A Landmark Study Demonstrates that ‘Complexes Matter’ in How Epigenetic Inhibitors Interact with Their Drug Targets
News Jan 24, 2011
In the study, scientists from Cellzome have demonstrated for the first time that complexes really matter to how small molecule inhibitors ‘see’ their target.
Epigenetic targets, those are targets that modify either DNA or its histone packaging to switch genes on or off, are of increasing interest in drug discovery. HDACs are emerging as an important class of epigenetic targets but existing drugs, and many in development, are non-selective with potential safety issues. The paper published today, entitled 'Chemoproteomic profiling of HDAC inhibitors reveals targeting of multiple HDAC complexes with compound class-dependent selectivity' describes a detailed analysis of 16 HDAC inhibitors and reports distinct patterns of selectivity not only within the HDAC family, but also between the different complexes within which these enzymes operate. This is the first study that measures the binding of small molecules to native large protein complexes: results show that distinct complexes, all of which contain HDAC1/HDAC2 as the catalytic core, exhibit differential inhibition across a set of inhibitors.
Commenting on the results, Gerard Drewes PhD, senior author of the publication said: “The scientific and drug discovery community may need to revise their concept of a ‘drug target’ to include consideration not just of the target protein but also of the protein’s associated complex, as we continue to learn more about the subtle interactions between drugs and proteins in their natural environments rather than as purified enzymes”.
This chemoproteomic study uses Cellzome’s unique Episphere™ platform, to identify compounds which target not only the correct enzyme, but the correct complex.
Based on these new data, the Cellzome team was able to define a novel HDAC complex formed during mitosis termed MiDAC, that may be of relevance in oncology.
Tim Edwards, CEO of Cellzome added: “This publication demonstrates how important it is to measure the action of drugs in the physiological context in which the targets operate. We look forward to extending our studies and in exploring collaborations with others, both in the HDAC space and in other epigenetic areas of interest outside of inflammation such as oncology and neurology where we have considerable expertise”.
Cellzome signed an agreement with GSK in February 2010 to apply its Episphere™ platform to deliver candidate drugs for immuno-inflammatory diseases against certain epigenetic targets of four different target classes.
Epigenetic memory of transcriptional gene silencing has been observed in several organisms. However, it was not known whether mechanisms exist that convey transgenerational memory of a silencing “experience”, without silencing the gene permanently. Researchers have now found such a phenomenon in a unicellular organism.READ MORE