Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Enzyme inhibitor


Kinase inhibitors are effective cancer therapies, but tumors frequently develop resistance. Current strategies to circumvent resistance target the same or parallel pathways. We report here that targeting a completely different process, autophagy, can overcome multiple BRAF inhibitor resistance mechanisms in brain tumors. BRAF(V600E)mutations occur in many pediatric brain tumors. We previously reported that these tumors are autophagy-dependent and a patient was successfully treated with the autophagy inhibitor chloroquine after failure of the BRAF(V600E) inhibitor vemurafenib, suggesting autophagy inhibition overcame the kinase inhibitor resistance. We tested this hypothesis in vemurafenib-resistant brain tumors. Genetic and pharmacological autophagy inhibition overcame molecularly distinct resistance mechanisms, inhibited tumor cell growth, and increased cell death. Patients with resistance had favorable clinical responses when chloroquine was added to vemurafenib. This provides a fundamentally different strategy to circumvent multiple mechanisms of kinase inhibitor resistance that could be rapidly tested in clinical trials in patients with BRAF(V600E) brain tumors.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Oncology, Brain tumor, Tumor, Neoplasm, Enzyme inhibitor, Inhibitor


TRPV4 ion channels represent osmo-mechano-TRP channels with pleiotropic function and wide-spread expression. One of the critical functions of TRPV4 in this spectrum is its involvement in pain and inflammation. However, few small-molecule inhibitors of TRPV4 are available. Here we developed TRPV4-inhibitory molecules based on modifications of a known TRPV4-selective tool-compound, GSK205. We not only increased TRPV4-inhibitory potency, but surprisingly also generated two compounds that potently co-inhibit TRPA1, known to function as chemical sensor of noxious and irritant signaling. We demonstrate TRPV4 inhibition by these compounds in primary cells with known TRPV4 expression - articular chondrocytes and astrocytes. Importantly, our novel compounds attenuate pain behavior in a trigeminal irritant pain model that is known to rely on TRPV4 and TRPA1. Furthermore, our novel dual-channel blocker inhibited inflammation and pain-associated behavior in a model of acute pancreatitis - known to also rely on TRPV4 and TRPA1. Our results illustrate proof of a novel concept inherent in our prototype compounds of a drug that targets two functionally-related TRP channels, and thus can be used to combat isoforms of pain and inflammation in-vivo that involve more than one TRP channel. This approach could provide a novel paradigm for treating other relevant health conditions.

Concepts: Protein, Molecule, Chemistry, Enzyme inhibitor, Chemical compound, Ion channels, Transient receptor potential channel, TRPV


The primary defence against mosquitoes and other disease vectors is often the application of a repellent. Despite their common use, the mechanism(s) underlying the activity of repellents is not fully understood, with even the mode of action of DEET having been reported to be via different mechanisms; e.g. interference with olfactory receptor neurones or actively detected by olfactory receptor neurones on the antennae or maxillary palps. In this study, we discuss a novel mechanism for repellence, one of P450 inhibition. Thirteen essential oil extracts from Colombian plants were assayed for potency as P450 inhibitors, using a kinetic fluorometric assay, and for repellency using a modified World Health Organisation Pesticide Evaluations Scheme (WHOPES) arm-in cage assay with Stegomyia (Aedes) aegypti mosquitoes. Bootstrap analysis on the inhibition analysis revealed a significant correlation between P450-inhibition and repellent activity of the oils.

Concepts: Mosquito, Enzyme inhibitor, Inhibitor, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Xanthine oxidase inhibitor, Insect repellent, Oil


Activated RAS promotes dimerization of members of the RAF kinase family. ATP-competitive RAF inhibitors activate ERK signalling by transactivating RAF dimers. In melanomas with mutant BRAF(V600E), levels of RAS activation are low and these drugs bind to BRAF(V600E) monomers and inhibit their activity. This tumour-specific inhibition of ERK signalling results in a broad therapeutic index and RAF inhibitors have remarkable clinical activity in patients with melanomas that harbour mutant BRAF(V600E). However, resistance invariably develops. Here, we identify a new resistance mechanism. We find that a subset of cells resistant to vemurafenib (PLX4032, RG7204) express a 61-kDa variant form of BRAF(V600E), p61BRAF(V600E), which lacks exons 4-8, a region that encompasses the RAS-binding domain. p61BRAF(V600E) shows enhanced dimerization in cells with low levels of RAS activation, as compared to full-length BRAF(V600E). In cells in which p61BRAF(V600E) is expressed endogenously or ectopically, ERK signalling is resistant to the RAF inhibitor. Moreover, a mutation that abolishes the dimerization of p61BRAF(V600E) restores its sensitivity to vemurafenib. Finally, we identified BRAF(V600E) splicing variants lacking the RAS-binding domain in the tumours of six of nineteen patients with acquired resistance to vemurafenib. These data support the model that inhibition of ERK signalling by RAF inhibitors is dependent on levels of RAS-GTP too low to support RAF dimerization and identify a novel mechanism of acquired resistance in patients: expression of splicing isoforms of BRAF(V600E) that dimerize in a RAS-independent manner.

Concepts: Gene expression, Transcription factor, Enzyme inhibitor, Dimer, Monomer, Inhibitor, Xanthine oxidase inhibitor, Alternative splicing


Identification of a systemically acting and universal small molecule therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy would be an enormous advance for this condition. Based on evidence gained from studies on mouse genetic models we have identified tyrosine phosphorylation and degradation of β-dystroglycan as a key event in the aetiology of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Thus preventing tyrosine phosphorylation and degradation of β-dystroglycan presents itself as a potential therapeutic strategy. Using the dystrophic sapje zebrafish we have investigated the use of tyrosine kinase and other inhibitors to treat the dystrophic symptoms in this model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Dasatinib, a potent and specific Src tyrosine kinase inhibitor was found to decrease the levels of β-dystroglycan phosphorylation on tyrosine and increase the relative levels of non-phosphorylated β-dystroglycan in sapje zebrafish. Furthermore, dasatinib treatment resulted in the improved physical appearance of the sapje zebrafish musculature and increased swimming ability as measured by both duration and distance of swimming dasatinib treated fish compared to control animals. These data suggest great promise for pharmacological agents that prevent the phosphorylation of β-dystroglycan on tyrosine and subsequent steps in the degradation pathway as therapeutic targets for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Protein kinase, Phosphorylation, Enzyme inhibitor, Electromyography, Muscular dystrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Morpholino


Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) patients develop benign neurofibromas and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST). These incurable peripheral nerve tumors result from loss of NF1 tumor suppressor gene function, causing hyperactive Ras signaling. Activated Ras controls numerous downstream effectors, but specific pathways mediating the effects of hyperactive Ras in NF1 tumors are unknown. We performed cross-species transcriptome analyses of mouse and human neurofibromas and MPNSTs and identified global negative feedback of genes that regulate Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signaling in both species. Nonetheless, ERK activation was sustained in mouse and human neurofibromas and MPNST. We used a highly selective pharmacological inhibitor of MEK, PD0325901, to test whether sustained Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signaling contributes to neurofibroma growth in a neurofibromatosis mouse model (Nf1fl/fl;Dhh-Cre) or in NF1 patient MPNST cell xenografts. PD0325901 treatment reduced aberrantly proliferating cells in neurofibroma and MPNST, prolonged survival of mice implanted with human MPNST cells, and shrank neurofibromas in more than 80% of mice tested. Our data demonstrate that deregulated Ras/ERK signaling is critical for the growth of NF1 peripheral nerve tumors and provide a strong rationale for testing MEK inhibitors in NF1 clinical trials.

Concepts: Gene, Cancer, Oncology, Action potential, Enzyme inhibitor, Neurofibromatosis, Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor, Nerve sheath tumor


Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) is the most common sarcoma of the gastrointestinal tract and arises from the interstitial cells of Cajal. It is characterized by expression of the receptor tyrosine kinase CD117 (KIT). In 70-80% of GIST cases, oncogenic mutations in KIT are present, leading to constitutive activation of the receptor, which drives the proliferation of these tumors. Treatment of GIST with imatinib, a small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor, inhibits KIT-mediated signaling and initially results in disease control in 70-85% of patients with KIT-positive GIST. However, the vast majority of patients eventually develop resistance to imatinib treatment, leading to disease progression and posing a significant challenge in the clinical management of these tumors. Here, we show that an anti-KIT monoclonal antibody (mAb), SR1, is able to slow the growth of three human GIST cell lines in vitro. Importantly, these reductions in cell growth were equivalent between imatinib-resistant and imatinib-sensitive GIST cell lines. Treatment of GIST cell lines with SR1 reduces cell-surface KIT expression, suggesting that mAb-induced KIT down-regulation may be a mechanism by which SR1 inhibits GIST growth. Furthermore, we also show that SR1 treatment enhances phagocytosis of GIST cells by macrophages, indicating that treatment with SR1 may enhance immune cell-mediated tumor clearance. Finally, using two xenotransplantation models of imatinib-sensitive and imatinib-resistant GIST, we demonstrate that SR1 is able to strongly inhibit tumor growth in vivo. These results suggest that treatment with mAbs targeting KIT may represent an alternative, or complementary, approach for treating GIST.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Cancer, Bacteria, Signal transduction, Monoclonal antibodies, Enzyme inhibitor, Gastrointestinal stromal tumor


Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs), etiological agents of the life threatening neuroparalytic disease botulism, are the most toxic substances currently known. The potential for the use as bioweapon makes the development of small-molecule inhibitor against these deadly toxins is a top priority. Currently, there are no approved pharmacological treatments for BoNT intoxication. Although an effective vaccine/immunotherapy is available for immuno-prophylaxis but this cannot reverse the effects of toxin inside neurons. A small-molecule pharmacological intervention, especially one that would be effective against the light chain protease, would be highly desirable. Similarity search was carried out from ChemBridge and NSC libraries to the hit (7-(phenyl(8-quinolinylamino)methyl)-8-quinolinol; NSC 84096) to mine its analogs. Several hits obtained were screened for in silico inhibition using AutoDock 4.1 and 19 new molecules selected based on binding energy and Ki. Among these, eleven quinolinol derivatives potently inhibited in vitro endopeptidase activity of botulinum neurotoxin type A light chain (rBoNT/A-LC) on synaptosomes isolated from rat brain which simulate the in vivo system. Five of these inhibitor molecules exhibited IC(50) values ranging from 3.0 nM to 10.0 µM. NSC 84087 is the most potent inhibitor reported so far, found to be a promising lead for therapeutic development, as it exhibits no toxicity, and is able to protect animals from pre and post challenge of botulinum neurotoxin type A (BoNT/A).

Concepts: In vivo, Action potential, Enzyme inhibitor, In vitro, Toxin, Botulinum toxin, Microbial toxins, Clostridium botulinum


A library of 367 protein kinase inhibitors, the GSK Published Kinase Inhibitor Set (PKIS), which has been annotated for protein kinase family activity and is available for public screening efforts, was assayed against the commonly used luciferase reporter enzymes from the firefly, Photinus pyralis (FLuc) and marine sea pansy, Renilla reniformis (RLuc). A total of 22 compounds (∼6% of the library) were found to inhibit FLuc with 10 compounds showing potencies ≤1 µM. Only two compounds were found to inhibit RLuc, and these showed relatively weak potency values (∼10 µM). An inhibitor series of the VEGFR2/TIE2 protein kinase family containing either an aryl oxazole or benzimidazole-urea core illustrate the different structure activity relationship profiles FLuc inhibitors can display for kinase inhibitor chemotypes. Several FLuc inhibitors were broadly active toward the tyrosine kinase and CDK families. These data should aid in interpreting the results derived from screens employing the GSK PKIS in cell-based assays using the FLuc reporter. The study also underscores the general need for strategies such as the use of orthogonal reporters to identify kinase or non-kinase mediated cellular responses.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Enzyme, Protein kinase, Enzyme inhibitor, Inhibitor, Protein kinase inhibitor, Luciferase, Sea pansy


Fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs), in particular FABP5 and FABP7, have recently been identified by us as intracellular transporters for the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA). Furthermore, animal studies by others have shown that elevated levels of endocannabinoids resulted in beneficial pharmacological effects on stress, pain and inflammation and also ameliorate the effects of drug withdrawal. Based on these observations, we hypothesized that FABP5 and FABP7 would provide excellent pharmacological targets. Thus, we performed a virtual screening of over one million compounds using DOCK and employed a novel footprint similarity scoring function to identify lead compounds with binding profiles similar to oleic acid, a natural FABP substrate. Forty-eight compounds were purchased based on their footprint similarity scores (FPS) and assayed for biological activity against purified human FABP5 employing a fluorescent displacement-binding assay. Four compounds were found to exhibit approximately 50% inhibition or greater at 10 µM, as good as or better inhibitors of FABP5 than BMS309403, a commercially available inhibitor. The most potent inhibitor, γ-truxillic acid 1-naphthyl ester (ChemDiv 8009-2334), was determined to have K(i) value of 1.19±0.01 µM. Accordingly a novel α-truxillic acid 1-naphthyl mono-ester (SB-FI-26) was synthesized and assayed for its inhibitory activity against FABP5, wherein SB-FI-26 exhibited strong binding (K(i) 0.93±0.08 µM). Additionally, we found SB-FI-26 to act as a potent anti-nociceptive agent with mild anti-inflammatory activity in mice, which strongly supports our hypothesis that the inhibition of FABPs and subsequent elevation of anandamide is a promising new approach to drug discovery. Truxillic acids and their derivatives were also shown by others to have anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive effects in mice and to be the active component of Chinese a herbal medicine (Incarvillea sinensis) used to treat rheumatism and pain in humans. Our results provide a likely mechanism by which these compounds exert their effects.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Fatty acid, Enzyme inhibitor, Drug discovery, Inhibitor, Oleic acid, Linoleic acid, Fatty acid-binding protein