Kal Ramnarayan, Ph.D.
Co-founder President & Chief Scientific Officer, Sapient Discovery, San Diego, CA, USA
A cost-effective approach to Protein Structure-guided Drug Discovery: Aided by Bioinformatics, Chemoinformatics and computational chemistry
With the mapping of the human genome completed almost a decade ago, efforts are still underway to understand the gene products (i.e., proteins) in the human biological and disease pathways. Deciphering such information is very important for the discovery and development of small molecule drugs as well as protein therapeutics for various human diseases for which no cure exists. As an example, with more than 500 members, the kinase family of protein targets continues to be an important and attractive class for drug discovery. While how many of the members in this family are actually druggable is still to be established, there are several ongoing efforts on this class of proteins across a broad spectrum of disease categories. Even though in general the protein structural topology might looks similar, there are issues with respect selectivity of identified small molecule inhibitors when, the lead molecule discovery is carried out at the ATP binding site. As an added complexity, allosteric modulators are needed for some of the members, but the actual site for such modulation on the protein target can not resolved with uncertainty. In this presentation we will describe a bioinformatics and computational based platform for small molecule discovery for protein targets that are involved in protein-protein interactions as well as targets like kinases and phosphatases. We will describe a computational approach in which we have used an informatics based platform with several hundred kinases to sort through in silico and identify inhibitors that are likely to be highly selective in the lead generation phase. We will discuss the implication of this approach on the drug discovery of the kinase and phosphatase classes in general and independent of the disease category.
V. Nagaraja Ph.D.
Professor, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, India
Perturbation of DNA topology in mycobacteria
To maintain the topological homeostasis of the genome in the cell, DNA topoisomerases catalyse DNA cleavage, strand passage and rejoining of the ends. Thus, although they are essential house- keeping enzymes, they are the most vulnerable targets; arrest of the reaction after the first trans-esterification step leads to breaks in DNA and cell death. Some of the successful antibacterial or anticancer drugs target the step ie arrest the reaction or stabilize the topo -DNA covalent complex. I will describe our efforts in this direction – to target DNA gyrase and also topoisomerase1 from mycobacteria. The latter, although essential, has no inhibitors described so far. The new inhibitors being characterized are also used to probe topoisomerase control of gene expression.
In the biological warfare between the organisms, a diverse set of molecules encoded by invading genomes target the above mentioned most vulnerable step of topoisomerase reaction, leading to the accumulation of double strand breaks. Bacteria, on their part appear to have developed defense strategies to protect the cells from genomic double strand breaks. I will describe a mechanism involving three distinct gyrase interacting proteins which inhibit the enzyme in vitro. However, in vivo all these topology modulators protect DNA gyrase from poisoning effect by sequestering the enzyme away from DNA.
Next, we have targeted a topology modulator protein, a nucleoid associated protein(NAP) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis to develop small molecule inhibitors by structure based design. Over expression of HU leads to alteration in the nucleoid architecture. The crystal structure of the N-terminal half of HU reveals a cleft that accommodates duplex DNA. Based on the structural feature, we have designed inhibitors which bind to the protein and affect its interaction with DNA, de-compact the nucleoid and inhibit cell growth. Chemical probing with the inhibitors reveal the importance of HU regulon in M.tuberculosis.
Sukhithasri V, Nisha N, Vivek V and Raja Biswas
The host innate immune system acts as the first line of defense against invading pathogens. During an infection, the host innate immune cells recognize unique conserved molecules on the pathogen known as Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns (PAMPs). This recognition of PAMPs helps the host mount an innate immune response leading to the production of cytokines (Akira et al. 2006). Peptidoglycan, one of the most conserved and essential component of the bacterial cell wall is one such PAMP. Peptidoglycan is known to have potent proinflammatory properties (Gust et al. 2007). Host recognize peptidoglycan using Nucleotide oligomerization domain proteins (NODs). This recognition of peptidoglycan activates the NODs and triggers downstream signaling leading to the nuclear translocation of NF-ÎºB and production of cytokines (McDonald et al. 2005). Pathogenic bacteria modify their peptidoglycan as a strategy to evade innate immune recognition, which helps it to establish infection in the host. These peptidoglycan modifications include O-acetylation and N-glycolylation of muramic acid and N-deacetylation of N-acetylglucosamine (Davis et al. 2011). Modification of mycobacterial peptidoglycan by N-glycolylation prevents the catalytic activity of lysozyme (Raymond et al. 2005). Additionally, mycobacterial peptidoglycan is modified by amidation for unknown reasons.
Here, we have investigated the role of amidated peptidoglycan in Mycobacterium sp in modulating the innate immune response. We isolated amidated peptidoglycan from Mycobacterium sp and non-amidated peptidoglycan from Escherichia coli. We made a comparative analysis of the cytokine response produced on stimulation of innate immune cells by peptidoglycan from E. Coli and Mycobacterium sp. Macrophages and whole blood were treated with peptidoglycan and the cytokines secreted into spent medium and plasma respectively were analyzed using ELISA. Our results show that peptidoglycan from Mycobacterium sp is less effective in stimulating innate immune cells to produce cytokines. This intrinsic modulation of the cytokine response suggests that mycobacteria modify their peptidoglycan by amidation to evade innate immune response.
Sudarslal S, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, School of Biotechnology, Amrita University
Electrospray ionization ion trap mass spectrometry for cyclic peptide characterization
There has been considerable interest in the isolation and structural characterization of bioactive peptides produced by bacteria and fungi. Most of the peptides are cyclic depsipeptides characterized by the presence of lactone linkages and β-hydroxy fatty acids. Occurrence of microheterogeneity is another remarkable property of these peptides. Even if tandem mass spectrometers are good analytical tools to structurally characterize peptides and proteins, sequence analysis of cyclic peptides is often ambiguous due to the random ring opening of the peptides and subsequent generation of a set of linear precursor ions with the same m/z. Here we report combined use of chemical derivatization and multistage fragmentation capability of ion trap mass spectrometers to determine primary sequences of a series of closely related cyclic peptides.
Ravindra Gudihal, Suresh Babu C V
Bioanalytical Characterization of Therapeutic Proteins
The characterization of therapeutic proteins such as monoclonal antibody (mAb) during different stages of manufacturing is crucial for timely and successful product release. Regulatory agencies require a variety of analytical technologies for comprehensive and efficient protein analysis. Electrophoresis-based techniques and liquid chromatography (LC) either standalone or coupled to mass spectrometry (MS) are at the forefront for the in-depth analysis of protein purity, isoforms, stability, aggregation, posttranslational modifications, PEGylation, etc. In this presentation, a combination of various chromatographic and electrophoretic techniques such as liquid-phase isoelectric focusing, microfluidic and capillary-based electrophoresis (CE), liquid chromatography (LC) and combinations of those with mass spectrometry techniques will be discussed. We present a workflow based approach to the analysis of therapeutic proteins. In successive steps critical parameters like purity, accurate mass, aggregation, peptide sequence, glycopeptide and glycan analysis are analyzed. In brief, the workflow involved proteolytic digestion of therapeutic protein for peptide mapping, N-Glycanase and chemical labeling reaction for glycan analysis, liquid-phase isoelectric focusing for enrichment of charge variants followed by a very detailed analysis using state of the art methods such as CE-MS and LC-MS. For the analysis of glycans, we use combinations of CE-MS and LC-MS to highlight the sweet spots of these techniques. CE-MS is found to be more useful in analysis of highly sialylated glycans (charged glycans) while nano LC-MS seems to be better adapted for analysis of neutral glycans. These two techniques can be used to get complementary data to profile all the glycans present in a given protein. In addition, microfluidic electrophoresis was used as a QC tool in initial screening for product purity, analysis of papain digestion fragments of mAb, protein PEGylation products, etc. The described workflow involves multiple platforms, provides an end to end solution for comprehensive protein characterization and aims at reducing the total product development time.