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1.  Chemogenetic fingerprinting by analysis of cellular growth dynamics 
Background
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.
Results
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.
Discussion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6769-8-3
PMCID: PMC2532679  PMID: 18721464
2.  Charting calcium-regulated apoptosis pathways using chemical biology: role of calmodulin kinase II 
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6769-8-2
PMCID: PMC2518916  PMID: 18673549
3.  Identification of cellular pathways affected by Sortin2, a synthetic compound that affects protein targeting to the vacuole in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6769-8-1
PMCID: PMC2265672  PMID: 18179719

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