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1.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC4289604  PMID: 21671877
2.  Decarboxylative Fluorination Strategies for Accessing Medicinally-relevant Products 
Fluorinated organic compounds have a long history in medicinal chemistry, and synthetic methods to access target fluorinated compounds are undergoing a revolution. One powerful strategy for the installation of fluorine-containing functional groups includes decarboxylative reactions. Benefits of decarboxylative approaches potentially include: 1) readily available substrates or reagents 2) mild reaction conditions; 3) simplified purification. This focus review highlights the applications of decarboxylation strategies for fluorination reactions to access compounds with biomedical potential. The manuscript highlights on two general strategies, fluorination by decarboxylative reagents and by decarboxylation of substrates. Where relevant, examples of medicinally useful compounds that can be accessed using these strategies are highlighted.
PMCID: PMC4131449  PMID: 24484421
decarboxylation; fluorination; difluoromethylation; trifluoromethylation; copper
3.  Radiosyntheses using Fluorine-18: the Art and Science of Late Stage Fluorination 
Positron (β+) emission tomography (PE) is a powerful, noninvasive tool for the in vivo, three-dimensional imaging of physiological structures and biochemical pathways. The continued growth of PET imaging relies on a corresponding increase in access to radiopharmaceuticals (biologically active molecules labeled with short-lived radionuclides such as fluorine-18). This unique need to incorporate the short-lived fluorine-18 atom (t1/2 = 109.77 min) as late in the synthetic pathway as possible has made development of methodologies that enable rapid and efficient late stage fluorination an area of research within its own right. In this review we describe strategies for radiolabeling with fluorine-18, including classical fluorine-18 radiochemistry and emerging techniques for late stage fluorination reactions, as well as labeling technologies such as microfluidics and solid-phase radiochemistry. The utility of fluorine-18 labeled radiopharmaceuticals is showcased through recent applications of PET imaging in the healthcare, personalized medicine and drug discovery settings.
PMCID: PMC4140448  PMID: 24484425
fluorine-18; radiochemistry; radiopharmaceutical synthesis; PET imaging; positron emission tomography
4.  CYP4 Enzymes as potential drug targets: focus on enzyme multiplicity, inducers and inhibitors, and therapeutic modulation of 20-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (20-HETE) synthase and fatty acid ω-hydroxylase activities 
Current topics in medicinal chemistry  2013;13(12):1429-1440.
The Cytochrome P450 4 (CYP4) family of enzymes in humans is comprised of thirteen isozymes that typically catalyze the ω-oxidation of endogenous fatty acids and eicosanoids. Several CYP4 enzymes can biosynthesize 20-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid or 20-HETE, an important signaling eicosanoid involved in regulation of vascular tone and kidney reabsorption. Additionally, accumulation of certain fatty acids is a hallmark of the rare genetic disorders, Refsum disease and X-ALD. Therefore, modulation of CYP4 enzyme activity, either by inhibition or induction, is a potential strategy for drug discovery. Here we review the substrate specificities, sites of expression, genetic regulation, and inhibition by exogenous chemicals of the human CYP4 enzymes, and discuss the targeting of CYP4 enzymes in the development of new treatments for hypertension, stroke, certain cancers and the fatty acid-linked orphan diseases.
PMCID: PMC4245146  PMID: 23688133
20-HETE; CYP4; HET0016; Hypertension; Stroke; Cancer; Refsum Disease; X-ALD
5.  Recent Advances in the Synthesis of C-oligosaccharides 
This paper reviews the recent advances in the synthesis of catabolically stable sugar mimetics, C-oligosaccharides. These compounds are synthetic analogs of the naturally occurring O-oligosaccharides, in which the interglycosidic oxygen has been replaced by a methylene group. This review is organized in terms of chemistry used to assemble C-oligosaccarides under the sub-headings: anionic approaches, cationic methods, reductive glycosyl samarium chemistry, cyclization methodology, and free radical chemistry.
PMCID: PMC4121988  PMID: 16305537
6.  Immobilization of Heparin: Approaches and Applications 
Heparin, an anticoagulant, has been used in many forms to treat various diseases. These forms include soluble heparin and heparin immobilized to supporting matrices by physical adsorption, by covalent chemical methods and by photochemical attachment. These immobilization methods often require the use of spacers or linkers. This review examines and compares various techniques that have been used for the immobilization of heparin as well as applications of these immobilized heparins. In the applications reviewed, immobilized heparin is compared with soluble heparin for efficient and versatile use in each of the various applications.
PMCID: PMC4117378  PMID: 18289079
Heparin; Immobilization; Blood compatibility
7.  Challenges and Opportunities for Cancer Vaccines in the Current NSCLC Clinical Scenario 
Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry  2013;13(20):2551-2561.
This review is aimed to focus on NSCLC as an emerging and promising model for active immunotherapy and the challenges for its inclusion in the current clinical scenario. Cancer vaccines for NSCLC have been focused as a therapeutic option based on the identification of a tumor hallmark and the active immunization with the related molecules that triggers cellular and/or humoral responses that consequently destroy or delay the rate of malignant progression. This therapeutic intervention in an established disease state has been aimed to impact into prolonging patient´s survival with ethically accepted quality of life. Understanding of relationship between structure and function in cancer vaccines is essential to interpret their opportunities to impact into prolonging survival and increasing quality of life in cancer patients. It is widely accepted that the failure of the cancer vaccines in the NSCLC scenario is related with its introduction in the advanced disease stages and poor performance status of the patients due to the combination of the tumor induced immunosuppression with the immune senescence. Despite first, second and emerging third line of onco-specific treatments the life expectancy for NSCLC patients diagnosed at advanced stages is surrounding the 12 months of median survival and in facts the today real circumstances are extremely demanding for the success inclusion of cancer vaccines as therapeutic choice in the clinical scenario. The kinetics of the active immunizations encompasses a sequential cascade of clinical endpoints: starting by the activation of the immune system, followed by the antitumor response and finalizing with the consequential impact on patients’ overall survival. Today this cascade of clinical endpoints is the backbone for active immunization assessment and moreover the concept of cancer vaccines, applied in the NSCLC setting, is just evolving as a complex therapeutic strategy, in which the opportunities for cancer vaccines start from the selection of the target cancer hallmark, followed by the vaccine formulation and its platforms for immune potentiating, also cover the successful insertion in the standard of care, the chronic administration beyond progression disease, the personalization based on predictors of response and the potential combination with other targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC4104452  PMID: 24066886
NSCLC; cancer vaccine; cancer hallmarks.
8.  Local Use-Dependent Sleep 
Current topics in medicinal chemistry  2011;11(19):2390-2391.
PMCID: PMC4086182  PMID: 22181666
9.  Predictive In Silico Studies of Human 5-hydroxytryptamine Receptor Subtype 2B (5-HT2B) and Valvular Heart Disease 
Current topics in medicinal chemistry  2013;13(11):1353-1362.
Serotonin (5-HT) receptors are neuromodulator neurotransmitter receptors which when activated generate a signal transduction pathway within cells resulting in cell-cell communication. 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin) receptor 2B (5-HT2B) is a subtype of the seven members of 5-hydroxytrytamine (5-HT) family of receptors which is the largest member of the super family of 7-transmembrane G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). Not only do 5-HT receptors play physiological roles in the cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal and endocrine function and the central nervous, but they also play a role in behavioral functions. In particular 5-HT2B receptor is wide spread with regards to its distribution throughout bodily tissues and is expressed at high levels in the lungs, peripheral tissues, liver, kidney and prostate just to name a few. Hence 5-HT2B participates in multiple biological functions including CNS regulation, regulation of gastrointestinal motality, cardiovascular regulation and 5-HT transport system regulation. While 5-HT2B is a viable drug target and has therapeutic indications for treating obesity, psychotherapy, Parkinson’s disease etc. there is a growing concern regarding adverse drug reactions, specifically valvulopathy associated with 5-HT2B agonists. Due to the sequence homology experienced by 5-HT2 subtypes there is also a concern regarding the off target effects of 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C agonists. The concept of subtype selectivity is of paramount importance and can be tackled with the aid of in silico studies, specifically cheminformatics, to develop models to predict valvulopathy associated toxicity of drug candidates prior to clinical trials. This review has highlighted three in silico approaches thus far that have been successful in either predicting 5-HT2B toxicity of molecules or identifying important interactions between 5-HT2B and drug molecules that bring about valvulopathy related toxicities.
PMCID: PMC4086739  PMID: 23675941
5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin) receptor 2B; valvular heart disease; G protein-coupled receptors; in silico; cheminformatics; quantitative structure–activity relationship; homology modeling; molecular docking; molecular dynamics; virtual screening
10.  Compound activity prediction using models of binding pockets or ligand properties in 3D 
Current topics in medicinal chemistry  2012;12(17):1869-1882.
Transient interactions of endogenous and exogenous small molecules with flexible binding sites in proteins or macromolecular assemblies play a critical role in all biological processes. Current advances in high-resolution protein structure determination, database development, and docking methodology make it possible to design three-dimensional models for prediction of such interactions with increasing accuracy and specificity. Using the data collected in the Pocketome encyclopedia, we here provide an overview of two types of the three-dimensional ligand activity models, pocket-based and ligand property-based, for two important classes of proteins, nuclear and G-protein coupled receptors. For half the targets, the pocket models discriminate actives from property matched decoys with acceptable accuracy (the area under ROC curve, AUC, exceeding 84%) and for about one fifth of the targets with high accuracy (AUC > 95%). The 3D ligand property field models performed better than 95% in half of the cases. The high performance models can already become a basis of activity predictions for new chemicals. Family-wide benchmarking of the models highlights strengths of both approaches and helps identify their inherent bottlenecks and challenges.
PMCID: PMC4085113  PMID: 23116466
3D ligand activity model; atomic property fields; docking; screening
11.  PET Imaging in Prostate Cancer: Focus on Prostate-Specific Membrane Antigen 
Prostate cancer (PCa) is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in American men. Positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) with emerging radiopharmaceuticals promises accurate staging of primary disease, restaging of recurrent disease, detection of metastatic lesions and, ultimately, for predicting the aggressiveness of disease. Prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) is a well-characterized imaging biomarker of PCa. Because PSMA levels are directly related to androgen independence, metastasis and progression, PSMA could prove an important target for the development of new radiopharmaceuticals for PET. Preclinical data for new PSMA-based radiotracers are discussed and include new 89Zr- and 64Cu-labeled anti-PSMA antibodies and antibody fragments, 64Cu-labeled aptamers, and 11C-, 18F-, 68Ga-, 64Cu-, and 86Y-labeled low molecular weight inhibitors of PSMA. Several of these agents, namely 68Ga-HBED-CC conjugate 15, 18F-DCFBC 8, and BAY1075553 are particularly promising, each having detected sites of PCa in initial clinical studies. These early clinical results suggest that PET/CT using PSMA-targeted agents, especially with compounds of low molecular weight, will make valuable contributions to the management of PCa.
PMCID: PMC4067736  PMID: 23590171
DCFBC; molecular imaging; positron emission tomography; PSMA; radiopharmaceutical
12.  Molecular modeling and ligand docking for Solute Carrier (SLC) transporters 
Solute Carrier (SLC) transporters are membrane proteins that transport solutes, such as ions, metabolites, peptides, and drugs, across biological membranes, using diverse energy coupling mechanisms. In human, there are 386 SLC transporters, many of which contribute to the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of drugs and/or can be targeted directly by therapeutics. Recent atomic structures of SLC transporters determined by X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy have significantly expanded the applicability of structure-based prediction of SLC transporter ligands, by enabling both comparative modeling of additional SLC transporters and virtual screening of small molecules libraries against experimental structures as well as comparative models. In this review, we begin by describing computational tools, including sequence analysis, comparative modeling, and virtual screening, that are used to predict the structures and functions of membrane proteins such as SLC transporters. We then illustrate the applications of these tools to predicting ligand specificities of select SLC transporters, followed by experimental validation using uptake kinetic measurements and other assays. We conclude by discussing future directions in the discovery of the SLC transporter ligands.
PMCID: PMC4056341  PMID: 23578028
Membrane transporter; comparative modeling; ligand docking; protein function prediction; structure-based ligand discovery
13.  Collaborative Development of 2-Hydroxypropyl-β-Cyclodextrin for the Treatment of Niemann-Pick Type C1 Disease 
In 2010, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) established the Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases (TRND) program within the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS), which was created to stimulate drug discovery and development for rare and neglected tropical diseases through a collaborative model between the NIH, academic scientists, nonprofit organizations, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. This paper describes one of the first TRND programs, the development of 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HP-β-CD) for the treatment of Niemann-Pick disease type C1 (NPC1). NPC is a neurodegenerative, autosomal recessive rare disease caused by a mutation in either the NPC1 (about 95% of cases) or the NPC2 gene (about 5% of cases). These mutations affect the intracellular trafficking of cholesterol and other lipids, which leads to a progressive accumulation of unesterified cholesterol and glycosphingolipids in the CNS and visceral organs. Affected individuals typically exhibit ataxia, swallowing problems, seizures, and progressive impairment of motor and intellectual function in early childhood, and usually die in adolescence. There is no disease modifying therapy currently approved for NPC1 in the US. A collaborative drug development program has been established between TRND, public and private partners that has completed the pre-clinical development of HP-β-CD through IND filing for the current Phase I clinical trial that is underway. Here we discuss how this collaborative effort helped to overcome scientific, clinical and financial challenges facing the development of new drug treatments for rare and neglected diseases, and how it will incentivize the commercialization of HP-β-CD for the benefit of the NPC patient community.
PMCID: PMC4048128  PMID: 24283970
2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin; Niemann-Pick disease type C1; neurodegenerative rare disease; translational research
14.  Leveraging Public Private Partnerships to Innovate Under Challenging Budget Times 
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), academic medical centers and industry have a long and productive history in collaborating together. Decreasing R&D budgets both the private and public sector have made the need for such collaborations paramount [critical?] to reduce the risk of [further?] declines in the number of innovative drugs reaching the market to address pressing public health needs. Doing more with less has forced both industry and public sector research institutions (PSRIs) to leverage resources and expertise in order to de-risk projects. In addition, it provides an opportunity to envision and implement new approaches to accomplish these goals. We discuss several of these innovative collaborations and partnerships at the NIH that demonstrate how the NIH and industry are working together to strenghten the drug development pipeline.
PMCID: PMC4023345  PMID: 24283971
collaboration; de-risking; drug repurposing; drug rescue; public private partnerships; technology transfer; translational
15.  In silico prediction of brain exposure: drug free fraction, unbound brain to plasma concentration ratio and equilibrium half-life 
The focus of CNS drug pharmacokinetics programs has recently shifted from determining the total concentrations in brain and blood to considering also unbound fractions and concentrations. Unfortunately, assessing unbound brain exposure experimentally requires demanding in vivo and in vitro studies.
We propose a physical model, based on lipid binding and pH partitioning, to predict in silico the unbound volume of distribution in the brain. The model takes into account the partition of a drug into lipids, interstitial fluid and intracellular compartments of the brain. The results are in good agreement with the experimental data, suggesting that the contributions of lipid binding and pH partitioning are important in determining drug exposure in brain. The predicted values are used, together with predictions for plasma protein binding, as corrective terms in a second model to derive the unbound brain to plasma concentration ratio starting from experimental values of total concentration ratio. The calculated values of brain free fraction and passive permeability are also used to qualitatively determine the brain to plasma equilibration time in a model that shows promising results but is limited to a very small set of compounds.
The models we propose are a step forward in understanding and predicting pharmacologically relevant exposure in brain starting from compounds’ chemical structure and neuropharmacokinetics, by using experimental total brain to plasma ratios, in silico calculated properties and simple physics-based approaches. The models can be used in central nervous system drug discovery programs for a fast and cheap assessment of unbound brain exposure. For existing compounds, the unbound ratios can be derived from experimental values of total brain to plasma ratios. For both existing and hypothetical compounds, the unbound volume of distribution due to lipid binding and pH partitioning can be calculated starting only from the chemical structure.
PMCID: PMC4005893  PMID: 23578025
Brain equilibration time; Brain unbound volume of distribution; CNS exposure; Unbound brain to plasma concentration ratio
16.  Protein Homeostasis as a Therapeutic Target for Diseases of Protein Conformation† 
Current topics in medicinal chemistry  2012;12(22):2623-2640.
Protein misfolding and aggregation are widely implicated in an increasing number of human diseases providing for new therapeutic opportunities targeting protein homeostasis (proteostasis). The cellular response to proteotoxicity is highly regulated by stress signaling pathways, molecular chaperones, transport and clearance machineries that function as a proteostasis network (PN) to protect the stability and functional properties of the proteome. Consequently, the PN is essential at the cellular and organismal level for development and lifespan. However, when challenged during aging, stress, and disease, the folding and clearance machineries can become compromised leading to both gain-of-function and loss-of-function proteinopathies. Here, we assess the role of small molecules that activate the heat shock response, the unfolded protein response, and clearance mechanisms to increase PN capacity and protect cellular proteostasis against proteotoxicity. We propose that this strategy to enhance cell stress pathways and chaperone activity establishes a cytoprotective state against misfolding and/or aggregation and represents a promising therapeutic avenue to prevent the cellular damage associated with the variety of protein conformational diseases.
PMCID: PMC3955168  PMID: 23339312
Protein conformational diseases; proteostasis network; proteostasis regulators; stress responses
17.  Vascularization of Engineered Tissues: Approaches to Promote Angio-genesis in Biomaterials 
Although there have been extensive research efforts to create functional tissues and organs, most successes in tissue engineering have been limited to avascular or thin tissues. The major hurdle in development of more complex tissues lies in the formation of vascular networks capable of delivering oxygen and nutrients throughout the engineered constructs. Sufficient neovascularization in scaffold materials can be achieved through coordinated application of angiogenic factors with proper cell types in biomaterials. This review present the current research developments in the design of biomaterials and their biochemical and biochemical modifications to produce vascularized tissue constructs.
PMCID: PMC3929210  PMID: 18393893
Tissue engineering; vascularization; angiogenesis; scaffold; biomaterials
18.  Recent Advances Toward Improving the Bioavailability of Neuronal Nitric Oxide Synthase Inhibitors 
Overproduction of nitric oxide by neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) has been highly correlated with numerous neurodegenerative diseases and stroke. Given its role in human diseases, nNOS is an important target for therapy that deserves further attention. During the last decade, a large number of organic scaffolds have been investigated to develop selective nNOS inhibitors, resulting in two principal classes of compounds, 2-aminopyridines and thiophene-2-carboximidamides. The former compounds were investigated in detail by our group, exhibiting great potency and excellent selectivity; however, they suffer from poor bioavailability, which hampers their therapeutic potential. Here we present a review of various strategies adopted by our group to improve the bioavailability of 2-aminopyridine derivatives and describe recent advances in thiophene-2-carboximidamide based nNOS-selective inhibitors, which exhibit promising pharmacological profiles.
PMCID: PMC3914398  PMID: 23578024
Bioavailability; Neuronal Nitric Oxide Synthase; Inhibitor; Isoform selectivity; 2-Aminopyridine; Thiophene-2-carboximidamide
19.  The Nociceptin/Orphanin FQ Receptor (NOP) as a Target for Drug Abuse Medications 
Several studies show that the nociceptin receptor NOP plays a role in the regulation of reward and motivation pathways related to substance abuse. Administration of the NOP’s natural peptide ligand, Nociceptin/Orphanin FQ (N/OFQ) or synthetic agonist Ro 64-6198 has been shown to block rewarding effects of cocaine, morphine, amphetamines and alcohol, in various behavioral models of drug reward and reinforcement, such as conditioned place preference and drug self-administration. Administration of N/OFQ has been shown to reduce drug-stimulated levels of dopamine in mesolimbic pathways. The NOP-N/OFQ system has been particularly well examined in the development of alcohol abuse in animal models. Furthermore, the efficacy of the mixed-action opioid buprenorphine, in attenuating alcohol consumption in human addicts and in alcohol-preferring animal models, at higher doses, has been attributed to its partial agonist activity at the NOP receptor. These studies suggest that NOP receptor agonists may have potential as drug abuse medications. However, the pathophysiology of addiction is complex and drug addiction pharmacotherapy needs to address the various phases of substance addiction (craving, withdrawal, relapse). Further studies are needed to clearly establish how NOP agonists may attenuate the drug addiction process and provide therapeutic benefit. Addiction to multiple abused drugs (polydrug addiction) is now commonplace and presents a treatment challenge, given the limited pharmacotherapies currently approved. Polydrug addiction may not be adequately treated by a single agent with a single mechanism of action. As with the case of buprenorphine, a mixed-action profile of NOP/opioid activity may provide a more effective drug to treat addiction to various abused substances and/or polydrug addiction.
PMCID: PMC3899399  PMID: 21050175
Nociceptin receptor ligands; NOP ligands; NOP receptor; mixed-action opioids; NOP/opioid ligands; drug addiction; polydrug addiction
20.  Sleep-active neuronal nitric oxide synthase-positive cells of the cerebral cortex: a local regulator of sleep? 
Current topics in medicinal chemistry  2011;11(19):2483-2489.
Our recent report demonstrated that a small subset of GABAergic interneurons in the cerebral cortex of rodents expresses Fos protein, a marker for neuronal activity, during slow wave sleep (Gerashchenko et al., 2008). The population of sleep-active neurons consists of strongly immunohistochemically-stained cells for the enzyme neuronal nitric oxide synthase. By virtue of their widespread localization within the cerebral cortex and their widespread projections to other cortical cell types, cortical neuronal nitric oxide synthase-positive neurons are positioned to play a central role in the local regulation of sleep waveforms within the cerebral cortex. Here, we review the possible functions of neuronal nitric oxide synthase and its diffusible gas product, nitric oxide, in regulating neuronal activity, synaptic plasticity and cerebral blood flow within the context of local sleep regulation in the cerebral cortex. We also summarize what is known, in addition to their expression of neuronal nitric oxide synthase, about the biochemical phenotype, synaptic connectivity and electrophysiological properties of this novel sleep-active population of cells. Finally, we raise some critical unanswered questions about the role of this population in local sleep regulation within the cerebral cortex and describe some experimental approaches that might be used to address those questions.
PMCID: PMC3899842  PMID: 21906016
Sleep; nitric oxide; interneurons; electroencephalographic slow waves; cerebral blood flow; neuropeptides; sleep homeostasis; synaptic plasticity
21.  Reviewing Colchicaceae Alkaloids – Perspectives of Evolution on Medicinal Chemistry 
The subject of chemosystematics has provided insight to both botanical classification and drug development. However, degrees of subjectivity in botanical classifications and limited understanding of the evolution of chemical characters and their biosynthetic pathways has often hampered such studies. In this review an approach of taking phylogenetic classification into account in evaluating colchicine and related phenethylisoquinoline alkaloids from the family Colchicaceae will be applied. Following on the trends of utilizing evolutionary reasoning in inferring mechanisms in eg. drug resistance in cancer and infections, this will exemplify how thinking about evolution can influence selection of plant material in drug lead discovery, and how knowledge about phylogenetic relationships may be used to evaluate predicted biosynthetic pathways.
PMCID: PMC3884533  PMID: 24359194
Alkaloids; biosynthetic pathways; colchicaceae; colchicine; evolution; phylogenetic prediction.
22.  Impact of Quaternary Structure Dynamics on Allosteric Drug Discovery 
The morpheein model of allosteric regulation draws attention to proteins that can exist as an equilibrium of functionally distinct assemblies where: one subunit conformation assembles into one multimer; a different subunit conformation assembles into a different multimer; and the various multimers are in a dynamic equilibrium whose position can be modulated by ligands that bind to a multimer-specific ligand binding site. The case study of porphobilinogen synthase (PBGS) illustrates how such an equilibrium holds lessons for disease mechanisms, drug discovery, understanding drug side effects, and identifying proteins wherein drug discovery efforts might focus on quaternary structure dynamics. The morpheein model of allostery has been proposed as applicable for a wide assortment of disease-associated proteins (Selwood, T., Jaffe, E., (2012) Arch. Bioch. Biophys, 519:131–143). Herein we discuss quaternary structure dynamics aspects to drug discovery for the disease-associated putative morpheeins phenylalanine hydroxylase, HIV integrase, pyruvate kinase, and tumor necrosis factor α. Also highlighted is the quaternary structure equilibrium of transthyretin and successful drug discovery efforts focused on controlling its quaternary structure dynamics.
PMCID: PMC3631351  PMID: 23409765
HIV integrase; morpheein; phenylalanine hydroxylase; porphobilinogen synthase; pyruvate kinase; transthyretin; tumor necrosis factor alpha; protein dynamics
23.  Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) Channels and Cardiac Fibrosis 
Cardiac fibrosis is associated with most cardiac diseases. Fibrosis is an accumulation of excessive extracellular matrix proteins (ECM) synthesized by cardiac fibroblasts and myofibroblasts. Fibroblasts are the most prevalent cell type in the heart, comprising 75% of cardiac cells. Myofibroblasts are hardly present in healthy normal heart tissue, but appear abundantly in diseased hearts. Cardiac fibroblasts are activated by a variety of pathological stimuli, such as myocardial injury, oxidative stress, mechanical stretch, and elevated autocrine-paracrine mediators, thereby undergoing proliferation, differentiation to myofibroblasts, and production of various cytokines and ECM proteins. A number of signaling pathways and bioactive molecules are involved and work in concert to activate fibroblasts and myofibroblasts in the fibrogenesis cascade. Fibroblasts and myofibroblasts are not only principal ECM producers, but also play a central role in fibrogenesis and myocardial remodeling in fibrotic heart disease. Thus, understanding the biological processes of cardiac fibroblasts will provide novel insights into the underlying mechanisms of fibrosis and provide potential targets for developing anti-fibrotic drugs. Recent studies demonstrate that Ca2+ signal is essential for fibroblast proliferation, differentiation, and ECM-protein production. This review focuses on the recent advances in understanding molecular mechanisms of Ca2+ signaling in cardiac fibrogenesis, and potential role of Ca2+-permeable channels, in particular, the transient potential (TRP) channels in fibrotic heart disease. TRP channels are highly expressed in cardiac fibroblasts. TRPM7 has been shown to be essential in TGFβ1 mediated fibrogenesis, and TRPC3 has been demonstrated to play an essential role in regulating fibroblast function. Thus, the Ca2+-permeable TRP channels may serve as potential novel targets for developing anti-fibrotic drugs.
PMCID: PMC3874073  PMID: 23432060
TRP channels; fibroblasts; fibrosis; remodeling; extracellular matrix
24.  Fragment-Based Optimization of Small Molecule CXCL12 Inhibitors for Antagonizing the CXCL12/CXCR4 Interaction 
Current topics in medicinal chemistry  2012;12(24):2727-2740.
The chemokine CXCL12 and its G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) CXCR4 are high-priority clinical targets because of their involvement in metastatic cancers (also implicated in autoimmune disease and cardiovascular disease). Because chemokines interact with two distinct sites to bind and activate their receptors, both the GPCRs and chemokines are potential targets for small molecule inhibition. A number of chemokines have been validated as targets for drug development, but virtually all drug discovery efforts focus on the GPCRs. However, all CXCR4 receptor antagonists with the exception of MSX-122 have failed in clinical trials due to unmanageable toxicities, emphasizing the need for alternative strategies to interfere with CXCL12/CXCR4-guided metastatic homing. Although targeting the relatively featureless surface of CXCL12 was presumed to be challenging, focusing efforts at the sulfotyrosine (sY) binding pockets proved successful for procuring initial hits. Using a hybrid structure-based in silico/NMR screening strategy, we recently identified a ligand that occludes the receptor recognition site. From this initial hit, we designed a small fragment library containing only nine tetrazole derivatives using a fragment-based and bioisostere approach to target the sY binding sites of CXCL12. Compound binding modes and affinities were studied by 2D NMR spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, molecular docking and cell-based functional assays. Our results demonstrate that the sY binding sites are conducive to the development of high affinity inhibitors with better ligand efficiency (LE) than typical protein-protein interaction inhibitors (LE ≤ 0.24). Our novel tetrazole-based fragment 18 was identified to bind the sY21 site with a Kd of 24 μM (LE = 0.30). Optimization of 18 yielded compound 25 which specifically inhibits CXCL12-induced migration with an improvement in potency over the initial hit 9. The fragment from this library that exhibited the highest affinity and ligand efficiency (11: Kd = 13 μM, LE = 0.33) may serve as a starting point for development of inhibitors targeting the sY12 site.
PMCID: PMC3839847  PMID: 23368099
Chemokines; CXCL12/CXCR4 inhibitors; protein-protein interaction; metastasis; fragment-based and structure-guided drug design
25.  Adenylating Enzymes in Mycobacterium tuberculosis as Drug Targets 
Adenylation or adenylate-forming enzymes (AEs) are widely found in nature and are responsible for the activation of carboxylic acids to intermediate acyladenylates, which are mixed anhydrides of AMP. In a second reaction, AEs catalyze the transfer of the acyl group of the acyladenylate onto a nucleophilic amino, alcohol, or thiol group of an acceptor molecule leading to amide, ester, and thioester products, respectively. Mycobacterium tuberculosis encodes for more than 60 adenylating enzymes, many of which represent potential drug targets due to their confirmed essentiality or requirement for virulence. Several strategies have been used to develop potent and selective AE inhibitors including high-throughput screening, fragment-based screening, and the rationale design of bisubstrate inhibitors that mimic the acyladenylate. In this review, a comprehensive analysis of the mycobacterial adenylating enzymes will be presented with a focus on the identification of small molecule inhibitors. Specifically, this review will cover the aminoacyl tRNA-synthetases (aaRSs), MenE required for menaquinone synthesis, the FadD family of enzymes including the fatty acyl-AMP ligases (FAAL) and the fatty acyl-CoA ligases (FACLs) involved in lipid metabolism, and the nonribosomal peptide synthetase adenylation enzyme MbtA that is necessary for mycobactin synthesis. Additionally, the enzymes NadE, GuaA, PanC, and MshC involved in the respective synthesis of NAD, guanine, pantothenate, and mycothiol will be discussed as well as BirA that is responsible for biotinylation of the acyl CoA-carboxylases.
PMCID: PMC3808994  PMID: 22283817
Adenylation; adenylate-forming; tuberculosis; bisubstrate inhibitor

Results 1-25 (102)