Lending a helping hand, screening chemical libraries for compounds that enhance β-hexosaminidase A activity in GM2 gangliosidosis cells


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Abstract

Enzyme enhancement therapy is an emerging therapeutic approach that has the potential to treat many genetic diseases. Candidate diseases are those associated with a mutant protein that has difficulty folding and/or assembling into active oligomers in the endoplasmic reticulum. Many lysosomal storage diseases are candidates for enzyme enhancement therapy and have the additional advantage of requiring only 5–10% of normal enzyme levels to reduce and/or prevent substrate accumulation. Our long experience in working with the β-hexosaminidase (EC 3.2.1.52) isozymes system and its associated deficiencies (Tay-Sachs and Sandhoff disease) lead us to search for possible enzyme enhancement therapy-agents that could treat the chronic forms of these diseases which express 2–5% residual activity. Pharmacological chaperones are enzyme enhancement therapy-agents that are competitive inhibitors of the target enzyme. Each of the known β-hexosaminidase inhibitors (low μM IC50) increased mutant enzyme levels to ≥ 10% in chronic Tay-Sachs fibroblasts and also attenuated the thermo-denaturation of β-hexosaminidase. To expand the repertoire of pharmacological chaperones to more ‘drug-like’ compounds, we screened the Maybridge library of 50 000 compounds using a real-time assay for noncarbohydrate-based β-hexosaminidase inhibitors and identified several that functioned as pharmacological chaperones in patient cells. Two of these inhibitors had derivatives that had been tested in humans for other purposes. These observations lead us to screen the NINDS library of 1040 Food and Drug Administration approved compounds for pharmacological chaperones. Pyrimethamine, an antimalarial drug with well documented pharmacokinetics, was confirmed as a β-hexosaminidase pharmacological chaperone and compared favorably with our best carbohydrate-based pharmacological chaperone in patient cells with various mutant genotypes.

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