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1.  Alkylation sensitivity screens reveal a conserved cross-species functionome 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2012;10(12):10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-12-0168.
To identify genes that contribute to chemotherapy resistance in glioblastoma, we conducted a synthetic lethal screen in a chemotherapy-resistant glioblastoma derived cell line with the clinical alkylator temozolomide (TMZ) and an siRNA library tailored towards “druggable” targets. Select DNA repair genes in the screen were validated independently, confirming the DNA glycosylases UNG and MYH as well as MPG to be involved in the response to high dose TMZ. The involvement of UNG and MYH is likely the result of a TMZ-induced burst of reactive oxygen species. We then compared the human TMZ sensitizing genes identified in our screen with those previously identified from alkylator screens conducted in E. coli and S. cerevisiae. The conserved biological processes across all three species composes an Alkylation Functionome that includes many novel proteins not previously thought to impact alkylator resistance. This high-throughput screen, validation and cross-species analysis was then followed by a mechanistic analysis of two essential nodes: base excision repair (BER) DNA glycosylases (UNG, human and mag1, S. cerevisiae) and protein modification systems, including UBE3B and ICMT in human cells or pby1, lip22, stp22 and aim22 in S. cerevisiae. The conserved processes of BER and protein modification were dual targeted and yielded additive sensitization to alkylators in S. cerevisiae. In contrast, dual targeting of BER and protein modification genes in human cells did not increase sensitivity, suggesting an epistatic relationship. Importantly, these studies provide potential new targets to overcome alkylating agent resistance.
doi:10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-12-0168
PMCID: PMC3877719  PMID: 23038810
Temozolomide; chemotherapy resistance; alkylation response; siRNA; DNA Repair
2.  Development and Validation of a High-Content Screening Assay to Identify Inhibitors of Cytoplasmic Dynein-Mediated Transport of Glucocorticoid Receptor to the Nucleus 
Abstract
Rapid ligand-induced trafficking of glucocorticoid nuclear hormone receptor (GR) from the cytoplasm to the nucleus is an extensively studied model for intracellular retrograde cargo transport employed in constructive morphogenesis and many other cellular functions. Unfortunately, potent and selective small-molecule disruptors of this process are lacking, which has restricted pharmacological investigations. We describe here the development and validation of a 384-well high-content screening (HCS) assay to identify inhibitors of the rapid ligand-induced retrograde translocation of cytoplasmic glucocorticoid nuclear hormone receptor green fluorescent fusion protein (GR-GFP) into the nuclei of 3617.4 mouse mammary adenocarcinoma cells. We selected 3617.4 cells, because they express GR-GFP under the control of a tetracycline (Tet)-repressible promoter and are exceptionally amenable to image acquisition and analysis procedures. Initially, we investigated the time-dependent expression of GR-GFP in 3617.4 cells under Tet-on and Tet-off control to determine the optimal conditions to measure dexamethasone (Dex)-induced GR-GFP nuclear translocation on the ArrayScan-VTI automated imaging platform. We then miniaturized the assay into a 384-well format and validated the performance of the GR-GFP nuclear translocation HCS assay in our 3-day assay signal window and dimethylsulfoxide validation tests. The molecular chaperone heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) plays an essential role in the regulation of GR steroid binding affinity and ligand-induced retrograde trafficking to the nucleus. We verified that the GR-GFP HCS assay captured the concentration-dependent inhibition of GR-GFP nuclear translocation by 17-AAG, a benzoquinone ansamycin that selectively blocks the binding and hydrolysis of ATP by Hsp90. We screened the 1280 compound library of pharmacologically active compounds set in the Dex-induced GR-GFP nuclear translocation assay and used the multi-parameter HCS data to eliminate cytotoxic compounds and fluorescent outliers. We identified five qualified hits that inhibited the rapid retrograde trafficking of GR-GFP in a concentration-dependent manner: Bay 11-7085, 4-phenyl-3-furoxancarbonitrile, parthenolide, apomorphine, and 6-nitroso-1,2-benzopyrone. The data presented here demonstrate that the GR-GFP HCS assay provides an effective phenotypic screen and support the proposition that screening a larger library of diversity compounds will yield novel small-molecule probes that will enable the further exploration of intracellular retrograde transport of cargo along microtubules, a process which is essential to the morphogenesis and function of all cells.
doi:10.1089/adt.2012.456
PMCID: PMC3464420  PMID: 22830992
3.  Characterization and Optimization of a Novel Protein–Protein Interaction Biosensor High-Content Screening Assay to Identify Disruptors of the Interactions Between p53 and hDM2 
Abstract
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.
doi:10.1089/adt.2010.0281
PMCID: PMC2929144  PMID: 20662736
4.  Profiling the NIH Small Molecule Repository for Compounds That Generate H2O2 by Redox Cycling in Reducing Environments 
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.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0247
PMCID: PMC3098569  PMID: 20070233
5.  Cdc25B Dual-Specificity Phosphatase Inhibitors Identified in a High-Throughput Screen of the NIH Compound Library 
Abstract
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.
doi:10.1089/adt.2008.186
PMCID: PMC2956648  PMID: 19530895
6.  Development of a 384-Well Colorimetric Assay to Quantify Hydrogen Peroxide Generated by the Redox Cycling of Compounds in the Presence of Reducing Agents 
We report here the development and optimization of a simple 384-well colorimetric assay to measure H2O2 generated by the redox cycling of compounds incubated with reducing agents in high-throughput screening (HTS) assay buffers. The phenol red-horseradish peroxidase (HRP) assay readily detected H2O2 either added exogenously or generated by the redox cycling of compounds in dithiothreitol (DTT). The generation of H2O2 was dependent on the concentration of both the compound and DTT and was abolished by catalase. Although both DTT and tris(2-carboxyethyl)-phosphine sustain the redox cycling generation of H2O2 by a model quinolinedione, 6-chloro-7-(2-morpholin-4-yl-ethylamino)-quinoline-5,8-dione (NSC 663284; DA3003-1), other reducing agents such as β-mercaptoethanol, glutathione, and cysteine do not. The assay is compatible with HTS. Once terminated, the assay signal was stable for at least 5 h, allowing for a reasonable throughput. The assay tolerated up to 20% dimethyl sulfoxide, allowing a wide range of compound concentrations to be tested. The assay signal window was robust and reproducible with average Z-factors of ≥0.8, and the redox cycling generation of H2O2 by DA3003-1 in DTT exhibited an average 50% effective concentration of 0.830 ± 0.068 μM. Five of the mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase (MKP) 1 inhibitors identified in an HTS were shown to generate H2O2 in the presence of DTT, and their inhibition of MKP-1 activity was shown to be time dependent and was abolished or significantly reduced by either 100 U of catalase or by higher DTT levels. A cross-target query of the PubChem database with three structurally related pyrimidotriazinediones revealed active flags in 36–39% of the primary screening assays. Activity was confirmed against a number of targets containing active site cysteines, including protein tyrosine phosphatases, cathepsins, and caspases, as well as a number of cellular cytotoxicity assays. Rather than utilize resources to conduct a hit characterization effort involving several secondary assays, the phenol red-HRP assay provides a simple, rapid, sensitive, and inexpensive method to identify compounds that redox cycle in DTT or tris(2-carboxyethyl)phosphine to produce H2O2 that may indirectly modulate target activity and represent promiscuous false-positives from a primary screen.
doi:10.1089/adt.2008.151
PMCID: PMC2752819  PMID: 18699726
7.  Development of a 384-Well Colorimetric Assay to Quantify Hydrogen Peroxide Generated by the Redox Cycling of Compounds in the Presence of Reducing Agents 
Abstract
We report here the development and optimization of a simple 384-well colorimetric assay to measure H2O2 generated by the redox cycling of compounds incubated with reducing agents in high-throughput screening (HTS) assay buffers. The phenol red-horseradish peroxidase (HRP) assay readily detected H2O2 either added exogenously or generated by the redox cycling of compounds in dithiothreitol (DTT). The generation of H2O2 was dependent on the concentration of both the compound and DTT and was abolished by catalase. Although both DTT and tris(2-carboxyethyl)-phosphine sustain the redox cycling generation of H2O2 by a model quinolinedione, 6-chloro-7-(2-morpholin-4-yl-ethylamino)-quinoline-5,8-dione (NSC 663284; DA3003-1), other reducing agents such as β-mercaptoethanol, glutathione, and cysteine do not. The assay is compatible with HTS. Once terminated, the assay signal was stable for at least 5 h, allowing for a reasonable throughput. The assay tolerated up to 20% dimethyl sulfoxide, allowing a wide range of compound concentrations to be tested. The assay signal window was robust and reproducible with average Z-factors of ≥0.8, and the redox cycling generation of H2O2 by DA3003-1 in DTT exhibited an average 50% effective concentration of 0.830 μ 0.068 μM. Five of the mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase (MKP) 1 inhibitors identified in an HTS were shown to generate H2O2 in the presence of DTT, and their inhibition of MKP-1 activity was shown to be time dependent and was abolished or significantly reduced by either 100 U of catalase or by higher DTT levels. A cross-target query of the PubChem database with three structurally related pyrimidotriazinediones revealed active flags in 36–39% of the primary screening assays. Activity was confirmed against a number of targets containing active site cysteines, including protein tyrosine phosphatases, cathepsins, and caspases, as well as a number of cellular cytotoxicity assays. Rather than utilize resources to conduct a hit characterization effort involving several secondary assays, the phenol red-HRP assay provides a simple, rapid, sensitive, and inexpensive method to identify compounds that redox cycle in DTT or tris(2-carboxyethyl)phosphine to produce H2O2 that may indirectly modulate target activity and represent promiscuous false-positives from a primary screen.
doi:10.1089/adt.2008.151
PMCID: PMC2752819  PMID: 18699726
8.  Discovery of Diverse Small Molecule Chemotypes with Cell-Based PKD1 Inhibitory Activity 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25134.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025134
PMCID: PMC3187749  PMID: 21998636
9.  Automated High-Content Live Animal Drug Screening Using C. elegans Expressing the Aggregation Prone Serpin α1-antitrypsin Z 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e15460.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015460
PMCID: PMC2980495  PMID: 21103396

Results 1-9 (9)