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1.  Literature Search and Review 
doi:10.1089/adt.2010.0805.lr
PMCID: PMC2974850
2.  Multiplexed Random Peptide Library and Phospho-Specific Antibodies Facilitate Human Polo-Like Kinase 1 Inhibitor Screen 
Abstract
One of the challenges to develop time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET) assay for serine/threonine (Ser/Thr) protein kinase is to select an optimal peptide substrate and a specific phosphor Ser/Thr antibody. This report describes a multiplexed random screen-based development of TR-FRET assay for ultra-high-throughput screening (uHTS) of small molecule inhibitors for a potent cancer drug target polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1). A screen of a diverse peptide library in a 384-well plate format identified several highly potent substrates that share the consensus motif for phosphorylation by Plk1. Their potencies were comparable to FKD peptide, a designed peptide substrate derived from well-described Plk1 substrate Cdc25C. A specific anti-phosphor Ser/Thr antibody p(S/T)F antibody that detects the phosphorylation of FKD peptide was screened out of 87 antibodies with time-resolved fluorometry technology in a 96-well plate format. Using FKD peptide and p(S/T)F antibody, we successfully developed a robust TR-FRET assay in 384-well plate format, and further miniaturized this assay to 1,536-well plate format to perform uHTS. We screened about 1.2 million compounds for Plk1 inhibitors using a Plk1 deletion mutant that only has the kinase domain and subsequently screened the same compound library using a full-length active-mutant Plk1. These uHTSs identified a number of hit compounds, and some of them had selectivity to either the deletion mutant or the full-length protein. Our results prove that a combination of random screen for substrate peptide and phospho-specific antibodies is very powerful strategy to develop TR-FRET assays for protein kinases.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0212
PMCID: PMC3532019  PMID: 20085455
3.  Profiling Diverse Compounds by Flux- and Electrophysiology-Based Primary Screens for Inhibition of Human Ether-à-go-go Related Gene Potassium Channels 
Abstract
Compound effects on cloned human Ether-à-go-go related gene (hERG) potassium channels have been used to assess the potential cardiac safety liabilities of drug development candidate compounds. In addition to radioactive ligand displacement tests, two other common approaches are surrogate ion-based flux assays and electrophysiological recordings. The former has much higher throughput, whereas the latter measures directly the effects on ionic currents. Careful characterization in earlier reports has been performed to compare the relative effectiveness of these approaches for known hERG blockers, which often yielded good overall correlation. However, cases were reported showing significant and reproducible differences in potency and/or sensitivity by the two methods. This raises a question concerning the rationale and criteria on which an assay should be selected for evaluating unknown compounds. To provide a general basis for considering assays to profile large compound libraries for hERG activity, we have conducted parallel flux and electrophysiological analyses of 2,000 diverse compounds, representative of the 300,000 compound collection of NIH Molecular Library Small Molecular Repository (MLSMR). Our results indicate that at the conventional testing concentration 1.0 μM, the overlap between the two assays ranges from 32% to 50% depending on the hit selection criteria. There was a noticeable rate of false negatives by the thallium-based assay relative to electrophysiological recording, which may be greatly reduced under modified comparative conditions. As these statistical results identify a preferred method for cardiac safety profiling of unknown compounds, they suggest an efficient method combining flux and electrophysiological assays to rapidly profile hERG liabilities of large collection of naive compounds.
doi:10.1089/adt.2010.0339
PMCID: PMC3002177  PMID: 21158688
4.  Identification of Human Ether-à-go-go Related Gene Modulators by Three Screening Platforms in an Academic Drug-Discovery Setting 
Abstract
The human Ether-à-go-go related gene (hERG) potassium channel is responsible for the rapid delayed rectifier potassium current that plays a critical role in the repolarization of cardiomyocytes during the cardiac action potential. In humans, inhibition of hERG by drugs can prolong the electrocardiographic QT interval, which, in rare instance, leads to ventricular arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death. As such, several medications that block hERG channels in vitro have been withdrawn from the market due to QT prolongation and arrhythmias. The current FDA guidelines recommend that drug candidates destined for human use be evaluated for potential hERG activity (www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/ucm074963.pdf). Here, we employed automated planar patch clamp (APPC), high-throughput fluorescent Tl+ flux, and moderate-throughput [3H]dofetilide competition binding assays to characterize a panel of 49 drugs for their activities at the hERG channel. Notably, we used the same HEK293-hERG cell line for all assays, facilitating comparisons of hERG potencies across screening platforms. In general, hERG inhibitors were most potent in APPC assays, intermediate potent in [3H]dofetilide binding assays, and least potent in Tl+ flux assays. Binding affinity constants (pKi values) and Tl+ flux potencies (pEC50 values) correlated well with APPC pEC50 values. Further, the inhibitory potencies of many known hERG inhibitors in APPC matched literature values from manual and/or automated patch clamp systems. We also developed a novel fluorescent Tl+ flux assays to measure the effects of drugs that modulate hERG trafficking and surface expression.
doi:10.1089/adt.2010.0331
PMCID: PMC3002179  PMID: 21158687
5.  Expanding the Available Assays: Adapting and Validating In-Cell Westerns in Microfluidic Devices for Cell-Based Assays 
Abstract
Microfluidic methods for cellular studies can significantly reduce costs due to reduced reagent and biological specimen requirements compared with many traditional culture techniques. However, current types of readouts are limited and this lack of suitable readouts for microfluidic cultures has significantly hindered the application of microfluidics for cell-based assays. The In-Cell Western (ICW) technique uses quantitative immunocytochemistry and a laser scanner to provide an in situ measure of protein quantities in cells grown in microfluidic channels of arbitrary geometries. The use of ICWs in microfluidic channels was validated by a detailed comparison with current macroscale methods and shown to have excellent correlation. Transforming growth factor-β–induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition of an epithelial cell line was used as an example for further validation of the technique as a readout for soluble-factor-based assays performed in high-throughput microfluidic channels. The use of passive pumping for sample delivery and laser scanning for analysis opens the door to high-throughput quantitative microfluidic cell-based assays that integrate seamlessly with existing high-throughput infrastructure.
doi:10.1089/adt.2010.0274
PMCID: PMC2957247  PMID: 20658945
6.  A Homogeneous Method to Measure Nucleotide Exchange by α-Subunits of Heterotrimeric G-Proteins Using Fluorescence Polarization 
Abstract
The mainstay of assessing guanosine diphosphate release by the α-subunit of a heterotrimeric G-protein is the [35S]guanosine 5′-O-(3-thiotriphosphate) (GTPγS) radionucleotide-binding assay. This assay requires separation of protein-bound GTPγS from free GTPγS at multiple time points followed by quantification via liquid scintillation. The arduous nature of this assay makes it difficult to quickly characterize multiple mutants, determine the effects of individual variables (e.g., temperature and Mg2+ concentration) on nucleotide exchange, or screen for small molecule modulators of Gα nucleotide binding/cycling properties. Here, we describe a robust, homogeneous, fluorescence polarization assay using a red-shifted fluorescent GTPγS probe that can rapidly determine the rate of GTPγS binding by Gα subunits.
doi:10.1089/adt.2010.0286
PMCID: PMC2957273  PMID: 20662737
7.  High-Content Assay to Identify Inhibitors of Dengue Virus Infection 
Abstract
Dengue virus (DENV) infections are vectored by mosquitoes and constitute one of the most prevalent infectious diseases in many parts of the world, affecting millions of people annually. Current treatments for DENV infections are nonspecific and largely ineffective. In this study, we describe the adaptation of a high-content cell-based assay for screening against DENV-infected cells to identify inhibitors and modulators of DENV infection. Using this high-content approach, we monitored the inhibition of test compounds on DENV protein production by means of immunofluorescence staining of DENV glycoprotein envelope, simultaneously evaluating cytotoxicity in HEK293 cells. The adapted 384-well microtiter-based assay was validated using a small panel of compounds previously reported as having inhibitory activity against DENV infections of cell cultures, including compounds with antiviral activity (ribavirin), inhibitors of cellular signaling pathways (U0126), and polysaccharides that are presumed to interfere with virus attachment (carrageenan). A screen was performed against a collection of 5,632 well-characterized bioactives, including U.S. Food and Drug Administration–approved drugs. Assay control statistics show an average Z' of 0.63, indicative of a robust assay in this cell-based format. Using a threshold of >80% DENV inhibition with <20% cellular cytotoxicity, 79 compounds were initially scored as positive hits. A follow-up screen confirmed 73 compounds with IC50 potencies ranging from 60 nM to 9 μM and yielding a hit rate of 1.3%. Over half of the confirmed hits are known to target transporters, receptors, and protein kinases, providing potential opportunity for drug repurposing to treat DENV infections. In summary, this assay offers the opportunity to screen libraries of chemical compounds, in an effort to identify and develop novel drug candidates against DENV infections.
doi:10.1089/adt.2010.0321
PMCID: PMC2962577  PMID: 20973722
8.  A High-Throughput Screen for Alpha Particle Radiation Protectants 
Abstract
Alpha-particle-emitting elements are of increasing importance as environmental and occupational carcinogens, toxic components of radiation dispersal devices and accidents, and potent therapeutics in oncology. Alpha particle radiation differs from radiations of lower linear energy transfer in that it predominantly damages DNA via direct action. Because of this, radical scavengers effective for other radiations have had only limited effect in mitigating alpha particle toxicity. We describe here a simple assay and a pilot screen of 3,119 compounds in a high-throughput screen (HTS), using the alpha-particle-emitting isotope, 225Ac, for the discovery of compounds that might protect mammalian cells from alpha particles through novel mechanisms. The assay, which monitored the viability of a myeloid leukemic cell line upon alpha particle exposure, was robust and reproducible, yielding a Z' factor of 0.66 and a signal-to-noise ratio of nearly 10 to 1. Surprisingly, 1 compound emerged from this screen, epoxy-4,5-α-dihydroxysantonin (EDHS), that showed considerable protective activity. While the value of EDHS remains to be determined, its discovery is a proof of concept and validation of the utility of this HTS methodology. Further application of the described assay could yield compounds useful in minimizing the toxicity and carcinogenesis associated with alpha particle exposure.
doi:10.1089/adt.2010.0291
PMCID: PMC2978061  PMID: 20658946
9.  A High-Throughput Screening Compatible Assay for Activators and Inhibitors of Methionine Sulfoxide Reductase A 
Abstract
The methionine sulfoxide reductase (Msr) system has been shown to play an important role in protecting cells against oxidative damage. This family of enzymes can repair damage to proteins resulting from the oxidation of methionine residues to methionine sulfoxide, caused by reactive oxygen species. Previous genetic studies in animals have shown that increased levels of methionine sulfoxide reductase enzyme A (MsrA), an important member of the Msr family, can protect cells against oxidative damage and increase life span. A high-throughput screening (HTS) compatible assay has been developed to search for both activators and inhibitors of MsrA. The assay involves a coupled reaction in which the oxidation of NADPH is measured by either spectrophotometric or fluorometric analysis. Previous studies had shown that MsrA has a broad substrate specificity and can reduce a variety of methyl sulfoxide compounds, including dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO). Since the chemicals in the screening library are dissolved in DMSO, which would compete with any of the standard substrates used for the determination of MsrA activity, an assay has been developed that uses the DMSO that is the solvent for the compounds in the library as the substrate for the MsrA enzyme. A specific activator of MsrA could have important therapeutic value for diseases that involve oxidative damage, especially age-related diseases, whereas a specific inhibitor of MsrA would have value for a variety of research studies.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0263
PMCID: PMC2978062  PMID: 20515413
10.  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
11.  Screening for Small Molecules' Bilayer-Modifying Potential Using a Gramicidin-Based Fluorescence Assay 
Abstract
Many drugs and other small molecules used to modulate biological function are amphiphiles that adsorb at the bilayer/solution interface and thereby alter lipid bilayer properties. This is important because membrane proteins are energetically coupled to their host bilayer by hydrophobic interactions. Changes in bilayer properties thus alter membrane protein function, which provides a possible mechanism for “off-target” drug effects. We have previously shown that channels formed by the linear gramicidins are suitable probes for changes in lipid bilayer properties, as experienced by bilayer-spanning proteins. We now report a gramicidin-based fluorescence assay for changes in bilayer properties. The assay is based on measuring the time course of fluorescence quenching in fluorophore-loaded large unilamellar vesicles, due to entry of a gramicidin channel-permeable quencher. The method is scalable and suitable for both mechanistic studies and high-throughput screening for bilayer-perturbing, potential off-target effects, which we illustrate using capsaicin (Cap) and other compounds.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0250
PMCID: PMC2929145  PMID: 20233091
12.  A Multiplex Calcium Assay for Identification of GPCR Agonists and Antagonists 
Abstract
Activation of Gq protein-coupled receptors can be monitored by measuring the increase in intracellular calcium with fluorescent dyes. Recent advances in fluorescent kinetic plate readers and liquid-handling technology have made it possible to follow these transient changes in intracellular calcium in a 1,536-well plate format for high-throughput screening (HTS). Here, we have applied the latest generation of fluorescence kinetic plate readers to multiplex the agonist and antagonist screens of a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR). This multiplexed assay format provides an efficient and cost-effective method for HTS of Gq-coupled GPCR targets.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0245
PMCID: PMC2893246  PMID: 20230302
13.  Development and Validation of a Transcreener Assay for Detection of AMP- and GMP-Producing Enzymes 
Abstract
Screening of AMP- and GMP-producing enzymes such as phosphodiesterases (PDEs), ligases, and synthetases would be simplified by the ability to directly detect unmodified nucleoside monophosphates. To address this need, we developed polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies that recognize AMP and GMP with nanomolar sensitivity and high selectivity vs. the corresponding triphosphate and 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate nucleotides that serve as substrates for many enzymes in these classes. One of these antibodies was used to develop a Transcreener® AMP/GMP assay with a far red fluorescence polarization (FP) readout. This polyclonal antibody exhibited extremely high selectivity, with IC50 ratios of 6,000 for ATP/AMP, 3,810 for cAMP/AMP, and 6,970 for cGMP/GMP. Standard curves mimicking enzymatic conversion of cAMP, cGMP, and ATP to the corresponding monophosphates yielded Z′ values of >0.85 at 10% conversion. The assay reagents were shown to be stable for 24 h at room temperature, both before and after dispensing. The Transcreener AMP/GMP FP assay was used for enzymatic detection of cGMP- and cAMP-dependent PDEs 4A1A, 3A, and 9A2 and ATP-dependent ligases, acetyl CoA synthetase, and ubiquitin-activating enzyme (UBE1). Shifts of >100 mP were observed in the linear part of the progress curves for all enzymes tested, and the PDE isoforms exhibited the expected substrate and inhibitor selectivity. These studies demonstrate that direct immunodetection of AMP and GMP is a flexible, robust enzyme assay method for diverse AMP- and GMP-producing enzymes. Moreover, it eliminates many of the shortcomings of other methods including the need for fluorescently labeled substrates, the low signal:background inherent in substrate depletion assays, and the potential for interference with coupling enzymes.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0254
PMCID: PMC2894640  PMID: 20158441
14.  A High-Throughput 1,536-Well Luminescence Assay for Glutathione S-Transferase Activity 
Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) constitute a family of detoxification enzymes that catalyze the conjugation of glutathione with a variety of hydrophobic compounds, including drugs and their metabolites, to yield water-soluble derivatives that are excreted in urine or bile. Profiling the effect of small molecules on GST activity is an important component in the characterization of drug candidates and compound libraries. Additionally, specific GST isozymes have been implicated in drug resistance, especially in cancer, and thus represent potential targets for intervention. To date, there are no sensitive miniaturized high-throughput assays available for GST activity detection. A series of GST substrates containing a masked luciferin moiety have been described recently, offering the potential for configuring a sensitive screening assay via coupled luciferase reaction and standard luminescence detection. We report on the optimization and miniaturization of this homogeneous method to 1,536-well format using GSTs from 3 different species: mouse isozyme A4-4, human isozymes A1-1, M1-1, and P1-1, and the major GST from the parasitic worm Schistosoma japonicum.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0248
PMCID: PMC2864799  PMID: 20085484
15.  A High-Throughput, Cell-Based Screening Method for siRNA and Small Molecule Inhibitors of mTORC1 Signaling Using the In Cell Western Technique 
The mTORC1 pathway is a central regulator of cell growth, and defective mTORC1 regulation plays a causative role in a variety of human diseases, including cancer, tumor syndromes such as the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) and lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), and metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Given the importance of mTORC1 signaling in these diseases, there has been significant interest in developing screening methods suitable for identifying inhibitors of mTORC1 activation. To this end, we have developed a high-throughput, cell-based assay for the detection of rpS6-phosphorylation as a measure of mTORC1 signaling. This assay takes advantage of the “In Cell Western” (ICW) technique using the Aerius infrared imaging system (LI-COR® Biosciences). The ICW procedure involves fixation and immunostaining of cells in a manner similar to standard immunofluorescence methods but takes advantage of secondary antibodies conjugated to infrared-excitable fluorophores for quantitative detection by the Aerius® scanner. In addition, the cells are stained with an infrared-excitable succinimidyl ester dye, which covalently modifies free amine groups in fixed cells and provides a quantitative measure of cell number. We present validation data and pilot screens in a 384-well format demonstrating that this assay provides a statistically robust method for both small molecule and siRNA screening approaches designed to identify inhibitors of mTORC1 signaling.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0213
PMCID: PMC3096554  PMID: 20085456
16.  Hybrid Median Filter Background Estimator for Correcting Distortions in Microtiter Plate Data 
Microtiter plate (MTP) assays often exhibit distortions, such as caused by edge-dependent drying and robotic fluid handling variation. Distortions vary by assay system but can have both systematic patterns (predictable from plate to plate) and random (sporadic and unpredictable) components. Random errors can be especially difficult to resolve by assay optimization alone, and postassay algorithms reported to date have smoothing effects that often blunt hits. We implemented a 5 × 5 bidirectional hybrid median filter (HMF) as a local background estimator to scale each data point to the MTP global background median and compared it with a recently described Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) technique for correcting errors on computationally and experimentally generated MTP datasets. Experimental data were generated from a 384-well format fluorescent bioassay using cells engineered to express eGFP and DsRED. MTP arrays were produced with and without control treatments used to simulate hits in random wells. The HMF demonstrated the greatest improvements in MTP coefficients of variation and dynamic range (defined by the ratio of average hit amplitude to standard deviation, SD) for all synthetic and experimental MTPs examined. After HMF application to a MTP of eGFP signal from mouse insulinoma (MIN6) cells obtained by a plate-reader, the assay coefficient of variation (CV) decreased from 8.0% in the raw dataset to 5.1% and the hit amplitudes were reduced by only 1% while the DFT method increased the CV by 36.0% and reduced the hit amplitude by 21%. Thus, our results show that the bidirectional HMF provides superior corrections of MTP data distortions while at the same time preserving hit amplitudes and improving dynamic range.
The software to perform hybrid median filter MTP corrections is available at http://bccg.burnham.org/HTS/HMF_Download_Page.aspx, password is pbushway.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0242
PMCID: PMC3096555  PMID: 20230301
17.  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
18.  Optimization of a Non-Radioactive High-Throughput Assay for Decarboxylase Enzymes 
Herein, we describe the optimization of a linked enzyme assay suitable for high-throughput screening of decarboxylases, a target family whose activity has historically been difficult to quantify. Our approach uses a commercially available bicarbonate detection reagent to measure decarboxylase activity. The assay is performed in a fully enclosed automated screening system under inert nitrogen atmosphere to minimize perturbation by exogenous CO2. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis following a pilot screen of a small library of ∼3,600 unique molecules for inhibitors of Trypanosoma brucei ornithine decarboxylase quantitatively demonstrates that the assay has excellent discriminatory power (area under the curve = 0.90 with 95% confidence interval between 0.82 and 0.97).
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0249
PMCID: PMC3098607  PMID: 20085486
19.  A Time-Resolved Fluorescence–Resonance Energy Transfer Assay for Identifying Inhibitors of Hepatitis C Virus Core Dimerization 
Abstract
Binding of hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA to core, the capsid protein, results in the formation of the nucleocapsid, the first step in the assembly of the viral particle. A novel assay was developed to discover small molecule inhibitors of core dimerization. This assay is based on time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET) between anti-tag antibodies labeled with either europium cryptate (Eu) or allophycocyanin (XL-665). The N-terminal 106-residue portion of core protein (core106) was tagged with either glutathione-S-transferase (GST) or a Flag peptide. Tag-free core106 was selected as the reference inhibitor. The assay was used to screen the library of pharmacologically active compounds (LOPAC) consisting of 1,280 compounds and a 2,240-compound library from the Center for Chemical Methodology and Library Development at Boston University (CMLD-BU). Ten of the 28 hits from the primary TR-FRET run were confirmed in a secondary amplified luminescent proximity homogeneous assay (ALPHA screen). One hit was further characterized by dose–response analysis yielding an IC50 of 9.3 μM. This 513 Da compound was shown to inhibit HCV production in cultured hepatoma cells.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0217
PMCID: PMC2971647  PMID: 20035614
20.  High-Throughput Multiplex Flow Cytometry Screening for Botulinum Neurotoxin Type A Light Chain Protease Inhibitors 
Given their medical importance, proteases have been studied by diverse approaches and screened for small molecule protease inhibitors. Here, we present a multiplexed microsphere-based protease assay that uses high-throughput flow cytometry to screen for inhibitors of the light chain protease of botulinum neurotoxin type A (BoNTALC). Our assay uses a full-length substrate and several deletion mutants screened in parallel to identify small molecule inhibitors. The use of multiplex flow cytometry has the advantage of using full-length substrates, which contain already identified distal-binding elements for the BoNTALC, and could lead to a new class of BoNTALC inhibitors. In this study, we have screened 880 off patent drugs and bioavailable compounds to identify ebselen as an in vitro inhibitor of BoNTALC. This discovery demonstrates the validity of our microsphere-based approach and illustrates its potential for high-throughput screening for inhibitors of proteases in general.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0219
PMCID: PMC3096553  PMID: 20035615
21.  Microbead Arrays for the Analysis of ErbB Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Activation and Dimerization in Breast Cancer Cells 
Abstract
Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) in the ErbB family (EGFR, ErbB2, ErbB3, and ErbB4) are implicated in a variety of human malignancies. Accordingly, determination of both expression and activation (dimerization/heterodimerization and phosphorylation) of ErbB proteins is critical in defining their functional role in cancer. Efficient and comprehensive methods to study molecular functions of ErbB family of RTKs are needed not only for improvements in diagnostics but also for early screening of targeted drugs (eg, small molecule inhibitors and therapeutic antibodies). We report development of 3 multiplex microbead immunoassays for simultaneous detection of expression, protein–protein interactions, and phosphorylation of these RTKs. These novel multiplex immunoassays were used to study ErbB RTKs under different cell activation conditions in 2 breast cancer cell lines (MDA-MB-453 and MDA-MB-468) and an epidermoid cancer cell line (A431). The results were confirmed by immunoprecipitation/western blot. Importantly, the multiplex immunoassay facilitated time-course studies in these cell lines after cell activation with EGF and neuregulin, revealing the kinetics of phosphorylation of the ErbB family RTKs. This study demonstrates the utility of the Luminex® multiplex system as an efficient and comprehensive approach to study different aspects of molecular roles of these RTKs. Importantly, the study provides proof-of-concept for the utility of the multiplex microbead immunoassay approach for potential use in efficient, robust, and rapid screening of drugs, particularly those targeting functional aspects of these potent signaling molecules. In addition, the assays described here may be useful for cancer diagnostics and monitoring efficacy of therapy targeting the ErbB family of RTKs.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0208
PMCID: PMC3196214  PMID: 20035613
22.  A High-throughput 1536-well Luminescence Assay for Glutathione S-Transferase Activity 
Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) constitute a family of detoxification enzymes that catalyze the conjugation of glutathione with a variety of hydrophobic compounds, including drugs and their metabolites, to yield water soluble derivatives which are excreted in urine or bile. Profiling the effect of small molecules on GST activity is an important component in the characterization of drug candidates and compound libraries. Additionally, specific GST isozymes have been implicated in drug resistance, especially in cancer, and thus represent potential targets for intervention. To date, there are no sensitive miniaturized high-throughput assays available for GST activity detection. A series of GST substrates containing a masked luciferin moiety have been described recently, offering the potential for configuring a sensitive screening assay via coupled luciferase reaction and standard luminescence detection. We report on the optimization and miniaturization of this homogeneous method to 1,536-well format using GSTs from three different species: mouse isozyme A4-4, human isozymes A1-1, M1-1, and P1-1, and the major GST from the parasitic worm Schistosoma japonicum.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0248
PMCID: PMC2864799  PMID: 20085484
23.  A Multiplex Calcium Assay for Identification of GPCR Agonists and Antagonists 
Activation of Gq protein-coupled receptors can be monitored by measuring the increase in intracellular calcium with fluorescent dyes. Recent advances in fluorescent kinetic plate readers and liquid-handling technology have made it possible to follow these transient changes in intracellular calcium in a 1536-well plate format for high-throughput screening. Here, we have applied the latest generation of fluorescence kinetic plate readers to multiplex the agonist and antagonist screens of a GPCR. This multiplexed assay format provides an efficient and cost-effective method for high-throughput screening of Gq-coupled GPCR targets.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0245
PMCID: PMC2893246  PMID: 20230302
GPCR; calcium assay; FDSS; multiplex; high-throughput screening

Results 1-23 (23)