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1.  A bi-directional, iterative approach to the structural delineation of the functional “chemoprint” in GPR40 for agonist recognition 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2007;50(13):2981-2989.
GPR40, free fatty acid receptor 1 (FFAR1), is a member of the GPCR superfamily and a possible target for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. In this work we conducted a bi-directional iterative investigation, including computational modeling and site-directed mutagenesis, aimed at delineating amino acid residues forming the functional “chemoprint” of GPR40 for agonist recognition. The computational and experimental studies revolved around the recognition of the potent synthetic agonist GW9508. Our experimentally supported model suggested that H137(4.56), R183(5.39), N244(6.55), and R258(7.35) are directly involved in interactions with the ligand. We have proposed a polarized NH - π interaction between H137(4.56) and GW9508 as one of the contributing forces leading to the high potency of GW9508. The modeling approach presented in this work provides a general strategy for the exploration of receptor-ligand interactions in GPCRs beginning prior to acquisition of experimental data.
PMCID: PMC3592210  PMID: 17552505
2.  ‘Reversine’ and its 2-Substituted Adenine Derivatives as Potent and Selective A3 Adenosine Receptor Antagonists 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2005;48(15):4910-4918.
The dedifferentiation agent ‘reversine’ (2-(4-morpholinoanilino)-N6-cyclohexyladenine 2) was found to be a moderately potent antagonist for the human A3 adenosine receptor (AR) with a Ki value 0.66 μM. This result prompted an exploration of the structure-activity relationship of related derivatives, synthesized via sequential substitution of 6-chloro-2-fluoropurine with selected nucleophiles. Optimization of substituents at these two positions identified 2-phenylamino-N6-(cyclohexyl)adenine 12, 2-phenylamino-N6-(cycloheptyl)adenine 19, and 2-phenylamino-N6-(endo-norbornyl)adenine 21 as potent A3 AR ligands with Ki values of 51, 42 and 37 nM, respectively, with 30 – 200-fold selectivity in comparison to A1 and A2A ARs. The most selective A3 AR antagonist (>200-fold) was 2-phenyloxy-N6-(cyclohexyl)adenine 22. 9-Methylation of 12, but not 19, was well tolerated in A3 AR binding. Extension of the 2-phenylamino group to 2-benzyl- and 2-(2-phenylethylamino) reduced affinity. In the series of 2-phenylamino, 2-phenyloxy, and 2-phenylthio substitutions, the order of affinity at the A3 AR was oxy ≥ amino > thio. Selected derivatives, including reversine (KB value of 466 nM in Schild analysis), competitively antagonized the functional effects of a selective A3 AR agonist, i.e. inhibition of forskolin-stimulated cAMP production in stably transfected Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. These results are in agreement with other studies suggesting the presence of a lipophilic pocket in the AR binding site that is filled by moderately sized cycloalkyl rings at the N6 position of both adenine and adenosine derivatives. Thus, the compound series reported herein comprise an important new series of selective A3 AR antagonists. We were unable to reproduce the dedifferentiation effect of reversine, previously reported, or to demonstrate any connection between A3 AR antagonist effects and dedifferentiation.
PMCID: PMC3474371  PMID: 16033270
3.  A Basis for Reduced Chemical Library Inhibition of Firefly Luciferase Obtained from Directed Evolution 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2009;52(5):1450-1458.
We measured the “druggability” of the ATP-dependent luciferase derived from the firefly Photuris pennsylvanica that was optimized using directed evolution (Ultra-Glo™, Promega). Quantitative high throughput screening (qHTS) was used to determine IC50’s of 198,899 samples against a formulation of Ultra-Glo luciferase (Kinase-Glo™). We found that only 0.1% of the Kinase-Glo inhibitors showed an IC50 < 10 μM compared to 0.9% found from a previous qHTS against the firefly luciferase from Photinus pyralis (lucPpy). Further, the maximum affinity identified in the lucPpy qHTS was 50 nM while for Kinase-Glo this value increased to 600 nM. Compounds with interactions stretching outside the luciferin binding pocket were largely lost with Ultra-Glo luciferase. Therefore, Ultra-Glo luciferase will show less compound interference when used as an ATP sensor compared to lucPpy. This study demonstrates the power of large-scale quantitative analysis of structure-activity relationships (>100K compounds) in addressing important questions such as a target's druggability.
PMCID: PMC3430137  PMID: 19215089
chemical profiling; enzyme assay; PubChem; luciferase; quantitative high-throughput screening
4.  Synthesis, Activity and Structural Analysis of Novel α-Hydroxytropolone Inhibitors of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Reverse Transcriptase-Associated Ribonuclease H 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(13):4462-4473.
The α-hydroxytroplone, manicol (5,7-dihydroxy-2-isopropenyl-9-methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-benzocyclohepten-6-one) potently and specifically inhibits ribonuclease H (RNase H) activity of human immunodeficiency virus reverse transcriptase (HIV RT) in vitro. However, manicol was ineffective in reducing virus replication in culture. Ongoing efforts to improve the potency and specificity over the lead compound led us to synthesize 14 manicol derivatives that retain the divalent metal-chelating α-hydroxytropolone pharmacophore. These efforts were augmented by a high resolution structure of p66/p51 HIV-1 RT containing the nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI), TMC278 and manicol in the DNA polymerase and RNase H active sites, respectively. We demonstrate here that several modified α-hydroxytropolones exhibit antiviral activity at non-cytotoxic concentrations. Inclusion of RNase H active site mutants indicated that manicol analogs can occupy an additional site in or around the DNA polymerase catalytic center. Collectively, our studies will promote future structure-based design of improved α-hydroxytropolones to complement the NRTI and NNRTI currently in clinical use.
PMCID: PMC3133734  PMID: 21568335
5.  Evaluation of Substituted N,N′-Diarylsulfonamides as Activators of the Tumor Cell Specific M2 Isoform of Pyruvate Kinase 
The metabolism of cancer cells is altered to support rapid proliferation. Pharmacological activators of a tumor cell specific pyruvate kinase isozyme (PKM2) may be an approach for altering the classic Warburg effect characteristic of aberrant metabolism in cancer cells yielding a novel anti-proliferation strategy. In this manuscript we detail the discovery of a series of substituted N,N′-diarylsulfonamides as activators of PKM2. The synthesis of numerous analogues and the evaluation of structure activity relationships are presented as well as assessments of mechanism and selectivity. Several agents are found that have good potencies and appropriate solubility for use as chemical probes of PKM2 including 55 (AC50 = 43 nM, maximum response = 84%; solubility = 7.3 μg/mL), 56 (AC50 = 99 nM, maximum response = 84%; solubility = 5.7 μg/mL) and 58 (AC50 = 38 nM, maximum response = 82%; solubility = 51.2 μg/mL). The small molecules described here represent first-in-class activators of PKM2
PMCID: PMC2818804  PMID: 20017496
Warburg effect; pyruvate kinase; cellular metabolism; high-throughput screening; small molecule activators
6.  Identification and Optimization of Inhibitors of Trypanosomal Cysteine Proteases: Cruzain, Rhodesain, and TbCatB 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2010;53(1):52-60.
Trypanosoma cruzi and Trypanosoma brucei are parasites that cause Chagas’ disease and African sleeping sickness, respectively. Both parasites rely on essential cysteine proteases for survival, cruzain for T. cruzi and TbCatB/rhodesain for T. brucei. A recent quantitative high-throughput screen of cruzain identified triazine nitriles, which are known inhibitors of other cysteine proteases, as reversible inhibitors of the enzyme. Structural modifications detailed herein, including core scaffold modification from triazine to purine, improved the in vitro potency against both cruzain and rhodesain by 350-fold, while also gaining activity against T. brucei parasites. Selected compounds were screened against a panel of human cysteine and serine proteases to determine selectivity, and a co-crystal was obtained of our most potent analog bound to Cruzain.
PMCID: PMC2804034  PMID: 19908842
7.  Quantitative Analyses of Aggregation, Autofluorescence, and Reactivity Artifacts in a Screen for Inhibitors of a Thiol Protease 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2010;53(1):37-51.
The perceived and actual burden of false positives in high-throughput screening has received considerable attention; however, few studies exist on the contributions of distinct mechanisms of non-specific effects like chemical reactivity, assay signal interference, and colloidal aggregation. Here, we analyze the outcome of a screen of 197,861 diverse compounds in a concentration-response format against the cysteine protease cruzain, a target expected to be particularly sensitive to reactive compounds and using an assay format with light detection in the short-wavelength region where significant compound autofluorescence is typically encountered. Approximately 1.9% of all compounds screened were detergent-sensitive inhibitors. The contribution from autofluorescence and compounds bearing reactive functionalities was dramatically lower: of all hits, only 1.8% were autofluorescent and 1.48% contained reactive or undesired functional groups. The distribution of false positives was relatively constant across library sources. The simple step of including detergent in the assay buffer suppressed the nonspecific effect of approximately 93% of the original hits.
PMCID: PMC2992957  PMID: 19908840
8.  Structure-Mechanism Insights and the Role of Nitric Oxide Donation Guide the Development of Oxadiazole-2-Oxides as Therapeutic Agents against Schistosomiasis 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2009;52(20):6474-6483.
Schistosomiasis is a chronic parasitic disease affecting hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. Current treatment depends on a single agent, praziquantel, raising concerns of emergence of resistant parasites. Here, we continue our explorations of an oxadiazole-2-oxide class of compounds we recently identified as inhibitors of thioredoxin glutathione reductase (TGR), a selenocysteine-containing flavoenzyme required by the parasite to maintain proper cellular redox balance. Through systematic evaluation of the core molecular structure of this chemotype we define the essential pharmacophore, establish a link between the nitric oxide donation and TGR inhibition, determine the selectivity for this chemotype versus related reductase enzymes and present evidence that these agents can be modified to possess appropriate drug metabolism and pharmacokinetic properties. The mechanistic link between exogenous NO donation and parasite injury is expanded and better defined. The results of these studies verify the utility of oxadiazole-2-oxides as novel inhibitors of TGR and as efficacious anti-schistosomal reagents.
PMCID: PMC2772170  PMID: 19761212
9.  Comprehensive Mechanistic Analysis of Hits from High-Throughput and Docking Screens against β-Lactamase 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;51(8):2502-2511.
High-throughput screening (HTS) is widely used in drug discovery. Especially for screens of unbiased libraries, false positives can dominate “hit lists”; their origins are much debated. Here we determine the mechanism of every active hit from a screen of 70,563 unbiased molecules against β-lactamase using quantitative HTS (qHTS). Of the 1274 initial inhibitors, 95% were detergent-sensitive and were classified as aggregators. Among the 70 remaining were 25 potent, covalent-acting β-lactams. Mass spectra, counter-screens, and crystallography identified 12 as promiscuous covalent inhibitors. The remaining 33 were either aggregators or irreproducible. No specific reversible inhibitors were found. We turned to molecular docking to prioritize molecules from the same library for testing at higher concentrations. Of 16 tested, 2 were modest inhibitors. Subsequent X-ray structures corresponded to the docking prediction. Analog synthesis improved affinity to 8 µM. These results suggest that it may be the physical behavior of organic molecules, not their reactivity, that accounts for most screening artifacts. Structure-based methods may prioritize weak-but-novel chemotypes in unbiased library screens.
PMCID: PMC2655312  PMID: 18333608
10.  Examining the Chirality, Conformation and Selective Kinase Inhibition of 3-((3R,4R)-4-methyl-3-(methyl(7H-pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidin-4-yl)amino)piperidin-1-yl)-3-oxopropanenitrile (CP-690,550) 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;51(24):8012-8018.
Here, we examine the significance that stereochemistry plays within the clinically relevant Janus Kinase 3 (Jak3) inhibitor CP-690,550. A synthesis of all four enantiopure stereoisomers of the drug was carried out and an examination of each compound revealed that only the enantiopure 3R, 4R isomer was capable of blocking Stat5 phosphorylation (Jak3 dependent). Each compound was profiled across a panel of over 350 kinases which revealed a high level of selectivity for the Jak family kinases for these related compounds. Each stereoisomer retained a degree of binding to Jak3 and Jak2 and the 3R, 4S and 3S, 4R stereoisomers were further revealed to have binding affinity for selected members of the STE7 and STE20 subfamily of kinases. Finally, an appraisal of the minimum energy conformation of each stereoisomer and molecular docking at Jak3 was performed in an effort to better understand each compounds selectivity and potency profiles.
PMCID: PMC2660606  PMID: 19053756
Janus Kinase 3; CP-690,550; Kinase inhibition; Chiral drugs
11.  Evaluation of Small Molecule Modulators of the Luteinizing Hormone/Choriogonadotropin and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Receptors: Structure Activity Relationships and Selective Binding Patterns 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2006;49(13):3888-3896.
The substituted thieno[2,3-d]pyrimidine 3 (Org 41841), a partial agonist for the luteinizing hormone/choriogonadotropin receptor (LHCGR) and the closely related thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR), was fundamentally altered and the resulting analogues were analyzed for their potencies, efficacies and specificities at LHCGR and TSHR. Chemical modification of the parent compound combined with prior mutagenesis of TSHR provided compelling experimental evidence in support of computational models of 3 binding to TSHR and LHCGR within their transmembrane cores. Biochemical analysis of a specific modification to the chemical structure of 3 provides additional evidence of a H-bond between the ligand and a glutamate residue in transmembrane helix 3, which is conserved in both receptors. Several key interactions were surveyed to determine their respective biochemical roles in terms of both van der Waals dimensions and hydrogen bond capacity and the respective relationship to biological activity.
PMCID: PMC2543117  PMID: 16789744
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Receptor; Luteinizing Hormone/Choriogonadotropin Receptor; Org 41841

Results 1-11 (11)