed by RGS proteins. These data suggest that RGS proteins may provide novel therapeutic targets to protect the heart from ischaemic injury.
PMCID: PMC3112020  PMID: 21349876
Ischaemic preconditioning; Ischaemia reperfusion injury; Regulator of G protein signalling (RGS); Gi2
24.  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.
PMCID: PMC3374590  PMID: 21844328
unfolded protein response; endoplasmic reticulum stress; cell-based assay; luciferase reporter; natural products
25.  Gα subunit coordinates with ephrin-B to balance self-renewal and differentiation in neural progenitor cells 
Stem Cells (Dayton, Ohio)  2010;28(9):1581-1589.
Proper development of the mammalian brain requires that neural progenitor cells balance self-renewal and differentiation under precise temporal and spatial regulation, but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. In this study, we identify Gα subunit as a positive regulator of mammalian neurogenesis, working with the RGS-mediated ephrin-B signaling pathway as two opposing forces to maintain a balance between self-renewal and differentiation in the developing mouse cerebral cortex. Multiple Gαi subunits are expressed by cortical neural progenitor cells during the course of cortical neurogenesis. Activation of Gαi signaling, through in utero electroporation mediated expression of wild-type and constitutively active Gαi subunits, counteracts the function of ephrin-B in cortical neural progenitors to induce differentiation. Genetic knock-in of an RGS-insensitive G184SGαi2 causes early cell cycle exit and a reduction of cortical neural progenitor cells and leads to a defect in the production of late born cortical neurons, similar to what is observed in mutant mice with deficiency in ephrin-B reverse signaling pathway. This study reveals a role of Gα subunit in mammalian neurogenesis and uncovers a developmental mechanism, coordinated by the Gα and ephrin-B signaling pathways, for control of the balance between self-renewal and differentiation in neural progenitor cells.
PMCID: PMC3265139  PMID: 20629171
Gα subunit; Ephrin-B/RGS signaling; neural progenitor cells; cortical neurogenesis; self-renewal and differentiation

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