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J Biomol Screen [journal]
- Development of Phenotypic Screening Assays for γ-Globin Induction Using Primary Human Bone Marrow Day 7 Erythroid Progenitor Cells. [Journal Article]
- J Biomol Screen 2013 Dec; 18(10):1212-22.
Sickle cell anemia (SCA) is a genetic disorder of the β-globin gene. SCA results in chronic ischemia with pain and tissue injury. The extent of SCA symptoms can be ameliorated by treatment with drugs, which result in increasing the levels of γ-globin in patient red blood cells. Hydroxyurea (HU) is a Food and Drug Administration-approved drug for SCA, but it has dose-limiting toxicity, and patients exhibit highly variable treatment responses. To identify compounds that may lead to the development of better and safer medicines, we have established a method using primary human bone marrow day 7 erythroid progenitor cells (EPCs) to screen for compounds that induce γ-globin production. First, human marrow CD34(+) cells were cultured and expanded for 7 days and characterized for the expression of erythroid differentiation markers (CD71, CD36, and CD235a). Second, fresh or cryopreserved EPCs were treated with compounds for 3 days in 384-well plates followed by γ-globin quantification by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), which was validated using HU and decitabine. From the 7408 compounds screened, we identified at least one new compound with confirmed γ-globin-inducing activity. Hits are undergoing analysis in secondary assays. In this article, we describe the method of generating fit-for-purpose EPCs; the development, optimization, and validation of the ELISA and secondary assays for γ-globin detection; and screening results.
- High-Throughput Fluorescence Anisotropy Screen for Inhibitors of the Oncogenic mRNA Binding Protein, IMP-1. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- J Biomol Screen 2013 Oct 9.
Cancer cell proliferation is regulated by oncogenes, such as c-Myc. An alternative approach to directly targeting individual oncogenes is to target IMP-1, an oncofetal protein that binds to and stabilizes messenger RNAs (mRNAs), leading to elevated expression of c-Myc and other oncogenes. Expression of IMP-1 is tightly correlated with a poor prognosis and reduced survival in ovarian, lung, and colon cancer. Small-molecule inhibitors of IMP-1 have not been reported. We established a fluorescence anisotropy/polarization microplate assay (FAMA) for analyzing binding of IMP-1 to a fluorescein-labeled 93 nucleotide c-Myc mRNA target (flMyc), developed the assay as a highly robust (Z' factor = 0.60) FAMA-based high-throughput screen for inhibitors of binding of IMP-1 to flMyc, and carried out a successful pilot screen of 17,600 small molecules. Our studies support rapidly filtering out toxic nonspecific inhibitors using an early cell-based assay in control cells lacking the target protein. The physiologic importance of verified hits from the in vitro high-throughput screen was demonstrated by identification of the first small-molecule IMP-1 inhibitor, a lead compound that selectively inhibits proliferation of IMP-1-positive cancer cells with very little or no effect on proliferation of IMP-1-negative cells.
- High-content analysis to leverage a robust phenotypic profiling approach to vascular modulation. [Journal Article]
- J Biomol Screen 2013 Dec; 18(10):1246-59.
Phenotypic screening seeks to identify substances that modulate phenotypes in a desired manner with the aim of progressing first-in-class agents. Successful campaigns require physiological relevance, robust screening, and an ability to deconvolute perturbed pathways. High-content analysis (HCA) is increasingly used in cell biology and offers one approach to prosecution of phenotypic screens, but challenges exist in exploitation where data generated are high volume and complex. We combine development of an organotypic model with novel HCA tools to map phenotypic responses to pharmacological perturbations. We describe implementation for angiogenesis, a process that has long been a focus for therapeutic intervention but has lacked robust models that recapitulate more completely mechanisms involved. The study used human primary endothelial cells in co-culture with stromal fibroblasts to model multiple aspects of angiogenic signaling: cell interactions, proliferation, migration, and differentiation. Multiple quantitative descriptors were derived from automated microscopy using custom-designed algorithms. Data were extracted using a bespoke informatics platform that integrates processing, statistics, and feature display into a streamlined workflow for building and interrogating fingerprints. Ninety compounds were characterized, defining mode of action by phenotype. Our approach for assessing phenotypic outcomes in complex assay models is robust and capable of supporting a range of phenotypic screens at scale.
- Building Predictive Models for Mechanism-of-Action Classification from Phenotypic Assay Data Sets. [Journal Article]
- J Biomol Screen 2013 Dec; 18(10):1260-9.
Compound mechanism-of-action information can be critical for drug development decisions but is often challenging for phenotypic drug discovery programs. One concern is that compounds selected by phenotypic screening will have a previously known but undesirable target mechanism. Here we describe a useful method for assigning mechanism class to compounds and bioactive agents using an 84-feature signature from a panel of primary human cell systems (BioMAP systems). For this approach, a reference data set of well-characterized compounds was used to develop predictive models for 28 mechanism classes using support vector machines. These mechanism classes encompass safety and efficacy-related mechanisms, include both target-specific and pathway-based classes, and cover the most common mechanisms identified in phenotypic screens, such as inhibitors of mitochondrial and microtubule function, histone deacetylase, and cAMP elevators. Here we describe the performance and the application of these predictive models in a decision scheme for triaging phenotypic screening hits using a previously published data set of 309 environmental chemicals tested as part of the Environmental Protection Agency's ToxCast program. By providing quantified membership in specific mechanism classes, this approach is suitable for identification of off-target toxicity mechanisms as well as enabling target deconvolution of phenotypic drug discovery hits.
- Development of a High-Throughput AlphaScreen Assay for Modulators of Synapsin I Phosphorylation in Primary Neurons. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- J Biomol Screen 2013 Oct 2.
Alterations in synaptic transmission have been implicated in a number of psychiatric and neurological disorders. The discovery of small-molecule modulators of proteins that regulate neurotransmission represents a novel therapeutic strategy for these diseases. However, high-throughput screening (HTS) approaches in primary neurons have been limited by challenges in preparing and applying primary neuronal cultures under conditions required for generating sufficiently robust and sensitive HTS assays. Synapsin I is an abundant presynaptic protein that plays a critical role in neurotransmission through tethering synaptic vesicles to the actin cytoskeleton. It has several phosphorylation sites that regulate its modulation of synaptic vesicle trafficking and, therefore, the efficacy of synaptic transmission. Here, we describe the development of a rapid, sensitive, and homogeneous assay to detect phospho-synapsin I (pSYN1) in primary cortical neurons in 384-well plates using AlphaScreen technology. From results of a pilot screening campaign, we show that the assay can identify compounds that modulate synapsin I phosphorylation via multiple signaling pathways. The implementation of the AlphaScreen pSYN1 assay and future development of additional primary neuronal HTS assays provides an attractive approach for discovery of novel classes of therapeutic candidates for a variety of CNS disorders.
- Clinical relevance of target identity and biology: implications for drug discovery and development. [Journal Article]
- J Biomol Screen 2013 Dec; 18(10):1164-85.
Many of the most commonly used drugs precede techniques for target identification and drug specificity and were developed on the basis of efficacy and safety, an approach referred to as classical pharmacology and, more recently, phenotypic drug discovery. Although substantial gains have been made during the period of focus on target-based approaches, particularly in oncology, these approaches have suffered a high overall failure rate and lower productivity in terms of new drugs when compared with phenotypic approaches. This review considers the importance of target identity and biology in clinical practice from the prescriber's viewpoint. In evaluating influences on prescribing behavior, studies suggest that target identity and mechanism of action are not significant factors in drug choice. Rather, patients and providers consistently value efficacy, safety, and tolerability. Similarly, the Food and Drug Administration requires evidence of safety and efficacy for new drugs but does not require knowledge of drug target identity or target biology. Prescribers do favor drugs with novel mechanisms, but this preference is limited to diseases for which treatments are either not available or suboptimal. Thus, while understanding of drug target and target biology is important from a scientific perspective, it is not particularly important to prescribers, who prioritize efficacy and safety.
- Neoclassic drug discovery: the case for lead generation using phenotypic and functional approaches. [Journal Article]
- J Biomol Screen 2013 Dec; 18(10):1143-55.
Innovation and new molecular entity production by the pharmaceutical industry has been below expectations. Surprisingly, more first-in-class small-molecule drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 1999 and 2008 were identified by functional phenotypic lead generation strategies reminiscent of pre-genomics pharmacology than contemporary molecular targeted strategies that encompass the vast majority of lead generation efforts. This observation, in conjunction with the difficulty in validating molecular targets for drug discovery, has diminished the impact of the "genomics revolution" and has led to a growing grassroots movement and now broader trend in pharma to reconsider the use of modern physiology-based or phenotypic drug discovery (PDD) strategies. This "From the Guest Editors" column provides an introduction and overview of the two-part special issues of Journal of Biomolecular Screening on PDD. Terminology and the business case for use of PDD are defined. Key issues such as assay performance, chemical optimization, target identification, and challenges to the organization and implementation of PDD are discussed. Possible solutions for these challenges and a new neoclassic vision for PDD that combines phenotypic and functional approaches with technology innovations resulting from the genomics-driven era of target-based drug discovery (TDD) are also described. Finally, an overview of the manuscripts in this special edition is provided.
- A High-Throughput-Compatible 3D Microtissue Co-Culture System for Phenotypic RNAi Screening Applications. [Journal Article]
- J Biomol Screen 2013 Dec; 18(10):1330-7.
Cancer cells in vivo are coordinately influenced by an interactive 3D microenvironment. However, identification of drug targets and initial target validations are usually performed in 2D cell culture systems. The opportunity to design 3D co-culture models that reflect, at least in part, these heterotypic interactions, when coupled with RNA interference, would enable investigations on the phenotypic impact of gene function in a model that more closely resembles tumor growth in vivo. Here we describe a high-throughput-compatible method to discover cancer gene functions in a co-culture 3D tumor microtissue model system composed of human DLD1 colon cancer cells together with murine fibroblasts. Strikingly, DLD1 cells in this model failed to expand upon siRNA-mediated depletion of Kif11/Eg5, a member of the mitotic kinesin-like motor protein family. In contrast, these cancer cells proved to be more resistant to Kif11/Eg5 depletion when grown as a 2D monolayer. These results suggest that growth of certain cancer cells in 3D versus 2D can unveil differential dependencies on specific genes for their survival. Moreover, they denote that the high-throughput-compatible, hanging drop technology-based 3D co-culture model will enable the discovery, characterization, and validation of gene functions in key biological and pathological processes.
- Quick Evaluation of Kinase Inhibitors by Surface Plasmon Resonance Using Single-Site Specifically Biotinylated Kinases. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- J Biomol Screen 2013 Sep 30.
In evaluating kinase inhibitors, kinetic parameters such as association/dissociation rate constants are valuable information, as are equilibrium parameters KD and IC50 values. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) is a powerful technique to investigate these parameters. However, results are often complicated because of impaired conformations by inappropriate conditions required for protein immobilization and/or heterogeneity of the orientation of immobilization. In addition, conventional SPR experiments are generally time-consuming. Here we introduce the use of single-site specifically biotinylated kinases combined with a multichannel SPR device to improve such problems. Kinetic parameters of four compounds-staurosporine, dasatinib, sunitinib, and lapatinib-against six kinases were determined by the ProteOn XPR36 system. The very slow off-rate of lapatinib from the epidermal growth factor receptor and dasatinib from Bruton's tyrosine kinase and colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) were confirmed. Furthermore, IC50 values were determined by an activity-based assay. Evaluating both physicochemical and biochemical properties would help to understand the detailed character of the compound.
- High-Throughput Screens for eEF-2 Kinase. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- J Biomol Screen 2013 Sep 27.
eEF-2 kinase is a potential therapeutic target for breast cancer, gliomas, and depression. No potent inhibitors of eEF-2K have been reported, and thus development of high-throughput assay systems may expedite the process. Two high-throughput assays are described for eEF-2K using recombinant, tag-free enzyme purified from bacteria. The first is a fluorescence-based assay that uses the phosphorylation of a Sox-based peptide substrate by eEF-2K, which results in a 5-fold increase in fluorescence emission, allowing for continuous monitoring of the kinase activity. The second is a luminescence-based assay that produces a luminescence signal, which correlates with the amount of adenosine triphosphate remaining in the kinase reaction. Both assays have been optimized and miniaturized for a 384-well plate format and validated in screens. In conclusion, we demonstrated that a traditional radiolabeled assay can be readily transferred to universal spectroscopic assays that are robust and will facilitate high-throughput screening of larger size libraries for the identification of small-molecule inhibitors and significantly contribute to the development of therapies for targeting eEF2K.