The ?7 acetylcholine nicotine receptor is a ligand-gated ion channel that is involved in cognition disorders, schizophrenia, pain and inflammation among other diseases. Therefore, the development of new agents that target this receptor has great significance. Positive allosteric modulators might be advantageous, since they facilitate receptor responses without directly interacting with the agonist binding site. Here we report the search for and further design of new positive allosteric modulators having the relatively simple chalcone structure. From the natural product isoliquiritigenin as starting point, chalcones substituted with hydroxyl groups at defined locations were identified as optimal and specific promoters of ?7 nicotinic function. The most potent compound (2,4,2',5'-tetrahydroxychalcone, 111) was further characterized showing its potential as neuroprotective, analgesic and cognitive enhancer, opening the way for future developments around the chalcone structure.
Protein-protein interactions (PPIs) have emerged as important targets for pharmaceutical intervention because of their essential role in numerous physiological and pathological processes, but screening efforts using small-molecules have led to very low hit rates. Linear peptides could represent a quick and effective approach to discover initial PPI hits, particularly if they have inherent ability to adopt specific peptide secondary structures. Here, we address this hypothesis through a linear helical peptide library, composed of four sublibraries, which was designed by theoretical predictions of helicity (Agadir software). The 13-mer peptides of this collection fixes either a combination of three aromatic or two aromatic and one aliphatic residues on one face of the helix (Ac-SSEEX(5)ARNX(9)AAX(12)N-NH2), since these are structural features quite common at PPIs interfaces. The 81 designed peptides were conveniently synthesized by parallel solid-phase methodologies, and the tendency of some representative library components to adopt the intended secondary structure was corroborated through CD and NMR experiments. As proof of concept in the search for PPI modulators, the usefulness of this library was verified on the widely studied p53-MDM2 interaction and on the communication between VEGF and its receptor Flt-1, two PPIs for which a hydrophobic ?-helix is essential for the interaction. We have demonstrated here that, in both cases, selected peptides from the library, containing the right hydrophobic sequence of the hot-spot in one of the protein partners, are able to interact with the complementary protein. Moreover, we have discover some new, quite potent inhibitors of the VEGF-Flt-1 interaction, just by replacing one of the aromatic residues of the initial F(5)Y(9)Y(12) peptide by W, in agreement with previous results on related antiangiogenic peptides. Finally, the HTS evaluation of the full collection on thermoTRPs has led to a few antagonists of TRPV1 and TRPA1 channels, which open new avenues on the way to innovative modulators of these channels.
1,2-Diamine derivatives are valuable building blocks to heterocyclic compounds and important precursors of biologically relevant compounds. In this respect, amino acid-derived ?-keto esters are a suitable starting point for the synthesis of ?,?-diamino ester derivatives through a two-step reductive amination procedure with either simple amines or ?-amino esters. AcOH and NaBH(3)CN are the additive and reducing agents of choice. The stereoselectivity of the reaction is still an issue, due to the slow imine-enamine equilibria through which the reaction occurs, affording mixtures of diastereoisomers that can be chromatographically separated. Transformation of the ?,?-diamino esters into pyrrolidinone derivatives allows the configuration assignment of the linear compounds, and constitutes an example of their potential application in the generation of molecular diversity.
One approach to develop successful pain therapies is the modulation of dysfunctional ion channels that contribute to the detection of thermal, mechanical and chemical painful stimuli. These ion channels, known as thermoTRPs, promote the sensitization and activation of primary sensory neurons known as nociceptors. Pharmacological blockade and genetic deletion of thermoTRP have validated these channels as therapeutic targets for pain intervention. Several thermoTRP modulators have progressed towards clinical development, although most failed because of the appearance of unpredicted side effects. Thus, there is yet a need to develop novel channel modulators with improved therapeutic index. Here, we review the current state-of-the art and illustrate new pharmacological paradigms based on TRPV1 that include: (i) the identification of activity-dependent modulators of this thermoTRP channel; (ii) the design of allosteric modulators that interfere with protein-protein interaction involved in the functional coupling of stimulus sensing and gate opening; and (iii) the development of compounds that abrogate the inflammation-mediated increase of receptor expression in the neuronal surface. These new sites of action represent novel strategies to modulate pathologically active TRPV1, while minimizing an effect on the TRPV1 subpopulation involved in physiological and protective roles, thus increasing their potential therapeutic use.
The thermosensory transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 channel (TRPV1) is a polymodal receptor activated by physical and chemical stimuli. TRPV1 activity is drastically potentiated by proinflammatory agents released upon tissue damage. Given the pivotal role of TRPV1 in human pain, there is pressing need for improved TRPV1 antagonists, the development of which will require identification of new pharmacophore scaffolds. Uncompetitive antagonists acting as open-channel blockers might serve as activity-dependent blockers that preferentially modulate the activity of overactive channels, thus displaying fewer side effects than their competitive counterparts. Herein we report the design, synthesis, biological evaluation, and SAR analysis of a family of triazine-based compounds acting as TRPV1 uncompetitive antagonists. We identified the triazine 8aA as a potent, pure antagonist that inhibits TRPV1 channel activity with nanomolar efficacy and strong voltage dependency. It represents a new class of activity-dependent TRPV1 antagonists and may serve as the basis for lead optimization in the development of new analgesics.
Ion channels are involved in a broad range of physiological and pathological processes. The implications of ion channels in a variety of diseases, including diabetes, epilepsy, hypertension, cancer and even chronic pain, have signaled them as pivotal drug targets. Thus far, drugs targeting ion channels were developed without detailed knowledge of the molecular interactions between the lead compounds and the target channels. In recent years, however, the emergence of high-resolution structures for a plethora of ion channels paves the way for computer-assisted drug design. Currently, available functional and structural data provide an attractive platform to generate models that combine substrate-based and protein-based approaches. In silico approaches include homology modeling, quantitative structure-activity relationships, virtual ligand screening, similarity and pharmacophore searching, data mining, and data analysis tools. These strategies have been frequently used in the discovery and optimization of novel molecules with enhanced affinity and specificity for the selected therapeutic targets. In this review we summarize recent applications of in silico methods that are being used for the development of ion channel drugs.
Some heterocyclic systems, called privileged scaffolds, appear frequently in bioactive products and marketed drugs. The combination of a recognized privileged scaffold (hydantoin) and a functional group with high incidence in bioactive molecules (guanidine) guided the design of a library of amphipatic compounds, which allowed the discovery of novel TRPV1 ion channel blockers. The library was synthesized by parallel solid-phase synthesis from an orthogonally protected resin-bound Lys-Lys skeleton. Key steps of the synthetic procedure were the construction of the hydantoin ring, by reaction of the N-terminal amino group with N,N-disuccinimidyl carbonate (DSC) and subsequent base-induced cyclization, and the guanidinylation of the C-terminal Lys side-chain after removal of the Alloc protecting-group. The preliminary biological studies have allowed the identification of some of the key structural features directing the blockage of capsaicin-induced Ca(2+) influx through TRPV1 channels, particularly, the strong preference showed for highly lipophilic acyl groups and substituted guanidine moieties. Active compounds based on this new pharmacophoric scaffold that display in vitro and in vivo inhibitory activity.
The transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) is a thermoreceptor that responds to noxious temperatures, as well as to chemical agonists, such as vanilloids and protons. In addition, its channel activity is notably potentiated by proinflammatory mediators released upon tissue damage. The TRPV1 contribution to sensory neuron sensitization by proalgesic agents has signaled this receptor as a prime target for analgesic and anti-inflammatory drug intervention. However, TRPV1 antagonists have notably failed in clinical and preclinical studies because of their unwanted side effects. Recent reports have unveiled previously unrecognized anti-inflammatory and protective functions of TRPV1 in several diseases. For instance, this channel has been suggested to play an anti-inflammatory role in sepsis. Therefore, the use of potent TRPV1 antagonists as a general strategy to treat inflammation must be cautiously considered, given the deleterious effects that may arise from inhibiting the population of channels that have a protective function. The use of TRPV1 antagonists may be limited to treating those pathologies where enhanced receptor activity contributes to the inflamed state. Alternatively, therapeutic paradigms, such as reduction of inflammatory-mediated increase of receptor expression in the cell surface, may be a better strategy to prevent abrogation of the TRPV1 subpopulation involved in anti-inflammatory and protective processes.
The transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channel is a thermosensory receptor implicated in diverse physiological and pathological processes. The TRP domain, a highly conserved region in the C terminus adjacent to the internal channel gate, is critical for subunit tetramerization and channel gating. Here, we show that cell-penetrating, membrane-anchored peptides patterned after this protein domain are moderate and selective TRPV1 antagonists both in vitro and in vivo, blocking receptor activity in intact rat primary sensory neurons and their peripheral axons with mean decline time of 30 min. The most potent lipopeptide, TRP-p5, blocked all modes of TRPV1 gating with micromolar efficacy (IC(50)<10 ?M), without significantly affecting other thermoTRP channels. In contrast, its retrosequence or the corresponding sequences of other TRPV channels did not alter TRPV1 channel activity (IC(50)>100 ?M). TRP-p5 did not affect the capsaicin sensitivity of the vanilloid receptor. Our data suggest that TRP-p5 interferes with protein-protein interactions at the level of the TRP domain that are essential for the "conformational" change that leads to gate opening. Therefore, these palmitoylated peptides, which we termed TRPducins, are noncompetitive, voltage-independent, sequence-specific TRPV1 blockers. Our findings indicate that TRPducin-like peptides may embody a novel molecular strategy that can be exploited to generate a selective pharmacological arsenal for the TRP superfamily of ion channels.
Trp(Nps)-Lys-NH(2) derivatives, bearing alkyl or guanidine groups either at the N-terminus or on the Lys side-chain or at both positions were conveniently prepared on solid-phase and evaluated as TRPV1 channel antagonists.
In this work, we illustrate the ability of the prokaryotic potassium channel KcsA to assemble into a variety of supramolecular clusters of defined sizes containing the tetrameric KcsA as the repeating unit. Such clusters, particularly the larger ones, are markedly detergent-labile and thus, disassemble readily upon exposure to the detergents commonly used in protein purification or conventional electrophoresis analysis. This is a reversible process, as cluster re-assembly occurs upon detergent removal and without the need of added membrane lipids. Interestingly, the dimeric ensemble between two tetrameric KcsA molecules are quite resistant to detergent disassembly to individual KcsA tetramers and along with the latter, are likely the basic building blocks through which the larger clusters are organized. As to the proteins domains involved in clustering, we have observed disassembly of KcsA clusters by SDS-like alkyl sulfates. As these amphiphiles bind to inter-subunit, "non-annular" sites on the protein, these observations suggest that such sites also mediate channel-channel interactions leading to cluster assembly.
Thermosensory channels are a subfamily of the transient receptor potential (TRP) channel family that are activated by changes in the environmental temperature. These channels, known as thermoTRPs, cover the entire spectrum of temperatures, from noxious cold (< 15°C) to injurious heat (> 42°C). In addition, dysfunction of these channels contributes to the thermal hypersensitivity that accompanies painful conditions. Moreover, because of their wide tissue and cellular distribution, thermoTRPs are also involved in the pathophysiology of several diseases, from inflammation to cancer.
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