New Cav2 calcium channel gating modifiers with agonist activity and therapeutic potential to treat neuromuscular disease

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Voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) are critical regulators of many cellular functions, including the activity-dependent release of chemical neurotransmitter from nerve terminals. At nerve terminals, the Cav2 family of VGCCs are closely positioned with neurotransmitter-containing synaptic vesicles. The relationship between calcium ions and transmitter release is such that even subtle changes in calcium flux through VGCCs have a strong influence on the magnitude of transmitter released. Therefore, modulators of the calcium influx at nerve terminals have the potential to strongly affect transmitter release at synapses. We have previously developed novel Cav2-selective VGCC gating modifiers (notably GV-58) that slow the deactivation of VGCC current, increasing total calcium ion flux. Here, we describe ten new gating modifiers based on the GV-58 structure that extend our understanding of the structure-activity relationship for this class of molecules and extend the range of modulation of channel activities. In particular, we show that one of these new compounds (MF-06) was more efficacious than GV-58, another (KK-75) acts more quickly on VGCCs than GV-58, and a third (KK-20) has a mix of increased speed and efficacy. A subset of these new VGCC agonist gating modifiers can increase transmitter release during action potentials at neuromuscular synapses, and as such, show potential as therapeutics for diseases with a presynaptic deficit that results in neuromuscular weakness. Further, several of these new compounds can be useful tool compounds for the study of VGCC gating and function.Graphical abstractHighlightsGV-58 and novel analogs are first-in-class Cav2 voltage-gated calcium channel gating modifiers with therapeutic potential.These analogs contribute to our understanding of the structure-activity relationship of the GV-58 scaffold.Cav2 gating modifiers that act quickly, and are potent and efficacious, have therapeutic potential.GV-58 and novel analogs are also tools for the study of calcium channel gating and calcium-dependent pathways in cells.

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