Pompe disease is an autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disorder (LSD) caused by deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme acid alpha glucosidase (GAA). Many disease-causing mutated GAA retain enzymatic activity, but are not translocated from endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to lysosomes. Enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) is the only treatment for Pompe disease, but remains expensive, inconvenient and does not reverse all disease manifestations. It was postulated that small molecules which aid in protein folding and translocation to lysosomes could provide an alternate to ERT. Previously, several iminosugars have been proposed as small-molecule chaperones for specific LSDs. Here we identified a novel series of non-iminosugar chaperones for GAA. These moderate GAA inhibitors are shown to bind and thermo-stabilize GAA, and increase GAA translocation to lysosomes in both wild-type and Pompe fibroblasts. AMDE and physical properties studies indicate that this series is a promising lead for further pharmacokinetic evaluation and testing in Pompe disease models.
A recent large outbreak of fungal infections by Exserohilum rostratum from contaminated compounding solutions has highlighted the need to rapidly screen available pharmaceuticals that could be useful in therapy. The present study utilized two newly-developed high throughput assays to screen approved drugs and pharmaceutically active compounds for identification of potential antifungal agents. Several known drugs were found that have potent effects against E. rostratum including the triazole antifungal posaconazole. Posaconazole is likely to be effective against infections involving septic joints and may provide an alternative for refractory central nervous system infections. The anti-E. rostratum activities of several other drugs including bithionol (an anti-parasitic drug), tacrolimus (an immunosuppressive agent) and floxuridine (an antimetabolite) were also identified from the drug repurposing screens. In addition, activities of other potential antifungal agents against E. rostratum were excluded, which may avoid unnecessary therapeutic trials and reveals the limited therapeutic alternatives for this outbreak. In summary, this study has demonstrated that drug repurposing screens can be quickly conducted within a useful time-frame. This would allow clinical implementation of identified alternative therapeutics and should be considered as part of the initial public health response to new outbreaks or rapidly-emerging microbial pathogens.
Cancer cells engage in a metabolic program to enhance biosynthesis and support cell proliferation. The regulatory properties of pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) influence altered glucose metabolism in cancer. PKM2 interaction with phosphotyrosine-containing proteins inhibits enzyme activity and increases availability of glycolytic metabolites to support cell proliferation. This suggests that high pyruvate kinase activity may suppress tumor growth. We show that expression of PKM1, the pyruvate kinase isoform with high constitutive activity, or exposure to published small molecule PKM2 activators inhibit growth of xenograft tumors. Structural studies reveal that small molecule activators bind PKM2 at the subunit interaction interface, a site distinct from that of the endogenous activator fructose-1,6-bisphosphate (FBP). However, unlike FBP, binding of activators to PKM2 promotes a constitutively active enzyme state that is resistant to inhibition by tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins. These data support the notion that small molecule activation of PKM2 can interfere with anabolic metabolism.
A major challenge in the field of Gaucher disease has been the development of new therapeutic strategies including molecular chaperones. All previously described chaperones of glucocerebrosidase are enzyme inhibitors, which complicates their clinical development, because their chaperone activity must be balanced against the functional inhibition of the enzyme. Using a novel high throughput screening methodology, we identified a chemical series that does not inhibit the enzyme, but can still facilitate its translocation to the lysosome as measured by immunostaining of glucocerebrosidase in patient fibroblasts. These compounds provide the basis for the development of a novel approach towards small molecule treatment for patients with Gaucher disease.
Gaucher disease; glucocerebrosidase; chaperone; pyrazolopyrimidine; activator
Myotonic dystrophy type-1 (DM1), the most prevalent form of adult muscular dystrophy, is caused by expansion of a CTG repeat in the 3′ untranslated region of the DM protein kinase (DMPK) gene. The pathogenic effects of the CTG expansion arise from the deleterious effects of the mutant transcript. RNA with expanded CUG tracts alters the activities of several RNA binding proteins, including muscleblind-like 1 (MBNL1). MBNL1 becomes sequestered in nuclear foci in complex with the expanded CUG repeat RNA. The resulting loss of MBNL1 activity causes mis-regulated alternative splicing of multiple genes, leading to symptoms of DM1. The binding interaction between MBNL1 and mutant RNA could be a key step in the pathogenesis of DM1 and serves as a potential target for therapeutic intervention. We have developed two high throughput screen (HTS) suitable assays using both homogenous time-resolved fluorescence energy transfer (HTRF) and AlphaScreen technologies to detect the binding of a C-terminally His-tagged MBNL1 and a biotinylated (CUG)12 RNA. These assays are homogenous and successfully miniaturized to 1536-well plate format. Both assays were validated and show robust signal-to-basal ratios and Z’ factors.
Myotonic dystrophy type 1; DM1; Muscleblind-like 1; MBNL1
The identification of novel combinations of effective cancer drugs is required for the successful treatment of cancer patients for a number of reasons. First, many “cancer specific” therapeutics display detrimental patient side-effects and second, there are almost no examples of single agent therapeutics that lead to cures. One strategy to decrease both the effective dose of individual drugs and the potential for therapeutic resistance is to combine drugs that regulate independent pathways that converge on cell death. BCL2-like family members are key proteins that regulate apoptosis. We conducted a screen to identify drugs that could be combined with an inhibitor of anti-apoptotic BCL2-like proteins, ABT-263, to kill human leukemia cells lines. We found that the combination of D,L-threo-1-phenyl-2-decanoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol (PDMP) hydrochloride, an inhibitor of glucosylceramide synthase, potently synergized with ABT-263 in the killing of multiple human leukemia cell lines. Treatment of cells with PDMP and ABT-263 led to dramatic elevation of two pro-apoptotic sphingolipids, namely ceramide and sphingosine. Furthermore, treatment of cells with the sphingosine kinase inhibitor, SKi-II, also dramatically synergized with ABT-263 to kill leukemia cells and similarly increased ceramides and sphingosine. Data suggest that synergism with ABT-263 requires accumulation of ceramides and sphingosine, as AMP-deoxynojirimycin, (an inhibitor of the glycosphingolipid pathway) did not elevate ceramides or sphingosine and importantly did not sensitize cells to ABT-263 treatment. Taken together, our data suggest that combining inhibitors of anti-apoptotic BCL2-like proteins with drugs that alter the balance of bioactive sphingolipids will be a powerful combination for the treatment of human cancers.
The human pathogen Giardia lamblia is an anaerobic protozoan parasite that causes giardiasis, one of the most common diarrheal diseases worldwide. Although several drugs are available for the treatment of giardisis, resistance to these drugs has been reported and is likely to increase. The Giardia carbamate kinase (glCK) plays an essential role in Giardia metabolism and has no homologs in humans, making it an attractive candidate for anti-Giardia drug development. We have developed a luminescent enzyme coupled assay to measure the activity of glCK by quantitating the amount of ATP produced by the enzyme. This assay is homogeneous and has been miniaturized into a 1536-well plate format. A pilot screen against 4,096 known compounds using this assay yielded a signal-to-basal ratio of 11.5 fold and Z’ factor of 0.8 with a hit rate of 0.9 % of inhibitors of glCK. Therefore, this Giardia lamblia carbamate kinase assay is useful for high throughput screening of large compound collection for identification of the inhibitors for drug development.
Carbamate kinase; Giardia; high throughput screening; assay development.
A hallmark of Huntington’s disease is the presence of a large polyglutamine expansion in the first exon of the Huntingtin protein and the propensity of protein aggregation by the mutant proteins. Aberrant protein aggregation also occurs in other polyglutamine expansion disorders, as well as in other neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and prion diseases. However, the pathophysiological role of these aggregates in the cell death that characterizes the diseases remains unclear. Identification of small molecule probes that modulate protein aggregation and cytotoxicity caused by aggregated proteins may greatly facilitate the studies on pathogenesis of these diseases and potentially lead to development of new therapies. Based on a detergent insoluble property of the Huntingtin protein aggregates, we have developed a homogenous assay to rapidly quantitate the levels of protein aggregates in a cellular model of Huntington’s disease. The protein aggregation assay has also been multiplexed with a protease release assay for the measurement of cytotoxicity resulting from aggregated proteins in the same cells. Through a testing screen of a compound library, we have demonstrated that this multiplexed cytotoxicity and protein aggregation assay has ability to identify active compounds that prevent cell death and/or modulate protein aggregation in cells of the Huntington’s disease model. Therefore, this multiplexed screening approach is also useful for development of high-throughput screening assays for other neurodegenerative diseases involving protein aggregation.
Huntington’s disease; protein aggregation; high-throughput screen; polyglutamine expansion; multiplex assay.
The National Toxicology Program is developing a high throughput screening (HTS) program to set testing priorities for compounds of interest, to identify mechanisms of action, and potentially to develop predictive models for human toxicity. This program will generate extensive data on the activity of large numbers of chemicals in a wide variety of biochemical-and cell-based assays. The first step in relating patterns of response among batteries of HTS assays to in vivo toxicity is to distinguish between positive and negative compounds in individual assays. Here, we report on a statistical approach developed to identify compounds positive or negative in a HTS cytotoxicity assay based on data collected from screening 1353 compounds for concentration-response effects in nine human and four rodent cell types. In this approach, we develop methods to normalize the data (removing bias due to the location of the compound on the 1536-well plates used in the assay) and to analyze for concentration-response relationships. Various statistical tests for identifying significant concentration-response relationships and for addressing reproducibility are developed and presented.
high-throughput screening; dose-response; statistical modeling; viability assay
We herein describe the rapid synthesis of a diverse set of dihydroquinazolin-4-ones and quinazolin-4-ones, their biological evaluation as thyroid stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR) agonists, and SAR analysis. Among the compounds screened, 8b was 60-fold more potent than the hit compound 1a, which was identified from a high throughput screen of over 73,000 compounds.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive disorder affecting the expression or function of survival motor neuron protein (SMN) due to the homozygous deletion or rare point mutations in the survival motor neuron gene 1 (SMN1). The human genome includes a second nearly identical gene called SMN2 that is retained in SMA. SMN2 transcripts undergo alternative splicing with reduced levels of SMN. Up-regulation of SMN2 expression, modification of its splicing, or inhibition of proteolysis of the truncated protein derived from SMN2 have been discussed as potential therapeutic strategies for SMA. In this manuscript, we detail the discovery of a series of arylpiperidines as novel modulators of SMN protein. Systematic hit-to-lead efforts significantly improved potency and efficacy of the series in the primary and orthogonal assays. Structure property relationships including microsomal stability, cell permeability and in vivo pharmacokinetics (PK) studies were also investigated. We anticipate that a lead candidate chosen from this series may serve as a useful probe for exploring the therapeutic benefits of SMN protein up-regulation in SMA animal models, and a starting point for clinical development.
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.
HTS; compound storage; DMSO; quantitative HTS
We measured the “druggability” of the ATP-dependent luciferase derived from the firefly Photuris pennsylvanica that was optimized using directed evolution (Ultra-Glo™, Promega). Quantitative high throughput screening (qHTS) was used to determine IC50’s of 198,899 samples against a formulation of Ultra-Glo luciferase (Kinase-Glo™). We found that only 0.1% of the Kinase-Glo inhibitors showed an IC50 < 10 μM compared to 0.9% found from a previous qHTS against the firefly luciferase from Photinus pyralis (lucPpy). Further, the maximum affinity identified in the lucPpy qHTS was 50 nM while for Kinase-Glo this value increased to 600 nM. Compounds with interactions stretching outside the luciferin binding pocket were largely lost with Ultra-Glo luciferase. Therefore, Ultra-Glo luciferase will show less compound interference when used as an ATP sensor compared to lucPpy. This study demonstrates the power of large-scale quantitative analysis of structure-activity relationships (>100K compounds) in addressing important questions such as a target's druggability.
chemical profiling; enzyme assay; PubChem; luciferase; quantitative high-throughput screening
Small molecule chaperones are a promising therapeutic approach for the Lysosomal Storage Disorders (LSDs). Here, we report the discovery of a new series of non-iminosugar glucocerebrosidase inhibitors with chaperone capacity, and describe their structure activity relationship (SAR), selectivity, cell activity phamacokinetics.
Glucocerebrosidase is a lysosomal enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of glucosylceramide to form ceramide and glucose. A deficiency of lysosomal glucocerebrosidase due to genetic mutations results in Gaucher disease, in which glucosylceramide accumulates in the lysosomes of certain cell types. Although enzyme replacement therapy is currently available for the treatment of type 1 Gaucher disease, the neuronopathic forms of Gaucher disease are still not treatable. Small molecule drugs that can penetrate the blood-brain barrier, such as pharmacological chaperones and enzyme activators, are new therapeutic approaches for Gaucher disease. Enzyme assays for glucocerebrosidase are used to screen compound libraries to identify new lead compounds for drug development for the treatment of Gaucher disease. But the current assays use artificial substrates that are not physiologically relevant. We developed a glucocerebrosidase assay using the natural substrate glucosylceramide coupled to an Amplex-red enzyme reporting system. This assay is in a homogenous assay format and has been miniaturized in a 1,536-well plate format for high throughput screening. The assay sensitivity and robustness is similar to those seen with other glucocerebrosidase fluorescence assays. Therefore, this new glucocerebrosidase assay is an alternative approach for high throughput screening.
Glucocerebrosidase; Natural substrate; Gaucher disease; Enzyme substrate; Inhibitor
The human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG) channel, a member of a family of voltage-gated potassium (K+) channels, plays a critical role in the repolarization of the cardiac action potential. The reduction of hERG channel activity as a result of adverse drug effects or genetic mutations may cause QT interval prolongation and potentially lead to acquired long QT syndrome. Thus, screening for hERG channel activity is important in drug development. Cardiotoxicity associated with the inhibition of hERG channels by environmental chemicals is also a public health concern. To assess the inhibitory effects of environmental chemicals on hERG channel function, we screened the National Toxicology Program (NTP) collection of 1408 compounds by measuring thallium influx into cells through hERG channels. Seventeen compounds with hERG channel inhibition were identified with IC50 potencies ranging from 0.26 to 22 μM. Twelve of these compounds were confirmed as hERG channel blockers in an automated whole cell patch clamp experiment. In addition, we investigated the structure-activity relationship of seven compounds belonging to the quaternary ammonium compound (QAC) series on hERG channel inhibition. Among four active QAC compounds, tetra-n-octylammonium bromide was the most potent with an IC50 value of 260 nM in the thallium influx assay and 80 nM in the patch clamp assay. The potency of this class of hERG channel inhibitors appears to depend on the number and length of their aliphatic side-chains surrounding the charged nitrogen. Profiling environmental compound libraries for hERG channel inhibition provides information useful in prioritizing these compounds for cardiotoxicity assessment in vivo.
cardiotoxicity; hERG; long QT syndrome; NTP 1408 library; patch clamp; qHTS; tetra-n-octylammonium bromide; thallium influx
Small-molecule compounds approved for use as drugs may be “repurposed” for new indications and studied to determine the mechanisms of their beneficial and adverse effects. A comprehensive collection of all small-molecule drugs approved for human use would be invaluable for systematic repurposing across human diseases, particularly for rare and neglected diseases, for which the cost and time required for development of a new chemical entity are often prohibitive. Previous efforts to build such a comprehensive collection have been limited by the complexities, redundancies, and semantic inconsistencies of drug naming within and among regulatory agencies worldwide; a lack of clear conceptualization of what constitutes a drug; and a lack of access to physical samples. We report here the creation of a definitive, complete, and nonredundant list of all approved molecular entities as a freely available electronic resource and a physical collection of small molecules amenable to high-throughput screening.
Gaucher disease is a Lysosomal Storage Disorder (LSD) caused by deficiency in the enzyme glucocerebrosidase (GC). Small molecule chaperones of protein folding and translocation have been proposed as a promising therapeutic approach to this LSD. Most small molecule chaperones described in the literature contain an iminosugar scaffold. Here we present the discovery and evaluation of a new series of GC inhibitors with a quinazoline core. We demonstrate that this series can improve the translocation of GC to the lysosome in patient-derived cells. To optimize this chemical series, systematic synthetic modifications were performed and the SAR was evaluated and compared using three different readouts of compound activity – enzymatic inhibition, enzyme thermostabilization, and lysosomal translocation of GC.
Gaucher disease (GD), the most common lysosomal storage disorder, results from the inherited deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme glucocerebrosidase (GCase). Previously, wildtype GCase was used for high throughput screening (HTS) of large collections of compounds to identify small molecule chaperones that could be developed as new therapies for GD. However, the compounds identified from HTS usually showed reduced potency later in confirmatory cell-based assays. An alternate strategy is to perform HTS on mutant enzyme to identify different lead compounds, including those enhancing mutant enzyme activities. We developed a new screening assay using enzyme extract prepared from the spleen of a patient with Gaucher disease with genotype N370S/N370S. In tissue extracts, GCase is in a more native physiological environment, and is present with the native activator saposin C and other potential cofactors. Using this assay, we screened a library of 250,000 compounds and identified novel modulators of mutant GCase including 14 new lead inhibitors and 30 lead activators. The activities of some of the primary hits were confirmed in subsequent cell-based assays using patient-derived fibroblasts. These results suggest that primary screening assays using enzyme extracted from tissues is an alternative approach to identify high quality, physiologically relevant lead compounds for drug development.
Small molecules have been identified as potential therapeutic agents for lysosomal storage diseases (LSDs), inherited metabolic disorders caused by defects in proteins that result in lysosome dysfunctional. Some small molecules function assisting the folding of mutant misfolded lysosomal enzymes that are otherwise degraded in ER-associated degradation. The ultimate result is the enhancement of the residual enzymatic activity of the deficient enzyme. Most of the high throughput screening (HTS) assays developed to identify these molecules are single-target biochemical assays. Here we describe a cell-based assay using patient cell lines to identify small molecules that enhance the residual arylsulfatase A (ASA) activity found in patients with metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), a progressive neurodegenerative LSD. In order to generate sufficient cell lines for a large scale HTS, primary cultured fibroblasts from MLD patients were transformed using SV40 large T antigen. These SV40 transformed (SV40t) cells showed to conserve biochemical characteristics of the primary cells. Using a specific colorimetric substrate para-nitrocatechol sulfate (pNCS), detectable ASA residual activity were observed in primary and SV40t fibroblasts from a MLD patient (ASA-I179S) cultured in multi-well plates. A robust fluorescence ASA assay was developed in high-density 1,536-well plates using the traditional colorimetric pNCS substrate, whose product (pNC) acts as “plate fluorescence quencher” in white solid-bottom plates. The quantitative cell-based HTS assay for ASA generated strong statistical parameters when tested against a diverse small molecule collection. This cell-based assay approach can be used for several other LSDs and genetic disorders, especially those that rely on colorimetric substrates which traditionally present low sensitivity for assay-miniaturization. In addition, the quantitative cell-based HTS assay here developed using patient cells creates an opportunity to identify therapeutic small molecules in a disease-cellular environment where potentially disrupted pathways are exposed and available as targets.
Antagonists of the Neuropeptide S Receptor have been postulated as promising therapeutics in the treatment of respiratory, sleep, anxiety, and addictive disorders. Here we present the SAR of a new series of orthosteric antagonists. Neuropeptide S Receptor signaling is coupled to both Gq and Gs proteins, and we observe that different analogues in this structural series can selectively antagonize these two pathways. Many G-protein coupled receptors transduce signals through multiple pathways. Selective antagonism of these pathways may lead the way to the development of more targeted pharmacological profiles and therapies.
Neuropeptide S Receptor antagonist; sleep disorders; addiction disorders; Naphtho Pyrano Pyrimidines; homogeneous time resolved fluorescence; Neuropeptide S radiolabel displacement assay
Antagonists of the neuropeptide S receptor have been postulated as promising therapeutics in the treatment of respiratory, sleep, anxiety, and addictive disorders. Here, we present the SAR of a new series of orthosteric antagonists. Neuropeptide S receptor signaling is coupled to both Gq and Gs proteins, and we observe that different analogues in this structural series can selectively antagonize these two pathways. Many G-protein coupled receptors transduce signals through multiple pathways. Selective antagonism of these pathways may lead the way to the development of more targeted pharmacological profiles and therapies.
Neuropeptide S receptor antagonist; sleep disorders; addiction disorders; naphtho pyrano pyrimidines; homogeneous time-resolved fluorescence; neuropeptide S radiolabel displacement assay
The human pathogen Giardia lamblia is an anaerobic protozoan parasite that causes giardiasis, one of the most common diarrheal diseases worldwide. Although several drugs are available for the treatment of giardiasis, drug resistance has been reported and is likely to increase, and recurrent infections are common. The search for new drugs that can overcome the drug-resistant strains of Giardia is an unmet medical need. New drug screen methods can facilitate the drug discovery process and aid with the identification of new drug targets. Using a bioluminescent ATP content assay, we have developed a phenotypic drug screen method to identify compounds that act against the actively growing trophozoite stage of the parasite. This assay is homogeneous, robust, and suitable for high-throughput screening of large compound collections. A screen of 4,096 pharmacologically active small molecules and approved drugs revealed 43 compounds with selective anti-Giardia properties, including 32 previously reported and 11 novel anti-Giardia agents. The most potent novel compound was fumagillin, which showed 50% inhibitory concentrations of 10 nM against the WB isolate and 2 nM against the GS isolate.
Cancer cells have distinct metabolic needs that are different from normal cells and can be exploited for development of anti-cancer therapeutics. Activation of the tumor specific M2 form of pyruvate kinase (PKM2) is a potential strategy for returning cancer cells to a metabolic state characteristic of normal cells. Here, we describe activators of PKM2 based upon a substituted thieno[3,2-b]pyrrole[3,2-d]pyridazinone scaffold. The synthesis of these agents, structure activity relationships, analysis of activity at related targets (PKM1, PKR and PKL) and examination of aqueous solubility are investigated. These agents represent the second reported chemotype for activation of PKM2.
Warburg effect; pyruvate kinase; cellular metabolism; anti-cancer strategies; small molecule activators