Invited Talk: A cost-effective approach to Protein Structure-guided Drug Discovery: Aided by Bioinformatics, Chemoinformatics and computational chemistry @ Sathyam Hall
Aug 13 @ 11:15 am – 11:40 am

kalKal 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.


Invited Talk: Pertubation of DNA topology in mycobacteria @ Acharya Hall
Aug 13 @ 11:50 am – 12:12 pm

NagarajaV. 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.

Delegate Talk: A Novel Versatile Human Cell Based In Vitro High Throughput Genotoxicity Screen @ Acharya Hall
Aug 13 @ 6:50 pm – 7:00 pm
Delegate Talk: A Novel Versatile Human Cell Based In Vitro High Throughput Genotoxicity Screen @ Acharya Hall | Vallikavu | Kerala | India

Sunilkumar Sukumaran, Ayyappan Nair, Madhuri Subbiah, Gunja Gupta, Lakshmi Rajakrishna, Pradeep Savanoor Raghavendra, Subbulakshmi Karthikeyan, Salini Krishnan Unni and Ganesh Sambasivam

Genotoxicity is defined as DNA damage that leads to gene mutations which can become tumorigenic. Genotoxicity testing is important to ensure drug safety and is mandatory prior to Phase I/II clinical trials of new drugs. The results from genetic toxicology studies help to identify hazardous drugs and environmental genotoxins. Currently, among others there are four tests recommended by regulatory authorities (Ames test-bacterial, chromosome aberrations; in vitro gene mutation-eukaryotic cells and in vivo test). These assays are laborious, time consuming, require large quantities of test compounds and limited by throughput challenges. The site and mechanism of genotoxicity are not revealed by these assays and data obtained from bacterial tests might not translate the same in mammals. To address these we have developed a novel, versatile, human cell based, high throughput, reporter based genotoxicity screen (Anthem’s Genotox screen). This screen is performed on genetically engineered human cell lines that express 3 reporter genes under transcriptional control of ‘early DNA damage sensors’ (p53, p21 and GADD153). These genes are involved in DNA repair, cell cycle arrest and/or apoptosis. p21 and GADD are also known to be induced in a p53 independent manner. p53 blocks G1/S transition of cell cycle while the p53 independent DNA damage block G2/M transition. Identification of the mechanism of genotoxicity helps in rational drug designing. Additionally, the platform can be used to screen other potential genotoxins from cosmetics, food and environment. Initial validation studies of the Genotox screen was performed with over 60 compounds chosen from a variety of chemical classes. The genotoxic potential of metabolites was tested using rat liver S9 fractions. The results demonstrated a sensitivity of 86.7–92.3% and a specificity of 70–78.6% when compared with currently available in vitro genotoxicity assays. This Genotox screen would prove to be an invaluable human cell based tool to weed out potential genotoxins in various industries.

Delegate Talk: Intrinsic modulation of cytokine response by mycobacteria @ Acharya Hall
Aug 14 @ 11:35 am – 11:45 am
Delegate Talk: Intrinsic modulation of cytokine response by mycobacteria @ Acharya Hall | Vallikavu | Kerala | India

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-κB 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.