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1.  Anti-cancer activity of novel dibenzo[b,f]azepine tethered isoxazoline derivatives 
BMC Chemical Biology  2012;12:5.
Dibenzoazepine (DB) derivatives are important and valuable compounds in medicinal chemistry. The synthesis and chemotherapeutic properties of naturally occurring DBs and different heterocyclic moiety tethered DBs are reported. Herein, we report the DB-fused hybrid structure that containing isoxazolines (DBIs) and their anti-cancer activity, which could throw light on the structural and functional features of new molecules.
Results and Conclusion
The synthesis and characterization of novel ring DB tethered isoxazoline derivatives (DBIs) were carried out. After the detailed structural characterization using 2D-NMR experiments, the compounds were identified as 5-substituted isoxazolines. The effect of newly synthesized DBIs against the invasion of murine osteosarcoma (LM8G7) cells was studied. Among the tested molecules, compound 4g (5-[−3-(4-chlorophenyl)-4,5-dihydroisoxazol-5-yl-methyl]-5 H-dibenzo[b,f]azepine), was found to inhibit the invasion of LM8G7 cells strongly, when compared to other structurally related compounds. Cumulatively, the compound 4g inhibited the invasion MDA-MB-231 cells completely at 10 μM. In addition to anti-invasion property the compound 4g also inhibited the migration of LM8G7 and human ovarian cancer cells (OVSAHO) dose-dependently. Compound 4g inhibited the proliferation of LM8G7, OVSAHO, human breast cancer cells (MCF-7) and human melphalan-resistant multiple myeloma (RPMI8226-LR5) cells that are comparable to cisplatin and suramin.
PMCID: PMC3554437  PMID: 23033888
Dibenzoazepine; Cycloaddition; Isoxazolines; Anticancer agents; ADMET
2.  High toxicity and specificity of the saponin 3-GlcA-28-AraRhaxyl-medicagenate, from Medicago truncatula seeds, for Sitophilus oryzae 
BMC Chemical Biology  2012;12:3.
Because of the increasingly concern of consumers and public policy about problems for environment and for public health due to chemical pesticides, the search for molecules more safe is currently of great importance. Particularly, plants are able to fight the pathogens as insects, bacteria or fungi; so that plants could represent a valuable source of new molecules.
It was observed that Medicago truncatula seed flour displayed a strong toxic activity towards the adults of the rice weevil Sitophilus oryzae (Coleoptera), a major pest of stored cereals. The molecule responsible for toxicity was purified, by solvent extraction and HPLC, and identified as a saponin, namely 3-GlcA-28-AraRhaxyl-medicagenate. Saponins are detergents, and the CMC of this molecule was found to be 0.65 mg per mL. Neither the worm Caenorhabditis elegans nor the bacteria E. coli were found to be sensitive to this saponin, but growth of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae was inhibited at concentrations higher than 100 μg per mL. The purified molecule is toxic for the adults of the rice weevils at concentrations down to 100 μg per g of food, but this does not apply to the others insects tested, including the coleopteran Tribolium castaneum and the Sf9 insect cultured cells.
This specificity for the weevil led us to investigate this saponin potential for pest control and to propose the hypothesis that this saponin has a specific mode of action, rather than acting via its non-specific detergent properties.
PMCID: PMC3388004  PMID: 22536832
Saponin; Insect; Medicago truncatula; Sitophilus oryzae
3.  Identification Of Small Molecule TRABID Deubiquitinase Inhibitors By Computation-Based Virtual Screen 
BMC Chemical Biology  2012;12:4.
Wnt/β-catenin-mediated gene transcription plays important roles in a wide range of biological and pathophysiological processes including tumorigenesis where β-catenin-mediated transcription activity frequently elevates. TRABID, a deubiquitinase, was shown to have a positive Wnt/β-catenin-mediated gene transcription and hence holds a promise as a putative anti-cancer target.
In this study, we used a combination of structure based virtual screening and an in vitro deubiquitinase (DUB) assay to identify several small molecules that inhibit TRABID DUB activity. However, these inhibitors failed to show inhibitory effects on β-catenin-mediated gene transcription. In addition, expression of TRABID shRNAs, wildtype TRABID, or the DUB activity-deficient mutant showed little effects on β-catenin-mediated gene transcription.
TRABID may not be a critical component in canonical Wnt/β-catenin signal transduction or that a minute amount of this protein is sufficient for its role in regulating Wnt activity.
PMCID: PMC3475094  PMID: 22584113
4.  Comprehensive predictions of target proteins based on protein-chemical interaction using virtual screening and experimental verifications 
BMC Chemical Biology  2012;12:2.
Identification of the target proteins of bioactive compounds is critical for elucidating the mode of action; however, target identification has been difficult in general, mostly due to the low sensitivity of detection using affinity chromatography followed by CBB staining and MS/MS analysis.
We applied our protocol of predicting target proteins combining in silico screening and experimental verification for incednine, which inhibits the anti-apoptotic function of Bcl-xL by an unknown mechanism. One hundred eighty-two target protein candidates were computationally predicted to bind to incednine by the statistical prediction method, and the predictions were verified by in vitro binding of incednine to seven proteins, whose expression can be confirmed in our cell system.
As a result, 40% accuracy of the computational predictions was achieved successfully, and we newly found 3 incednine-binding proteins.
This study revealed that our proposed protocol of predicting target protein combining in silico screening and experimental verification is useful, and provides new insight into a strategy for identifying target proteins of small molecules.
PMCID: PMC3471015  PMID: 22480302
5.  HIV-1 Nef interaction influences the ATP-binding site of the Src-family kinase, Hck 
BMC Chemical Biology  2012;12:1.
Nef is an HIV-1 accessory protein essential for viral replication and AIDS progression. Nef interacts with a multitude of host cell signaling partners, including members of the Src kinase family. Nef preferentially activates Hck, a Src-family kinase (SFK) strongly expressed in macrophages and other HIV target cells, by binding to its regulatory SH3 domain. Recently, we identified a series of kinase inhibitors that preferentially inhibit Hck in the presence of Nef. These compounds also block Nef-dependent HIV replication, validating the Nef-SFK signaling pathway as an antiretroviral drug target. Our findings also suggested that by binding to the Hck SH3 domain, Nef indirectly affects the conformation of the kinase active site to favor inhibitor association.
To test this hypothesis, we engineered a "gatekeeper" mutant of Hck with enhanced sensitivity to the pyrazolopyrimidine tyrosine kinase inhibitor, NaPP1. We also modified the RT loop of the Hck SH3 domain to enhance interaction of the kinase with Nef. This modification stabilized Nef:Hck interaction in solution-based kinase assays, as a way to mimic the more stable association that likely occurs at cellular membranes. Introduction of the modified RT loop rendered Hck remarkably more sensitive to activation by Nef, and led to a significant decrease in the Km for ATP as well as enhanced inhibitor potency.
These observations suggest that stable interaction with Nef may induce Src-family kinase active site conformations amenable to selective inhibitor targeting.
PMCID: PMC3328272  PMID: 22420777
6.  Development of an HPLC method for determination of pentachloronitrobenzene, hexachlorobenzene and their possible metabolites 
BMC Chemical Biology  2011;11:2.
Pentachloronitrobenzene (PCNB) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) are highly toxic and widespread in every environmental compartment. Some of metabolic products such as amino/nitro containing chlorinated aromatic compounds can be determined by gas chromatography coupled with electron capture detector (GC-ECD). However, it is difficult to identify some of chlorophenolic and chloroquinolic intermediates produced from PCNB and HCB by the above mentioned technique. Therefore, for analysis of these compounds and their metabolites, we have developed a high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) based method.
The extraction of PCNB and HCB from soil and minimal salt medium was carried out with ethyl acetate and hexane respectively with good recoveries (98% for PCNB and 97% for HCB). The validation of the proposed extraction and HPLC method was done by analysis of PCNB and HCB biodegradation and their metabolites identification from anaerobic enriched soil samples.
A rapid, sensitive and simple HPLC based analytical method was developed for the analysis of PCNB, HCB and their possible intermediates.
PMCID: PMC3341572  PMID: 22112041
7.  Chemical modification of L-glutamine to alpha-amino glutarimide on autoclaving facilitates Agrobacterium infection of host and non-host plants: A new use of a known compound 
BMC Chemical Biology  2011;11:1.
Accidental autoclaving of L-glutamine was found to facilitate the Agrobacterium infection of a non host plant like tea in an earlier study. In the present communication, we elucidate the structural changes in L-glutamine due to autoclaving and also confirm the role of heat transformed L-glutamine in Agrobacterium mediated genetic transformation of host/non host plants.
When autoclaved at 121°C and 15 psi for 20 or 40 min, L-glutamine was structurally modified into 5-oxo proline and 3-amino glutarimide (α-amino glutarimide), respectively. Of the two autoclaved products, only α-amino glutarimide facilitated Agrobacterium infection of a number of resistant to susceptible plants. However, the compound did not have any vir gene inducing property.
We report a one pot autoclave process for the synthesis of 5-oxo proline and α-amino glutarimide from L-glutamine. Xenobiotic detoxifying property of α-amino glutarimide is also proposed.
PMCID: PMC3130638  PMID: 21624145
8.  Chemical-genetic profile analysis of five inhibitory compounds in yeast 
BMC Chemical Biology  2010;10:6.
Chemical-genetic profiling of inhibitory compounds can lead to identification of their modes of action. These profiles can help elucidate the complex interactions between small bioactive compounds and the cell machinery, and explain putative gene function(s).
Colony size reduction was used to investigate the chemical-genetic profile of cycloheximide, 3-amino-1,2,4-triazole, paromomycin, streptomycin and neomycin in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These compounds target the process of protein biosynthesis. More than 70,000 strains were analyzed from the array of gene deletion mutant yeast strains. As expected, the overall profiles of the tested compounds were similar, with deletions for genes involved in protein biosynthesis being the major category followed by metabolism. This implies that novel genes involved in protein biosynthesis could be identified from these profiles. Further investigations were carried out to assess the activity of three profiled genes in the process of protein biosynthesis using relative fitness of double mutants and other genetic assays.
Chemical-genetic profiles provide insight into the molecular mechanism(s) of the examined compounds by elucidating their potential primary and secondary cellular target sites. Our follow-up investigations into the activity of three profiled genes in the process of protein biosynthesis provided further evidence concerning the usefulness of chemical-genetic analyses for annotating gene functions. We termed these genes TAE2, TAE3 and TAE4 for translation associated elements 2-4.
PMCID: PMC2925817  PMID: 20691087
9.  Novel protein kinase D inhibitors cause potent arrest in prostate cancer cell growth and motility 
BMC Chemical Biology  2010;10:5.
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.
PMCID: PMC2873968  PMID: 20444281
10.  Dietary phenethylisothiocyanate attenuates bowel inflammation in mice 
BMC Chemical Biology  2010;10:4.
Phenethylisothiocyanate (PEITC) is produced by Brassica food plants. PEO is a PEITC Essential Oil containing >95% natural PEITC. PEITC is known to produce various health benefits but its effect in alleviation of ulcerative colitis signs is unknown.
In two efficacy studies (acute and chronic) oral administration of PEO was effective at remitting acute and chronic signs of ulcerative colitis (UC) in mice. Disease activity, histology and biochemical characteristics were measured in the treated animals and were compared with appropriate controls. PEO treatment significantly improved body weights and stool consistency as well as decreased intestinal bleeding. PEO treatment also reduced mucosal inflammation, depletion of goblet cells and infiltration of inflammatory cells. Attenuation of proinflammatory interleukin1β production was observed in the colons of PEO-treated animals. Expression analyses were also carried out for immune function related genes, transcription factors and cytokines in lipopolysaccharide-activated mouse macrophage cells. PEO likely affects an intricate network of immune signaling genes including a novel concentration dependent reduction of total cellular Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 1 (STAT1) as well as nuclear phosphorylated-STAT1 (activated form of STAT1). A PEO-concentration dependent decrease of mRNA of C-X-C motif ligand 10 (a STAT1 responsive chemokine) and Interleukin 6 were also observed.
PEO might be a promising candidate to develop as a treatment for ulcerative colitis patients. The disease attenuation by PEO is likely associated with suppression of activation of STAT1 transcription and inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
PMCID: PMC2881005  PMID: 20423518
11.  MyD88-dependent and independent pathways of Toll-Like Receptors are engaged in biological activity of Triptolide in ligand-stimulated macrophages 
BMC Chemical Biology  2010;10:3.
Triptolide is a diterpene triepoxide from the Chinese medicinal plant Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F., with known anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive and anti-cancer properties.
Here we report the expression profile of immune signaling genes modulated by triptolide in LPS induced mouse macrophages. In an array study triptolide treatment modulated expression of 22.5% of one hundred and ninety five immune signaling genes that included Toll-like receptors (TLRs). TLRs elicit immune responses through their coupling with intracellular adaptor molecules, MyD88 and TRIF. Although it is known that triptolide inhibits NFκB activation and other signaling pathways downstream of TLRs, involvement of TLR cascade in triptolide activity was not reported. In this study, we show that triptolide suppresses expression of proinflammatory downstream effectors induced specifically by different TLR agonists. Also, the suppressive effect of triptolide on TLR-induced NFκB activation was observed when either MyD88 or TRIF was knocked out, confirming that both MyD88 and TRIF mediated NFκB activation may be inhibited by triptolide. Within the TLR cascade triptolide downregulates TLR4 and TRIF proteins.
This study reveals involvement of TLR signaling in triptolide activity and further increases understanding of how triptolide activity may downregulate NFκB activation during inflammatory conditions.
PMCID: PMC2873377  PMID: 20385024
12.  NAD+ metabolite levels as a function of vitamins and calorie restriction: evidence for different mechanisms of longevity 
BMC Chemical Biology  2010;10:2.
NAD+ is a coenzyme for hydride transfer enzymes and a substrate for sirtuins and other NAD+-dependent ADPribose transfer enzymes. In wild-type Saccharomyces cerevisiae, calorie restriction accomplished by glucose limitation extends replicative lifespan in a manner that depends on Sir2 and the NAD+ salvage enzymes, nicotinic acid phosphoribosyl transferase and nicotinamidase. Though alterations in the NAD+ to nicotinamide ratio and the NAD+ to NADH ratio are anticipated by models to account for the effects of calorie restriction, the nature of a putative change in NAD+ metabolism requires analytical definition and quantification of the key metabolites.
Hydrophilic interaction chromatography followed by tandem electrospray mass spectrometry were used to identify the 12 compounds that constitute the core NAD+ metabolome and 6 related nucleosides and nucleotides. Whereas yeast extract and nicotinic acid increase net NAD+ synthesis in a manner that can account for extended lifespan, glucose restriction does not alter NAD+ or nicotinamide levels in ways that would increase Sir2 activity.
The results constrain the possible mechanisms by which calorie restriction may regulate Sir2 and suggest that provision of vitamins and calorie restriction extend lifespan by different mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2834649  PMID: 20175898
13.  Mitotic slippage in non-cancer cells induced by a microtubule disruptor, disorazole C1 
BMC Chemical Biology  2010;10:1.
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.
PMCID: PMC2834648  PMID: 20181182
14.  Glycosylated VCAM-1 isoforms revealed in 2D western blots of HUVECs treated with tumoral soluble factors of breast cancer cells 
Several common aspects of endothelial phenotype, such as the expression of cell adhesion molecules, are shared between metastasis and inflammation. Here, we analyzed VCAM-1 variants as biological markers of these two types of endothelial cell activation. With the combination of 2-DE and western blot techniques and the aid of tunicamycin, we analyzed N-glycosylation variants of VCAM-1 in primary human endothelial cells stimulated with either TNF or tumoral soluble factors (TSF's) derived from the human breast cancer cell line ZR75.30.
Treatments induced a pro-adhesive endothelial phenotype. 2D western blots analysis of cells subjected to both treatments revealed the expression of the two known VCAM-1 isoforms and of previously unknown isoforms. In particular TSFZR75.30 induced an isoform with a relative molecular mass (Mr) and isoelectric point (pI) of 75-77 kDa and 5.0, respectively.
The unknown isoforms of VCAM-1 that were found to be overexpressed after treatment with TSF's compared with TNF, could serve as biomarkers to discriminate between inflammation and metastasis. 2D western blots revealed three new VCAM-1 isoforms expressed in primary human endothelial cells in response to TSF stimulation. Each of these isoforms varies in Mr and pI and could be the result of differential glycosylation states.
PMCID: PMC2787495  PMID: 19930605
15.  Bioinformatic analysis of xenobiotic reactive metabolite target proteins and their interacting partners 
Protein covalent binding by reactive metabolites of drugs, chemicals and natural products can lead to acute cytotoxicity. Recent rapid progress in reactive metabolite target protein identification has shown that adduction is surprisingly selective and inspired the hope that analysis of target proteins might reveal protein factors that differentiate target- vs. non-target proteins and illuminate mechanisms connecting covalent binding to cytotoxicity.
Sorting 171 known reactive metabolite target proteins revealed a number of GO categories and KEGG pathways to be significantly enriched in targets, but in most cases the classes were too large, and the "percent coverage" too small, to allow meaningful conclusions about mechanisms of toxicity. However, a similar analysis of the directlyinteracting partners of 28 common targets of multiple reactive metabolites revealed highly significant enrichments in terms likely to be highly relevant to cytotoxicity (e.g., MAP kinase pathways, apoptosis, response to unfolded protein). Machine learning was used to rank the contribution of 211 computed protein features to determining protein susceptibility to adduction. Protein lysine (but not cysteine) content and protein instability index (i.e., rate of turnover in vivo) were among the features most important to determining susceptibility.
As yet there is no good explanation for why some low-abundance proteins become heavily adducted while some abundant proteins become only lightly adducted in vivo. Analyzing the directly interacting partners of target proteins appears to yield greater insight into mechanisms of toxicity than analyzing target proteins per se. The insights provided can readily be formulated as hypotheses to test in future experimental studies.
PMCID: PMC2711050  PMID: 19523227
16.  Local and global modes of drug action in biochemical networks 
It is becoming increasingly accepted that a shift is needed from the traditional target-based approach of drug development towards an integrated perspective of drug action in biochemical systems. To make this change possible, the interaction networks connecting drug targets to all components of biological systems must be identified and characterized.
We here present an integrative analysis of the interactions between drugs and metabolism by introducing the concept of metabolic drug scope. The metabolic drug scope represents the full set of metabolic compounds and reactions that are potentially affected by a drug. We constructed and analyzed the scopes of all US approved drugs having metabolic targets. Our analysis shows that the distribution of metabolic drug scopes is highly uneven, and that drugs can be classified into several categories based on their scopes. Some of them have small scopes corresponding to localized action, while others have large scopes corresponding to potential large-scale systemic action. These groups are well conserved throughout different topologies of the underlying metabolic network. They can furthermore be associated to specific drug therapeutic properties.
These findings demonstrate the relevance of metabolic drug scopes to the characterization of drug-metabolism interactions and to understanding the mechanisms of drug action in a system-wide context.
PMCID: PMC2670818  PMID: 19351397
17.  Chemical tools selectively target components of the PKA system 
In the eukaryotic cell the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) is a key enzyme in signal transduction and represents the main target of the second messenger cAMP. Here we describe the design, synthesis and characterisation of specifically tailored cAMP analogs which can be utilised as a tool for affinity enrichment and purification as well as for proteomics based analyses of cAMP binding proteins.
Two sets of chemical binders were developed based on the phosphorothioate derivatives of cAMP, Sp-cAMPS and Rp-cAMPS acting as cAMP-agonists and -antagonists, respectively. These compounds were tested via direct surface plasmon resonance (SPR) analyses for their binding properties to PKA R-subunits and holoenzyme. Furthermore, these analogs were used in an affinity purification approach to analyse their binding and elution properties for the enrichment and improvement of cAMP binding proteins exemplified by the PKA R-subunits. As determined by SPR, all tested Sp-analogs provide valuable tools for affinity chromatography. However, Sp-8-AEA-cAMPS displayed (i) superior enrichment properties while maintaining low unspecific binding to other proteins in crude cell lysates, (ii) allowing mild elution conditions and (iii) providing the capability to efficiently purify all four isoforms of active PKA R-subunit in milligram quantities within 8 h. In a chemical proteomics approach both sets of binders, Rp- and Sp-cAMPS derivatives, can be employed. Whereas Sp-8-AEA-cAMPS preferentially binds free R-subunit, Rp-AHDAA-cAMPS, displaying antagonist properties, not only binds to the free PKA R-subunits but also to the intact PKA holoenzyme both from recombinant and endogenous sources.
In summary, all tested cAMP analogs were useful for their respective application as an affinity reagent which can enhance purification of cAMP binding proteins. Sp-8-AEA-cAMPS was considered the most efficient analog since Sp-8-AHA-cAMPS and Sp-2-AHA-cAMPS, demonstrated incomplete elution from the matrix, as well as retaining notable amounts of bound protein contaminants. Furthermore it could be demonstrated that an affinity resin based on Rp-8-AHDAA-cAMPS provides a valuable tool for chemical proteomics approaches.
PMCID: PMC2660902  PMID: 19216744
18.  Transcriptional profiling of the effects of 25-hydroxycholesterol on human hepatocyte metabolism and the antiviral state it conveys against the hepatitis C virus 
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a global health problem. A number of studies have implicated a direct role of cellular lipid metabolism in the HCV life cycle and inhibitors of the mevalonate pathway have been demonstrated to result in an antiviral state within the host cell. Transcriptome profiling was conducted on Huh-7 human hepatoma cells bearing subgenomic HCV replicons with and without treatment with 25-hydroxycholesterol (25-HC), an inhibitor of the mevalonate pathway that alters lipid metabolism, to assess metabolic determinants of pro- and antiviral states within the host cell. These data were compared with gene expression profiles from HCV-infected chimpanzees.
Transcriptome profiling of Huh-7 cells treated with 25-HC gave 47 downregulated genes, 16 of which are clearly related to the mevalonate pathway. Fewer genes were observed to be upregulated (22) in the presence of 25-HC and 5 genes were uniquely upregulated in the HCV replicon bearing cells. Comparison of these gene expression profiles with data collected during the initial rise in viremia in 4 previously characterized HCV-infected chimpanzees yielded 54 overlapping genes, 4 of which showed interesting differential regulation at the mRNA level in both systems. These genes are PROX1, INSIG-1, NK4, and UBD. The expression of these genes was perturbed with siRNAs and with overexpression vectors in HCV replicon cells, and the effect on HCV replication and translation was assessed. Both PROX1 and NK4 regulated HCV replication in conjunction with an antiviral state induced by 25-hydroxycholesterol.
Treatment of Huh-7 cells bearing HCV replicons with 25-HC leads to the downregulation of many key genes involved in the mevalonate pathway leading to an antiviral state within the host cell. Furthermore, dysregulation of a larger subset of genes not directly related to the mevalonate pathway occurs both in 25-HC-treated HCV replicon harbouring cells as well as during the initial rise in viremia in infected chimpanzees. Functional studies of 3 of these genes demonstrates that they do not directly act as antiviral gene products but that they indirectly contribute to the antiviral state in the host cell. These genes may also represent novel biomarkers for HCV infection, since they demonstrate an outcome-specific expression profile.
PMCID: PMC2651120  PMID: 19149867
19.  Catalytic inhibition of topoisomerase II by a novel rationally designed ATP-competitive purine analogue 
Topoisomerase II poisons are in clinical use as anti-cancer therapy for decades and work by stabilizing the enzyme-induced DNA breaks. In contrast, catalytic inhibitors block the enzyme before DNA scission. Although several catalytic inhibitors of topoisomerase II have been described, preclinical concepts for exploiting their anti-proliferative activity based on molecular characteristics of the tumor cell have only recently started to emerge. Topoisomerase II is an ATPase and uses the energy derived from ATP hydrolysis to orchestrate the movement of the DNA double strands along the enzyme. Thus, interfering with ATPase function with low molecular weight inhibitors that target the nucleotide binding pocket should profoundly affect cells that are committed to undergo mitosis.
Here we describe the discovery and characterization of a novel purine diamine analogue as a potent ATP-competitive catalytic inhibitor of topoisomerase II. Quinoline aminopurine compound 1 (QAP 1) inhibited topoisomerase II ATPase activity and decatenation reaction at sub-micromolar concentrations, targeted both topoisomerase II alpha and beta in cell free assays and, using a quantitative cell-based assay and a chromosome segregation assay, displayed catalytic enzyme inhibition in cells. In agreement with recent hypothesis, we show that BRCA1 mutant breast cancer cells have increased sensitivity to QAP 1.
The results obtained with QAP 1 demonstrate that potent and selective catalytic inhibition of human topoisomerase II function with an ATP-competitive inhibitor is feasible. Our data suggest that further drug discovery efforts on ATP-competitive catalytic inhibitors are warranted and that such drugs could potentially be developed as anti-cancer therapy for tumors that bear the appropriate combination of molecular alterations.
PMCID: PMC2628638  PMID: 19128485
20.  Chemogenetic fingerprinting by analysis of cellular growth dynamics 
A fundamental goal in chemical biology is the elucidation of on- and off-target effects of drugs and biocides. To this aim chemogenetic screens that quantify drug induced changes in cellular fitness, typically taken as changes in composite growth, is commonly applied.
Using the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae we here report that resolving cellular growth dynamics into its individual components, growth lag, growth rate and growth efficiency, increases the predictive power of chemogenetic screens. Both in terms of drug-drug and gene-drug interactions did the individual growth variables capture distinct and only partially overlapping aspects of cell physiology. In fact, the impact on cellular growth dynamics represented functionally distinct chemical fingerprints.
Our findings suggest that the resolution and quantification of all facets of growth increases the informational and interpretational output of chemogenetic screening. Hence, by facilitating a physiologically more complete analysis of gene-drug and drug-drug interactions the here reported results may simplify the assignment of mode-of-action to orphan bioactive compounds.
PMCID: PMC2532679  PMID: 18721464
21.  Charting calcium-regulated apoptosis pathways using chemical biology: role of calmodulin kinase II 
Intracellular free calcium ([Ca2+]i) is a key element in apoptotic signaling and a number of calcium-dependent apoptosis pathways have been described. We here used a chemical biology strategy to elucidate the relative importance of such different pathways.
A set of 40 agents ("bioprobes") that induce apoptosis was first identified by screening of a chemical library. Using p53, AP-1, NFAT and NF-κB reporter cell lines, these bioprobes were verified to induce different patterns of signaling. Experiments using the calcium chelator BAPTA-AM showed that Ca2+ was involved in induction of apoptosis by the majority of the bioprobes and that Ca2+ was in general required several hours into the apoptosis process. Further studies showed that the calmodulin pathway was an important mediator of the apoptotic response. Inhibition of calmodulin kinase II (CaMKII) resulted in more effective inhibition of apoptosis compared to inhibition of calpain, calcineurin/PP2B or DAP kinase. We used one of the bioprobes, the plant alkaloid helenalin, to study the role of CaMKII in apoptosis. Helenalin induced CaMKII, ASK1 and Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK) activity, and inhibition of these kinases inhibited apoptosis.
Our study shows that calcium signaling is generally not an early event during the apoptosis process and suggests that a CaMKII/ASK1 signaling mechanism is important for sustained JNK activation and apoptosis by some types of stimuli.
PMCID: PMC2518916  PMID: 18673549
22.  Identification of cellular pathways affected by Sortin2, a synthetic compound that affects protein targeting to the vacuole in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Sortin2 is a low mass compound that interferes with vacuolar delivery of proteins in plants and yeast. The Sortin2 phenotype was tested in Arabidopsis thaliana and found to be reversible upon drug removal, demonstrating the ability of chemical genomics to induce reversible phenotypes that would be difficult to achieve using conventional genetics [1]. However, standard genetic methods can be used to identify drug target pathways in a high-throughput manner.
In this study, we analyzed structure-function relationships of Sortin2 using structural analogues. The results show the key roles of sulphite substitution and a benzoic acid group. A Sortin 2 hypersensitivity screen for the induced secretion of a vacuolar cargo protein was done utilizing a yeast haploid deletion library. Using bioinformatics approaches, we highlighted functional information about the cellular pathways affected by drug treatment which included protein sorting and other endomembrane system-related processes.
Chemical, genomic and genetics approaches were used to understand the mode of action of Sortin2, a bioactive chemical that affects the delivery of a vacuolar protein. Critical features of Sortin2 structure necessary for bioactivity suggest a binding pocket that may recognize two ends of Sortin2. The genome-wide screen shows that Sortin2 treatment in yeast affects primarily components within the endomembrane system. This approach allowed us to assign putative functions in protein sorting for fifteen genes of previously unknown function.
PMCID: PMC2265672  PMID: 18179719
23.  Enhancement of intracellular γ-tocopherol levels in cytokine-stimulated C3H 10T1/2 fibroblasts: relation to NO synthesis, isoprostane formation, and tocopherol oxidation 
Stimulation of C3H 10T1/2 murine fibroblasts with interferon-γ(IFN) and bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) generates reactive oxygen and nitrogen species leading to DNA damage, lipid oxidation, and tocopherol oxidation. The tocopherols possess unique chemical and biological properties that suggest they have important roles related to intracellular defense against radical-mediated damage.
Despite increased levels of reactive oxidants and decreased media tocopherol, cellular levels of γ-tocopherol, but not α-tocopherol, were observed to increase significantly when cells were treated with IFN/LPS. Inhibition of nitric oxide (NO) synthesis by a specific inhibitor of inducible NO synthase (iNOS) increased both intracellular α-tocopherol and γ-tocopherol concentrations, but did not significantly alter the reduction in media tocopherol levels caused by IFN/LPS treatment. Both exposure to exogenous NO and cellular synthesis of NO in cell culture increased media levels of 8-epi-prostaglandin F2α, a marker of oxidative lipid damage, whereas inhibition of endogenous NO synthesis reduced media 8-epi-prostaglandin F2α formation to control levels.
Elevated intracellular levels of γ-tocopherol in response to the cellular inflammatory state may indicate that it serves a unique role in minimizing cellular damage resulting from endogenous NO synthesis. Results of the current study suggest that NO is an important mediator of damage within the cell, as well as in the oxidation of both α- and γ-tocopherols. The paradoxical increase in cellular tocopherol associated with the induction of NO synthesis may indicate either enhanced cellular transport/decreased export for tocopherols or recruitment of free tocopherol from tocopherol storage molecules.
PMCID: PMC1931582  PMID: 17608946
24.  The effect of amino acid deletions and substitutions in the longest loop of GFP 
The effect of single and multiple amino acid substitutions in the green fluorescent protein (GFP) from Aequorea victoria has been extensively explored, yielding several proteins of diverse spectral properties. However, the role of amino acid deletions in this protein -as with most proteins- is still unknown, due to the technical difficulties involved in generating combinatorial in-phase amino acid deletions on a target region.
In this study, the region I129-L142 of superglo GFP (sgGFP), corresponding to the longest loop of the protein and located far away from the central chromophore, was subjected to a random amino acid deletion approach, employing an in-house recently developed mutagenesis method termed Codon-Based Random Deletion (COBARDE). Only two mutants out of 16384 possible variant proteins retained fluorescence: sgGFP-Δ I129 and sgGFP-Δ D130. Interestingly, both mutants were thermosensitive and at 30°C sgGFP-Δ D130 was more fluorescent than the parent protein. In contrast with deletions, substitutions of single amino acids from residues F131 to L142 were well tolerated. The substitution analysis revealed a particular importance of residues F131, G135, I137, L138, H140 and L142 for the stability of the protein.
The behavior of GFP variants with both amino acid deletions and substitutions demonstrate that this loop is playing an important structural role in GFP folding. Some of the amino acids which tolerated any substitution but no deletion are simply acting as "spacers" to localize important residues in the protein structure.
PMCID: PMC1919350  PMID: 17594481
25.  Studies on the synthesis, characterization, binding with DNA and activities of two cis-planaramineplatinum(II) complexes of the form: cis-PtL(NH3)Cl2 where L = 3-hydroxypyridine and 2,3-diaminopyridine 
Cis-planaramineplatinum(II) complexes like their trans isomers are often found to be active against cancer cell lines. The present study deals with the synthesis, characterization and determination of activity of new cis-planaramineplatinum(II) complexes.
Two cis-planaramineplatinum(II) complexes: cis-(3-hydroxypyridine)(ammine)dichloroplatinum(II) (code named AH3) and cis-(2,3-diaminopyridine)(ammine)dichloroplatinum(II) (code named AH7) have been prepared and characterised based on elemental analyses, IR, Raman, mass and 1H NMR spectral measurements. The interactions of the compounds with pBR322 plasmid DNA have been investigated and their activity against ovarian cancer cell lines: A2780, A2780cisR and A2780ZD047Rhave been determined. Like cisplatin, AH3 and AH7 are believed to form mainly monofunctional N7(G) and bifunctional intrastrand N7(G)N7(G) adducts with DNA, causing a local distortion of a DNA strand. As a result, gel mobility of the DNA changes. Both AH3 and AH7 are found to be less active than cisplatin against the three cell lines with AH3 being the more active compound of the two. The higher activity of AH3 is in line with its lower molar conductivity value corresponding to a lower degree of dissociation.
The differences in activity of AH3, AH7 and cisplatin against the cell lines illustrate structure-activity relationship.
PMCID: PMC1431574  PMID: 16533399

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