Chemical Biology Publications 2018
YEATS domain (YD) containing proteins are an emerging class of epigenetic targets in drug discovery. Dysregulation of these modified lysine-binding proteins has been linked to the onset and progression of cancers. We herein report the discovery and characterisation of the first small-molecule chemical probe, SGC-iMLLT, for the YD of MLLT1 (ENL/YEATS1) and MLLT3 (AF9/YEATS3). SGC-iMLLT is a potent and selective inhibitor of MLLT1/3-histone interactions. Excellent selectivity over other human YD proteins (YEATS2/4) and bromodomains was observed. Furthermore, our probe displays cellular target engagement of MLLT1 and MLLT3. The first small-molecule X-ray co-crystal structures with the MLLT1 YD are also reported. This first-in-class probe molecule can be used to understand MLLT1/3-associated biology and the therapeutic potential of small-molecule YD inhibitors.
Targeting the protein-protein interaction between p53 and MDM2/MDMX (MDM4) represents an attractive anticancer strategy for the treatment of p53-competent tumors. Several selective and potent MDM2 inhibitors have been developed and entered the clinic; however, the repertoire of MDMX antagonists is still limited. The arylmethylidenepyrazolinone SJ-172550 has been reported as a selective MDMX antagonist; yet, uncertainties about its mechanism of action have raised doubts about its use as a chemical probe. Here, we show that, in addition to its unclear mode of action, SJ-172550 is unstable in aqueous buffers, giving rise to side products of unknown biological activity. Using an SJ-172550-derived affinity probe, we observed promiscuous binding to cellular proteins whereas cellular thermal shift assays did not reveal a stabilizing effect on MDMX. Overall, our results raise further questions about the interpretation of data using SJ-172550 and related compounds to investigate cellular phenotypes.
RIPK2 mediates inflammatory signaling by the bacteria-sensing receptors NOD1 and NOD2. Kinase inhibitors targeting RIPK2 are a proposed strategy to ameliorate NOD-mediated pathologies. Here, we reveal that RIPK2 kinase activity is dispensable for NOD2 inflammatory signaling and show that RIPK2 inhibitors function instead by antagonizing XIAP-binding and XIAP-mediated ubiquitination of RIPK2. We map the XIAP binding site on RIPK2 to the loop between β2 and β3 of the N-lobe of the kinase, which is in close proximity to the ATP-binding pocket. Through characterization of a new series of ATP pocket-binding RIPK2 inhibitors, we identify the molecular features that determine their inhibition of both the RIPK2-XIAP interaction, and of cellular and in vivoNOD2 signaling. Our study exemplifies how targeting of the ATP-binding pocket in RIPK2 can be exploited to interfere with the RIPK2-XIAP interaction for modulation of NOD signaling.
The polyadenosine-diphosphate-ribose polymerase 14 (PARP14) has been implicated in DNA damage response pathways for homologous recombination. PARP14 contains three (ADP ribose binding) macrodomains (MD) whose exact contribution to overall PARP14 function in pathology remains unclear. A medium throughput screen led to the identification of N-(2(-9H-carbazol-1-yl)phenyl)acetamide (GeA-69, 1) as a novel allosteric PARP14 MD2 (second MD of PARP14) inhibitor. We herein report medicinal chemistry around this novel chemotype to afford a sub-micromolar PARP14 MD2 inhibitor. This chemical series provides a novel starting point for further development of PARP14 chemical probes.
Cdc2-like kinases (CLKs) represent a family of serine-threonine kinases involved in the regulation of splicing by phosphorylation of SR-proteins and other splicing factors. Although compounds acting against CLKs have been described, only a few show selectivity against dual-specificity tyrosine phosphorylation regulated-kinases (DYRKs). We here report a novel CLK inhibitor family based on a 6,7-dihydropyrrolo[3,4-g]indol-8(1H)-one core scaffold. Within the series, 3-(3-chlorophenyl)-6,7-dihydropyrrolo[3,4-g]indol-8(1H)-one (KuWal151) was identified as inhibitor of CLK1, CLK2 and CLK4 with a high selectivity margin towards DYRK kinases. The compound displayed a potent antiproliferative activity in an array of cultured cancer cell lines. The X-ray structure analyses of three members of the new compound class co-crystallized with CLK proteins corroborated a molecular binding mode predicted by docking studies.
Epigenetics is a rapidly growing field in drug discovery. Of particular interest is the role of post-translational modifications to histones and the proteins that read, write, and erase such modifications. The development of inhibitors for reader domains has focused on single domains. One of the major difficulties of designing inhibitors for reader domains is that, with the notable exception of bromodomains, they tend not to possess a well-enclosed binding site amenable to small-molecule inhibition. As many of the proteins in epigenetic regulation have multiple domains, there are opportunities for designing inhibitors that bind at a domain-domain interface which provide a more suitable interaction pocket. Examination of X-ray structures of multiple domains involved in recognising and modifying post-translational histone marks using the SiteMap algorithm identified potential binding sites at domain-domain interfaces. For the tandem plant homeodomain-bromodomain of SP100C, a potential inter-domain site identified computationally was validated experimentally by the discovery of ligands by X-ray crystallographic fragment screening.
Potent, selective and broadly characterized small molecule modulators of protein function (chemical probes) are powerful research reagents. The pharmaceutical industry has generated many high-quality chemical probes and several of these have been made available to academia. However, probe-associated data and control compounds, such as inactive structurally related molecules and their associated data, are generally not accessible. The lack of data and guidance makes it difficult for researchers to decide which chemical tools to choose. Several pharmaceutical companies (AbbVie, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Janssen, MSD, Pfizer, and Takeda) have therefore entered into a pre-competitive collaboration to make available a large number of innovative high-quality probes, including all probe-associated data, control compounds and recommendations on use (<ext-link ext-link-type="uri" xlink:href="https://openscienceprobes.sgc-frankfurt.de">https://openscienceprobes.sgc-frankfurt.de</ext-link><ext-link ext-link-type="uri" xlink:href="https://openscienceprobes.sgc-frankfurt.de/">/</ext-link>). Here we describe the chemical tools and target-related knowledge that have been made available, and encourage others to join the project.
Conserved water molecules are of interest in drug design, as displacement of such waters can lead to higher affinity ligands and in some cases, contribute towards selectivity. Bromodomains, small protein domains involved in the epigenetic regulation of gene transcription, display a network of four conserved water molecules in their binding pockets and have recently been the focus of intense medicinal chemistry efforts. Understanding why certain bromodomains have displaceable water molecules and others do not is extremely challenging, and it remains unclear which water molecules in a given bromodomain can be targeted for displacement. Here we estimate the stability of the conserved water molecules in 35 bromodomains via binding free energy calculations using all-atom grand canonical Monte Carlo simulations. Encouraging quantitative agreement to the available experimental evidence is found. We thus discuss the expected ease of water displacement in different bromodomains and the implications for ligand selectivity.
Pragmin is a catalytically inactive pseudo-kinase that is important in regulating cellular growth and adhesion. In this issue of Structure, Lecointre et al. (2018) present the structure of Pragmin, illustrating a dimerization domain flanking its pseudo-kinase domain that is important for Pragmin-mediated activation of the non-receptor tyrosine kinase CSK.
Prolonged drug residence times may result in longer-lasting drug efficacy, improved pharmacodynamic properties, and "kinetic selectivity" over off-targets with high drug dissociation rates. However, few strategies have been elaborated to rationally modulate drug residence time and thereby to integrate this key property into the drug development process. Herein, we show that the interaction between a halogen moiety on an inhibitor and an aromatic residue in the target protein can significantly increase inhibitor residence time. By using the interaction of the serine/threonine kinase haspin with 5-iodotubercidin (5-iTU) derivatives as a model for an archetypal active-state (type I) kinase-inhibitor binding mode, we demonstrate that inhibitor residence times markedly increase with the size and polarizability of the halogen atom. The halogen-aromatic π interactions in the haspin-inhibitor complexes were characterized by means of kinetic, thermodynamic, and structural measurements along with binding-energy calculations.
Multivalent binding is an efficient means to enhance the affinity and specificity of chemical probes targeting multidomain proteins in order to study their function and role in disease. While the theory of multivalent binding is straightforward, physical and structural characterization of bivalent binding encounters multiple technical difficulties. We present a case study where a combination of experimental techniques and computational simulations was used to comprehensively characterize the binding and structure-affinity relationships for a series of Bromosporine-based bivalent bromodomain ligands with a bivalent protein, Transcription Initiation Factor TFIID subunit 1 (TAF1). Experimental techniques-Isothermal Titration Calorimetry, X-ray Crystallography, Circular Dichroism, Size Exclusion Chromatography-Multi-Angle Light Scattering, and Surface Plasmon Resonance-were used to determine structures, binding affinities, and kinetics of monovalent ligands and bivalent ligands with varying linker lengths. The experimental data for monomeric ligands were fed into explicit computational simulations, in which both ligand and protein species were present in a broad range of concentrations, and in up to a 100 s time regime, to match experimental conditions. These simulations provided accurate estimates for apparent affinities (in good agreement with experimental data), individual dissociation microconstants and other microscopic details for each type of protein-ligand complex. We conclude that the expected efficiency of bivalent ligands in a cellular context is difficult to estimate by a single technique in vitro, due to higher order associations favored at the concentrations used, and other complicating processes. Rather, a combination of structural, biophysical, and computational approaches should be utilized to estimate and characterize multivalent interactions.
Protein kinases are major drug targets for oncology. The large size of the kinome, active site conservation and the influence of activation states on drug binding complicates the analysis of their cellular mode of action. In a recent article in Science, Klaeger et al. analysed cellular targets of 243 drug candidates providing a large repository of data for drug repurposing.
Recent literature has both suggested and questioned MTH1 as a novel cancer target. BAY-707 was just published as a target validation small molecule probe for assessing the effects of pharmacological inhibition of MTH1 on tumor cell survival, both in vitro and in vivo. (1) In this report, we describe the medicinal chemistry program creating BAY-707, where fragment-based methods were used to develop a series of highly potent and selective MTH1 inhibitors. Using structure-based drug design and rational medicinal chemistry approaches, the potency was increased over 10,000 times from the fragment starting point while maintaining high ligand efficiency and drug-like properties.
The survival rate of cancer patients is steadily increasing, owing to more efficient therapies. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of chemotherapy-induced premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) could identify targets for prevention of POI. Loss of the primordial follicle reserve is the most important cause of POI, with the p53 family member p63 being responsible for DNA-damage-induced apoptosis of resting oocytes. Here, we provide the first detailed mechanistic insight into the activation of p63, a process that requires phosphorylation by both the priming kinase CHK2 and the executioner kinase CK1 in mouse primordial follicles. We further describe the structural changes induced by phosphorylation that enable p63 to adopt its active tetrameric conformation and demonstrate that previously discussed phosphorylation by c-Abl is not involved in this process. Inhibition of CK1 rescues primary oocytes from doxorubicin and cisplatin-induced apoptosis, thus uncovering a new target for the development of fertoprotective therapies.
Protein methyltransferases (PMTs) comprise a major class of epigenetic regulatory enzymes with therapeutic relevance. Here we present a collection of chemical probes and associated reagents and data to elucidate the function of human and murine PMTs in cellular studies. Our collection provides inhibitors and antagonists that together modulate most of the key regulatory methylation marks on histones H3 and H4, providing an important resource for modulating cellular epigenomes. We describe a comprehensive and comparative characterization of the probe collection with respect to their potency, selectivity, and mode of inhibition. We demonstrate the utility of this collection in CD4+ T cell differentiation assays revealing the remarkable potential of individual probes to alter multiple T cell subpopulations with important implications for T cell-mediated processes such as inflammation and immuno-oncology. In particular, we demonstrate a role for DOT1L in limiting Th1 cell differentiation and maintaining lineage integrity.
Though used widely in cancer therapy, paclitaxel only elicits a response in a fraction of patients. A strong determinant of paclitaxel tumor response is the state of microtubule dynamic instability. However, whether the manipulation of this physiological process can be controlled to enhance paclitaxel response has not been tested. Here, we show a previously unrecognized role of the microtubule-associated protein CRMP2 in inducing microtubule bundling through its carboxy terminus. This activity is significantly decreased when the FER tyrosine kinase phosphorylates CRMP2 at Y479 and Y499. The crystal structures of wild-type CRMP2 and CRMP2-Y479E reveal how mimicking phosphorylation prevents tetramerization of CRMP2. Depletion of FER or reducing its catalytic activity using sub-therapeutic doses of inhibitors increases paclitaxel-induced microtubule stability and cytotoxicity in ovarian cancer cells and in vivo. This work provides a rationale for inhibiting FER-mediated CRMP2 phosphorylation to enhance paclitaxel on-target activity for cancer therapy.
Stimulation of renal collecting duct principal cells with antidiuretic hormone (arginine-vasopressin, AVP) results in inhibition of the small GTPase RhoA and the enrichment of the water channel aquaporin-2 (AQP2) in the plasma membrane. The membrane insertion facilitates water reabsorption from primary urine and fine-tuning of body water homeostasis. Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) interact with RhoA, catalyze the exchange of GDP for GTP and thereby activate the GTPase. However, GEFs involved in the control of AQP2 in renal principal cells are unknown. The A-kinase anchoring protein, AKAP-Lbc, possesses GEF activity, specifically activates RhoA, and is expressed in primary renal inner medullary collecting duct principal (IMCD) cells. Through screening of 18,431 small molecules and synthesis of a focused library around one of the hits, we identified an inhibitor of the interaction of AKAP-Lbc and RhoA. This molecule, Scaff10-8, bound to RhoA, inhibited the AKAP-Lbc-mediated RhoA activation but did not interfere with RhoA activation through other GEFs or activities of other members of the Rho family of small GTPases, Rac1 and Cdc42. Scaff10-8 promoted the redistribution of AQP2 from intracellular vesicles to the periphery of IMCD cells. Thus, our data demonstrate an involvement of AKAP-Lbc-mediated RhoA activation in the control of AQP2 trafficking.
For kinase inhibitors, intracellular target selectivity is fundamental to pharmacological mechanism. Although a number of acellular techniques have been developed to measure kinase binding or enzymatic inhibition, such approaches can fail to accurately predict engagement in cells. Here we report the application of an energy transfer technique that enabled the first broad-spectrum, equilibrium-based approach to quantitatively profile target occupancy and compound affinity in live cells. Using this method, we performed a selectivity profiling for clinically relevant kinase inhibitors against 178 full-length kinases, and a mechanistic interrogation of the potency offsets observed between cellular and biochemical analysis. For the multikinase inhibitor crizotinib, our approach accurately predicted cellular potency and revealed improved target selectivity compared with biochemical measurements. Due to cellular ATP, a number of putative crizotinib targets are unexpectedly disengaged in live cells at a clinically relevant drug dose.
Within the last decade, the Bromodomain and Extra-Terminal domain family (BET) of proteins have emerged as promising drug targets in diverse clinical indications including oncology, auto-immune disease, heart failure, and male contraception. The BET family consists of four isoforms (BRD2, BRD3, BRD4, and BRDT/BRDT6) which are distinguished by the presence of two tandem bromodomains (BD1 and BD2) that independently recognize acetylated-lysine (KAc) residues and appear to have distinct biological roles. BET BD1 and BD2 bromodomains differ at five positions near the substrate binding pocket: the variation in the ZA channel induces different water networks nearby. We designed a set of congeneric 2- and 3-heteroaryl substituted tetrahydroquinolines (THQ) to differentially engage bound waters in the ZA channel with the goal of achieving bromodomain selectivity. SJ830599 (9) showed modest, but consistent, selectivity for BRD2-BD2. Using isothermal titration calorimetry, we showed that the binding of all THQ analogs in our study to either of the two bromodomains was enthalpy driven. Remarkably, the binding of 9 to BRD2-BD2 was marked by negative entropy and was entirely driven by enthalpy, consistent with significant restriction of conformational flexibility and/or engagement with bound waters. Co-crystallography studies confirmed that 9 did indeed stabilize a water-mediated hydrogen bond network. Finally, we report that 9 retained cytotoxicity against several pediatric cancer cell lines with EC50 values comparable to BET inhibitor (BETi) clinical candidates.
Drugs that function through covalent bond formation represent a considerable fraction of our repository of effective medicines but safety concerns and the complexity of developing covalent inhibitors has rendered covalent targeting a less attractive strategy for rational drug design. The recent approval of four covalent kinase inhibitors and the development of highly potent covalent kinase probes with exceptional selectivity has raised significant interest in industry and academic research and validated the concept of covalent kinase targeting for clinical applications. The abundance of cysteines at diverse positions in and around the kinase active site suggests that a large fraction of kinases can be targeted by covalent inhibitors. Herein, we review recent developments of this rapidly growing area in kinase drug development and highlight the unique opportunities and challenges of this strategy.
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