W5.43(194), a conserved tryptophan residue among G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and cannabinoid receptors (CB), was examined in the present report for its significance in CB2 receptor ligand binding and adenylyl cyclase (AC) activity. Computer modeling postulates that this site in CB2 may be involved in the affinity of WIN55212-2 and SR144528 through aromatic contacts. In the present study, we reported that a CB2 receptor mutant, W5.43(194)Y, which had a tyrosine (Y) substitution for tryptophan (W), retained the binding affinity for CB agonist CP55940, but reduced binding affinity for CB2 agonist WIN55212-2 and inverse agonist SR144528 by 8-fold and 5-fold, respectively; the CB2 W5.43(194)F and W5.43(194)A mutations significantly affect the binding activities of CP55940, WIN55212-2 and SR144528. Furthermore, we found that agonist-mediated inhibition of the forskolin-induced cAMP production was dramatically diminished in the CB2 mutant W5.43(194)Y, whereas W5.43(194)F and W5.43(194)A mutants resulted in complete elimination of downstream signaling, suggesting that W5.43(194) was essential for the full activation of CB2. These results indicate that both aromatic interaction and hydrogen bonding are involved in ligand binding for the residue W5.43(194), and the mutations of this tryptophan site may affect the conformation of the ligand binding pocket and therefore control the active conformation of the wild type CB2 receptor. W5.43(194)Y/F/A mutations also displayed noticeable enhancement of the constitutive activation probably attributed to the receptor conformational changes resulted from the mutations.
G-protein coupled receptors; cannabinoid receptor CB2; ligand binding and G-protein signaling; tryptophan; site-directed mutagenesis; Computer modeling
The natural product (−)-dictyostatin is a microtubule stabilizing agent that potently inhibits the growth of human cancer cells including paclitaxel-resistant clones. Extensive structure-activity relationship studies have revealed several regions of the molecule that could be altered without loss of activity. The most potent synthetic dictyostatin analog described to date, 6-epi-dictyostatin, has in vivo antitumor activity against human breast cancer xenografts superior to paclitaxel. Despite their encouraging preclinical activities, the complex chemical structure of the dictyostatins presents a major obstacle in their development into novel antineoplastic therapies. We recently reported a streamlined synthesis of 16-desmethyl-25,26 dihydrodictyostatins and found several agents that compared with 6-epi-dictyostatin retained nanomolar activity in cellular microtubule bundling assays but showed cross-resistance to paclitaxel in cells with mutations in beta-tubulin. Extending these studies, we applied the new, highly convergent synthesis to generate 25,26-dihydrodictyostatin and 6-epi-25,26-dihydrodictyostatin. Both compounds were potent microtubule perturbing agents that induced mitotic arrest and microtubule assembly in vitro and in intact cells. In vitro radioligand binding studies showed that 25,26-dihydrodictyostatin and its C-6 epimer were able to displace [3H]paclitaxel and [14C]epothilone B from microtubules with potencies comparable to (−)-dictyostatin and discodermolide. Both compounds inhibited the growth of paclitaxel- and epothilone B-resistant cell lines at low nanomolar concentrations, synergized with paclitaxel in MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells, and had antiangiogenic activity in transgenic zebrafish larvae. The data identify 25,26-dihydrodictyostatin and 6-epi-25,26-dihydrodictyostatin as candidates for scale-up synthesis and further preclinical development.
dictyostatin; high-content screening; multidrug resistance; zebrafish; angiogenesis
Protein kinase D (PKD) is a member of a novel family of serine/threonine kinases that regulate fundamental cellular processes. PKD is implicated in the pathogenesis of several diseases, including cancer. Progress in understanding the biological functions and therapeutic potential of PKD has been hampered by the lack of specific inhibitors. The benzoxoloazepinolone CID755673 was recently identified as the first potent and selective PKD inhibitor. The study of structure-activity relationships (SAR) of this lead structure led to further improvements in PKD1 potency. We describe herein the synthesis and biological evaluation of novel benzothienothiazepinone analogs. We achieved a ten-fold increase in the in vitro PKD1 inhibitory potency for the second generation lead kb-NB142-70 and accomplished a transition to an almost equally potent novel pyrimidine scaffold, while maintaining excellent target selectivity. These promising results will guide the design of pharmacological tools to dissect PKD function and pave the way for the development of potential anti-cancer agents.
Protein kinase D; small molecule inhibitor; benzothienothiazepinone; pyrimidines; CID755673
Protein kinase D (PKD) belongs to a family of serine/threonine kinases that play an important role in basic cellular processes and are implicated in the pathogenesis of several diseases. Progress in our understanding of the biological functions of PKD has been limited due to the lack of a PKD-specific inhibitor. The benzoxoloazepinolone CID755673 was recently reported as the first potent and kinase-selective inhibitor for this enzyme. For structure-activity analysis purposes, a series of analogs was prepared and their in vitro inhibitory potency evaluated.
protein kinase D; small molecule inhibitor; benzothienothiazepinone; pyrimidines; CID755673; thiazepinothiophenopyrimidinone
Protein kinase D is a novel family of serine/threonine kinases and diacylglycerol receptors that belongs to the calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinase superfamily. Evidence has established that specific PKD isoforms are dysregulated in several cancer types, and PKD involvement has been documented in a variety of cellular processes important to cancer development, including cell growth, apoptosis, motility, and angiogenesis. In light of this, there has been a recent surge in the development of novel chemical inhibitors of PKD. This review focuses on the potential of PKD as a chemotherapeutic target in cancer treatment and highlights important recent advances in the development of PKD inhibitors.
Protein kinase D; cancer; small molecule inhibitors
Diagnosis of cardiovascular disease is currently limited by the testing modality. Serum tests for biomarkers can provide quantification of severity but lack the ability to localize the source of the cardiovascular disease, while imaging technology such as angiography and ultrasound can only determine areas of reduced flow but not the severity of tissue ischemia. Targeted imaging with ultrasound contrast agents offers the ability to locally image as well as determine the degree of ischemia by utilizing agents that will cause the contrast agent to home to the affected tissue. Ultrasound molecular imaging via targeted microbubbles (MB) is currently limited by its sensitivity to molecular markers of disease relative to other techniques (e.g. radiolabeling). We hypothesize that computational modeling may provide a useful first approach to maximize microbubble binding by defining key parameters governing adhesion. Adhesive Dynamics was used to simulate the fluid dynamic and stochastic molecular binding of microbubbles to inflamed endothelial cells. Sialyl LewisX (sLex), P-selectin aptamer (PSA), and ICAM-1 antibody (abICAM) were modeled as the targeting receptors on the microbubble surface in both single-and dual-targeted arrangements. Microbubble properties (radius [Rc], kinetics [kf, kr] and densities of targeting receptors) and the physical environment (shear rate and target ligand densities) were modeled. The kinetics for sLex and PSA were measured with surface plasmon resonance. Rc, shear rate, and densities of sLex, PSA or abICAM were varied independently to assess model sensitivity. Firm adhesion was defined as MB velocity < 2% of the free stream velocity. Adhesive Dynamics simulations revealed an optimal microbubble radius of 1–2 μm and thresholds for kinf (>102 sec−1) and kor (<10−3 sec−1) for firm adhesion in a multi-targeted system. State diagrams for multi-targeted microbubbles suggest sLex and abICAM microbubbles may require 10-fold more ligand to achieve firm adhesion at higher shear rates than sLex and PSA microbubbles. The Adhesive Dynamics model gives useful insight into the key parameters for stable microbubble binding, and may allow flexible, prospective design and optimization of microbubbles to enhance clinical translation of ultrasound molecular imaging.
Targeted Ultrasound Contrast; Computational Modeling; Adhesive Dynamics; Surface Plasmon Resonance; Stochastic Model; Microbubbles
Protein kinase D (PKD) is a novel family of serine/threonine kinases regulated by diacylglycerol, which is involved in multiple cellular processes and various pathological conditions. The limited number of cell-active, selective inhibitors has historically restricted biochemical and pharmacological studies of PKD. We now markedly expand the PKD1 inhibitory chemotype inventory with eleven additional novel small molecule PKD1 inhibitors derived from our high throughput screening campaigns. The in vitro IC50s for these eleven compounds ranged in potency from 0.4 to 6.1 µM with all of the evaluated compounds being competitive with ATP. Three of the inhibitors (CID 1893668, (1Z)-1-(3-ethyl-5-methoxy-1,3-benzothiazol-2-ylidene)propan-2-one; CID 2011756, 5-(3-chlorophenyl)-N-[4-(morpholin-4-ylmethyl)phenyl]furan-2-carboxamide; CID 5389142, (6Z)-6-[4-(3-aminopropylamino)-6-methyl-1H-pyrimidin-2-ylidene]cyclohexa-2,4-dien-1-one) inhibited phorbol ester-induced endogenous PKD1 activation in LNCaP prostate cancer cells in a concentration-dependent manner. The specificity of these compounds for PKD1 inhibitory activity was supported by kinase assay counter screens as well as by bioinformatics searches. Moreover, computational analyses of these novel cell-active PKD1 inhibitors indicated that they were structurally distinct from the previously described cell-active PKD1 inhibitors while computational docking of the new cell-active compounds in a highly conserved ATP-binding cleft suggests opportunities for structural modification. In summary, we have discovered novel PKD1 inhibitors with in vitro and cell-based inhibitory activity, thus successfully expanding the structural diversity of small molecule inhibitors available for this important pharmacological target.
We present here the characterization and optimization of a novel imaging-based positional biosensor high-content screening (HCS) assay to identify disruptors of p53-hDM2 protein–protein interactions (PPIs). The chimeric proteins of the biosensor incorporated the N-terminal PPI domains of p53 and hDM2, protein targeting sequences (nuclear localization and nuclear export sequence), and fluorescent reporters, which when expressed in cells could be used to monitor p53-hDM2 PPIs through changes in the subcellular localization of the hDM2 component of the biosensor. Coinfection with the recombinant adenovirus biosensors was used to express the NH-terminal domains of p53 and hDM2, fused to green fluorescent protein and red fluorescent protein, respectively, in U-2 OS cells. We validated the p53-hDM2 PPI biosensor (PPIB) HCS assay with Nutlin-3, a compound that occupies the hydrophobic pocket on the surface of the N-terminus of hDM2 and blocks the binding interactions with the N-terminus of p53. Nutlin-3 disrupted the p53-hDM2 PPIB in a concentration-dependent manner and provided a robust, reproducible, and stable assay signal window that was compatible with HCS. The p53-hDM2 PPIB assay was readily implemented in HCS and we identified four (4) compounds in the 1,280-compound Library of Pharmacologically Active Compounds that activated the p53 signaling pathway and elicited biosensor signals that were clearly distinct from the responses of inactive compounds. Anthracycline (topoisomerase II inhibitors such as mitoxantrone and ellipticine) and camptothecin (topoisomerase I inhibitor) derivatives including topotecan induce DNA double strand breaks, which activate the p53 pathway through the ataxia telangiectasia mutated-checkpoint kinase 2 (ATM-CHK2) DNA damage response pathway. Although mitoxantrone, ellipticine, camptothecin, and topotecan all exhibited concentration-dependent disruption of the p53-hDM2 PPIB, they were much less potent than Nutlin-3. Further, their corresponding cellular images and quantitative HCS data did not completely match the Nutlin-3 phenotypic profile.
We have screened the Library of Pharmacologically Active Compounds (LOPAC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Small Molecule Repository (SMR) libraries in a horseradish peroxidase–phenol red (HRP-PR) H2O2 detection assay to identify redox cycling compounds (RCCs) capable of generating H2O2 in buffers containing dithiothreitol (DTT). Two RCCs were identified in the LOPAC set, the ortho-naphthoquinone β-lapachone and the para-naphthoquinone NSC 95397. Thirty-seven (0.02%) concentration-dependent RCCs were identified from 195,826 compounds in the NIH SMR library; 3 singleton structures, 9 ortho-quinones, 2 para-quinones, 4 pyrimidotriazinediones, 15 arylsulfonamides, 2 nitrothiophene-2-carboxylates, and 2 tolyl hydrazides. Sixty percent of the ortho-quinones and 80% of the pyrimidotriazinediones in the library were confirmed as RCCs. In contrast, only 3.9% of the para-quinones were confirmed as RCCs. Fifteen of the 251 arylsulfonamides in the library were confirmed as RCCs, and since we screened 17,868 compounds with a sulfonamide functional group we conclude that the redox cycling activity of the arylsulfonamide RCCs is due to peripheral reactive enone, aromatic, or heterocyclic functions. Cross-target queries of the University of Pittsburgh Drug Discovery Institute (UPDDI) and PubChem databases revealed that the RCCs exhibited promiscuous bioactivity profiles and have populated both screening databases with significantly higher numbers of active flags than non-RCCs. RCCs were promiscuously active against protein targets known to be susceptible to oxidation, but were also active in cell growth inhibition assays, and against other targets thought to be insensitive to oxidation. Profiling compound libraries or the hits from screening campaigns in the HRP-PR H2O2 detection assay significantly reduce the timelines and resources required to identify and eliminate promiscuous nuisance RCCs from the candidates for lead optimization.
Mitochondrial targeted radiation damage protectors (delivered prior to irradiation) and mitigators (delivered after irradiation, but before the appearance of symptoms associated with radiation syndrome) have been a recent focus in drug discovery for (1) normal tissue radiation protection during fractionated radiotherapy, and (2) radiation terrorism counter measures. Several categories of such molecules have been discovered: nitroxide-linked hybrid molecules, including GS-nitroxide, GS-nitric oxide synthase inhibitors, p53/mdm2/mdm4 inhibitors, and pharmaceutical agents including inhibitors of the phosphoinositide-3-kinase pathway and the anti-seizure medicine, carbamazepine. Evaluation of potential new radiation dose modifying molecules to protect normal tissue includes: clonogenic radiation survival curves, assays for apoptosis and DNA repair, and irradiation-induced depletion of antioxidant stores. Studies of organ specific radioprotection and in total body irradiation-induced hematopoietic syndrome in the mouse model for protection/mitigation facilitate rational means by which to move candidate small molecule drugs along the drug discovery pipeline into clinical development.
radiation mitigators; radioprotectors; small molecules; mitochondria
Malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum is a catastrophic disease worldwide (880,000 deaths yearly). Vaccine development has proved difficult and resistance has emerged for most antimalarials. In order to discover new antimalarial chemotypes, we have employed a phenotypic forward chemical genetic approach to assay 309,474 chemicals. Here we disclose structures and biological activity of the entire library, many of which exhibited potent in vitro activity against drug resistant strains, and detailed profiling of 172 representative candidates. A reverse chemical genetic study identified 19 new inhibitors of 4 validated drug targets and 15 novel binders among 61 malarial proteins. Phylochemogenetic profiling in multiple organisms revealed similarities between Toxoplasma gondii and mammalian cell lines and dissimilarities between P. falciparum and related protozoans. One exemplar compound displayed efficacy in a murine model. Overall, our findings provide the scientific community with new starting points for malaria drug discovery.
The development of preclinical models amenable to live animal bioactive compound screening is an attractive approach to discovering effective pharmacological therapies for disorders caused by misfolded and aggregation-prone proteins. In general, however, live animal drug screening is labor and resource intensive, and has been hampered by the lack of robust assay designs and high throughput work-flows. Based on their small size, tissue transparency and ease of cultivation, the use of C. elegans should obviate many of the technical impediments associated with live animal drug screening. Moreover, their genetic tractability and accomplished record for providing insights into the molecular and cellular basis of human disease, should make C. elegans an ideal model system for in vivo drug discovery campaigns. The goal of this study was to determine whether C. elegans could be adapted to high-throughput and high-content drug screening strategies analogous to those developed for cell-based systems. Using transgenic animals expressing fluorescently-tagged proteins, we first developed a high-quality, high-throughput work-flow utilizing an automated fluorescence microscopy platform with integrated image acquisition and data analysis modules to qualitatively assess different biological processes including, growth, tissue development, cell viability and autophagy. We next adapted this technology to conduct a small molecule screen and identified compounds that altered the intracellular accumulation of the human aggregation prone mutant that causes liver disease in α1-antitrypsin deficiency. This study provides powerful validation for advancement in preclinical drug discovery campaigns by screening live C. elegans modeling α1-antitrypsin deficiency and other complex disease phenotypes on high-content imaging platforms.
MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that participate in diverse biological processes by suppressing target gene expression. Altered expression of miR-21 has been reported in cancer. To gain insights in its potential role in tumorigenesis, we generated miR-21 knockout colon cancer cells through gene targeting. Unbiased microarray analysis combined with bioinformatics identified cell cycle regulator Cdc25A as a miR-21 target. miR-21 suppressed Cdc25A expression through a defined sequence in its 3′UTR. We found that miR-21 is induced by serum starvation and DNA damage, negatively regulates G1-S transition, and participates in DNA damage-induced G2-M checkpoint through downregulation of Cdc25A. In contrast, miR-21 deficiency did not affect apoptosis induced by a variety of commonly used anticancer agents or cell proliferation under normal cell culture conditions. Furthermore, miR-21 was found to be underexpressed in a subset of Cdc25A overexpressing colon cancers. Our data demonstrated a role of miR-21 in modulating cell cycle progression following stress, providing a novel mechanism of Cdc25A regulation and a potential explanation of miR-21 in tumorigenesis.
MicroRNA-21; Cdc25A; cell cycle; DNA damage; colon cancer
To assist in screening existing drugs for use as potential radioprotectors, we used a human unbiased 16,560 short interfering RNA (siRNA) library targeting the druggable genome. We performed a synthetic protection screen that was designed to identify genes that, when silenced, protected human glioblastoma T98G cells from γ-radiation-induced cell death. We identified 116 candidate protective genes, then identified 10 small molecule inhibitors of 13 of these candidate gene products and tested their radioprotective effects. Glyburide, a clinically used second-generation hypoglycemic drug, effectively decreased radiation-induced cell death in several cell lines including T98G, glioblastoma U-87 MG, and normal lung epithelial BEAS-2B and in primary cultures of astrocytes. Glyburide significantly increased the survival of 32D cl3 murine hematopoietic progenitor cells when administrated before irradiation. Glyburide was radioprotective in vivo (90% of C57BL/6NHsd female mice pretreated with 10 mg/kg glyburide survived 9.5 Gy total-body irradiation compared to 42% of irradiated controls, P = 0.0249). These results demonstrate the power of unbiased siRNA synthetic protection screening with a druggable genome library to identify new radioprotectors.
The University of Pittsburgh Molecular Library Screening Center (Pittsburgh, PA) conducted a screen with the National Institutes of Health compound library for inhibitors of in vitro cell division cycle 25 protein (Cdc25) B activity during the pilot phase of the Molecular Library Screening Center Network. Seventy-nine (0.12%) of the 65,239 compounds screened at 10 μM met the active criterion of ≥50% inhibition of Cdc25B activity, and 25 (31.6%) of these were confirmed as Cdc25B inhibitors with 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) values <50 μM. Thirteen of the Cdc25B inhibitors were represented by singleton chemical structures, and 12 were divided among four clusters of related structures. Thirteen (52%) of the Cdc25B inhibitor hits were quinone-based structures. The Cdc25B inhibitors were further characterized in a series of in vitro secondary assays to confirm their activity, to determine their phosphatase selectivity against two other dual-specificity phosphatases, mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase (MKP)-1 and MKP-3, and to examine if the mechanism of Cdc25B inhibition involved oxidation and inactivation. Nine Cdc25B inhibitors did not appear to affect Cdc25B through a mechanism involving oxidation because they did not generate detectable amounts of H2O2 in the presence of dithiothreitol, and their Cdc25B IC50 values were not significantly affected by exchanging the dithiothreitol for β-mercaptoethanol or reduced glutathione or by adding catalase to the assay. Six of the nonoxidative hits were selective for Cdc25B inhibition versus MKP-1 and MKP-3, but only the two bisfuran-containing hits, PubChem substance identifiers 4258795 and 4260465, significantly inhibited the growth of human MBA-MD-435 breast and PC-3 prostate cancer cell lines. To confirm the structure and biological activity of 4260465, the compound was resynthesized along with two analogs. Neither of the substitutions to the two analogs was tolerated, and only the resynthesized hit 26683752 inhibited Cdc25B activity in vitro (IC50 = 13.83 ± 1.0 μM) and significantly inhibited the growth of the MBA-MD-435 breast and PC-3 prostate cancer cell lines (IC50 = 20.16 ± 2.0 μM and 24.87 ± 2.25 μM, respectively). The two bis-furan-containing hits identified in the screen represent novel nonoxidative Cdc25B inhibitor chemotypes that block tumor cell proliferation. The availability of non-redox active Cdc25B inhibitors should provide valuable tools to explore the inhibition of the Cdc25 phosphatases as potential mono- or combination therapies for cancer.
Protein kinase D (PKD) has been implicated in a wide range of cellular processes and pathological conditions including cancer. However, targeting PKD therapeutically and dissecting PKD-mediated cellular responses remains difficult due to lack of a potent and selective inhibitor. Previously, we identified a novel pan-PKD inhibitor, CID755673, with potency in the upper nanomolar range and high selectivity for PKD. In an effort to further enhance its selectivity and potency for potential in vivo application, small molecule analogs of CID755673 were generated by modifying both the core structure and side-chains.
After initial activity screening, five analogs with equal or greater potencies as CID755673 were chosen for further analysis: kb-NB142-70, kb-NB165-09, kb-NB165-31, kb-NB165-92, and kb-NB184-02. Our data showed that modifications to the aromatic core structure in particular significantly increased potency while retaining high specificity for PKD. When tested in prostate cancer cells, all compounds inhibited PMA-induced autophosphorylation of PKD1, with kb-NB142-70 being most active. Importantly, these analogs caused a dramatic arrest in cell proliferation accompanying elevated cytotoxicity when applied to prostate cancer cells. Cell migration and invasion were also inhibited by these analogs with varying potencies that correlated to their cellular activity.
Throughout the battery of experiments, the compounds kb-NB142-70 and kb-NB165-09 emerged as the most potent and specific analogs in vitro and in cells. These compounds are undergoing further testing for their effectiveness as pharmacological tools for dissecting PKD function and as potential anti-cancer agents in the treatment of prostate cancer.
Nef is an HIV-1 accessory protein essential for AIDS progression and an attractive target for drug discovery. Lack of a catalytic function makes Nef difficult to assay in chemical library screens. We developed a high-throughput screening assay for inhibitors of Nef function by coupling it to one of its host cell binding partners, the Src-family kinase Hck. Hck activation is dependent upon Nef in this assay, providing a direct readout of Nef activity in vitro. Using this screen, a unique diphenylfuropyrimidine was identified as a strong inhibitor of Nef-dependent Hck activation. This compound also exhibited remarkable antiretroviral effects, blocking Nef-dependent HIV replication in cell culture. Structurally related analogs were synthesized and shown to exhibit similar Nef-dependent anti-viral activity, identifying the diphenylfuropyrimidine substructure as a new lead for antiretroviral drug development. This study demonstrates that coupling non-catalytic HIV accessory factors with host cell target proteins addressable by high-throughput assays may afford new avenues for the discovery of anti-HIV agents.
Presently, the zebrafish is the only vertebrate model compatible with contemporary paradigms of drug discovery. Zebrafish embryos are amenable to automation necessary for high-throughput chemical screens, and optical transparency makes them potentially suited for image-based screening. However, the lack of tools for automated analysis of complex images presents an obstacle to utilizing the zebrafish as a high-throughput screening model. We have developed an automated system for imaging and analyzing zebrafish embryos in multi-well plates regardless of embryo orientation and without user intervention. Images of fluorescent embryos were acquired on a high-content reader and analyzed using an artificial intelligence-based image analysis method termed Cognition Network Technology (CNT). CNT reliably detected transgenic fluorescent embryos (Tg(fli1:EGFP)y1) arrayed in 96-well plates and quantified intersegmental blood vessel development in embryos treated with small molecule inhibitors of anigiogenesis. The results demonstrate it is feasible to adapt image-based high-content screening methodology to measure complex whole organism phenotypes.
cognition network technology; high-content screening; angiogenesis; pironetin; zebrafish
Some simplified adociaquinone B analogs and a series of 1,4-naphthoquinone derivatives were synthesized and tested against the three enzymes Cdc25B, MKP-1, and MKP-3. Cdc25B and MKP1 in particular are enzymes overexpressed in human cancer cells, and they represent potential molecular targets for novel cancer chemotherapeutic treatments. A number of analogs exhibited significant inhibitory activity against these enzymes, and the bioassay data in addition to structure–activity relationships of these compounds will be discussed.
The parasitic protozoan Trypanosoma brucei utilizes glycolysis exclusively for ATP production during infection of the mammalian host. The first step in this metabolic pathway is mediated by hexokinase (TbHK), an enzyme essential to the parasite that transfers the γ-phospho of ATP to a hexose. Here we describe the identification and confirmation of novel small molecule inhibitors of bacterially expressed TbHK1, one of two TbHKs expressed by T. brucei, using a high throughput screening assay.
Exploiting optimized high throughput screening assay procedures, we interrogated 220,233 unique compounds and identified 239 active compounds from which ten small molecules were further characterized. Computation chemical cluster analyses indicated that six compounds were structurally related while the remaining four compounds were classified as unrelated or singletons. All ten compounds were ∼20-17,000-fold more potent than lonidamine, a previously identified TbHK1 inhibitor. Seven compounds inhibited T. brucei blood stage form parasite growth (0.03≤EC50<3 µM) with parasite specificity of the compounds being demonstrated using insect stage T. brucei parasites, Leishmania promastigotes, and mammalian cell lines. Analysis of two structurally related compounds, ebselen and SID 17387000, revealed that both were mixed inhibitors of TbHK1 with respect to ATP. Additionally, both compounds inhibited parasite lysate-derived HK activity. None of the compounds displayed structural similarity to known hexokinase inhibitors or human African trypanosomiasis therapeutics.
The novel chemotypes identified here could represent leads for future therapeutic development against the African trypanosome.
African sleeping sickness is a disease found in sub-Saharan Africa that is caused by the single-celled parasite Trypanosoma brucei. The drugs used widely now to treat infections are 50 years old and notable for their toxicity, emphasizing the need for development of new therapeutics. In the search for potential drug targets, researchers typically focus on enzymes or proteins that are essential to the survival of the infectious agent while being distinct enough from the host to avoid accidental targeting of the host enzyme. This work describes our research on one such trypanosome enzyme, hexokinase, which is a protein that the parasite requires to make energy. Here we describe the results of our search for inhibitors of the parasite enzyme. By screening 220,223 compounds for anti-hexokinase activity, we have identified new inhibitors of the parasite enzyme. Some of these are toxic to trypanosomes while having no effect on mammalian cells, suggesting that they may hold promise for the development of new anti-parasitic compounds.
A 3-dimensional pharmacophore model was generated utilizing a set of known inhibitors of c-Myc-Max heterodimer formation. The model successfully identified a set of structurally diverse compounds with potential inhibitory activity against c-Myc. Nine compounds were tested in vitro, and four displayed affinities in the µM range and growth inhibitory activity against c-Myc-overexpressing cells. These studies demonstrate the applicability of pharmacophore modeling to the identification of novel and potentially more puissant inhibitors of the c-Myc oncoprotein.
The dual specificity phosphatase 6 (Dusp6) functions as a feedback regulator of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling to limit the activity of extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) 1 and 2. We have identified a small molecule inhibitor of Dusp6, (E)-2-benzylidene-3-(cyclohexylamino)-2,3-dihydro-1H-inden-1-one (BCI), using a transgenic zebrafish chemical screen. BCI treatment blocked Dusp6 activity and enhanced FGF target gene expression in zebrafish embryos. Docking simulations predicted an allosteric binding site for BCI within the phosphatase domain. In vitro studies supported a model that BCI inhibits Dusp6 catalytic activation by ERK2 substrate binding. A temporal role for Dusp6 in restricting cardiac progenitors and controlling heart organ size was uncovered with BCI treatment at varying developmental stages. This study highlights the power of in vivo zebrafish chemical screens to identify novel compounds targeting Dusp6, a component of the FGF signaling pathway that has eluded traditional high-throughput in vitro screens.
Disorazoles comprise a family of 29 macrocyclic polyketides isolated from the fermentation broth of the myxobacterium Sorangium cellulosum. The major fermentation product, disorazole A1, was previously found to irreversibly bind to tubulin and to have potent cytotoxic activity against tumor cells, possibly due to its highly electrophilic epoxide moiety. To test this hypothesis, we synthesized the epoxide-free disorazole C1 and found it retained potent antiproliferative activity against tumor cells, causing prominent G2/M phase arrest and inhibition of in vitro tubulin polymerization. Furthermore, disorazole C1 produced disorganized microtubules at interphase, misaligned chromosomes during mitosis, apoptosis, and premature senescence in the surviving cell populations. Using a tubulin polymerization assay, we found disorazole C1 inhibited purified bovine tubulin polymerization with an IC50 of 11.8 ± 0.4 μM and inhibited [3H]vinblastine binding uncompetitively with a Ki of 4.5 ± 0.6 μM. We also found uncompetitive inhibition of [3H]dolastatin 10 binding by disorazole C1 with a Ki of 10.6 ± 1.5 μM, indicating that disorazole C1 bound tubulin uniquely among known antimitotic agents. Disorazole C1 could be a valuable chemical probe for studying the process of mitotic spindle disruption and its relationship to premature senescence.
Disorazoles are polyene macrodiolides isolated from a myxobacterium fermentation broth. Disorazole C1 was newly synthesized and found to depolymerize microtubules and cause mitotic arrest. Here we examined the cellular responses to disorazole C1 in both non-cancer and cancer cells and compared our results to vinblastine and taxol.
In non-cancer cells, disorazole C1 induced a prolonged mitotic arrest, followed by mitotic slippage, as confirmed by live cell imaging and cell cycle analysis. This mitotic slippage was associated with cyclin B degradation, but did not require p53. Four assays for apoptosis, including western blotting for poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage, microscopic analyses for cytochrome C release and annexin V staining, and gel electrophoresis examination for DNA laddering, were conducted and demonstrated little induction of apoptosis in non-cancer cells treated with disorazole C1. On the contrary, we observed an activated apoptotic pathway in cancer cells, suggesting that normal and malignant cells respond differently to disorazole C1.
Our studies demonstrate that non-cancer cells undergo mitotic slippage in a cyclin B-dependent and p53-independent manner after prolonged mitotic arrest caused by disorazole C1. In contrast, cancer cells induce the apoptotic pathway after disorazole C1 treatment, indicating a possibly significant therapeutic window for this compound.
Patients with clinical manifestations of leishmaniasis, including cutaneous leishmaniasis, have limited treatment options, and existing therapies frequently have significant untoward liabilities. Rapid expansion in the diversity of available cutaneous leishmanicidal chemotypes is the initial step in finding alternative efficacious treatments. To this end, we combined a low-stringency Leishmania major promastigote growth inhibition assay with a structural computational filtering algorithm. After a rigorous assay validation process, we interrogated ∼200,000 unique compounds for L. major promastigote growth inhibition. Using iterative computational filtering of the compounds exhibiting >50% inhibition, we identified 553 structural clusters and 640 compound singletons. Secondary confirmation assays yielded 93 compounds with EC50s ≤ 1 µM, with none of the identified chemotypes being structurally similar to known leishmanicidals and most having favorable in silico predicted bioavailability characteristics. The leishmanicidal activity of a representative subset of 15 chemotypes was confirmed in two independent assay formats, and L. major parasite specificity was demonstrated by assaying against a panel of human cell lines. Thirteen chemotypes inhibited the growth of a L. major axenic amastigote-like population. Murine in vivo efficacy studies using one of the new chemotypes document inhibition of footpad lesion development. These results authenticate that low stringency, large-scale compound screening combined with computational structure filtering can rapidly expand the chemotypes targeting in vitro and in vivo Leishmania growth and viability.
Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease with cutaneous, mucocutaneous and visceral clinical manifestations, depending on the Leishmania spp. and human host. Globally, there are 350 million people at risk of leishmaniasis, but current treatment options rely predominantly on ancient pentavalent antimonials, which have the potential to cause serious systemic toxicity. Our research focuses on the rapid expansion of potential anti-leishmanial compounds that could function as novel chemical structures for future drug development and offer additional therapeutic options to patients with leishmaniasis. We combined high throughput screening methodologies with computational algorithms and multiple confirmatory assay formats to identify and characterize new potent L. major promastigote growth inhibitors, including one that displays in vivo activity without toxicity to human cells. Our use of a large, broadly distributed compound library enabled the identification of these new chemotypes. In addition, since this chemical library is publicly available and annotated, we were able to cross-query archived bioassays and to identify new molecular targets that may be involved in L. major growth and viability as well as identify new protein targets for future leishmanicidal drug discovery.