1. Molecular mechanisms of thalidomide and its derivatives
Takumi Ito, Hiroshi Handa Proc Jpn Acad Ser B Phys Biol Sci. 2020;96(6):189-203.doi: 10.2183/pjab.96.016.
Thalidomide, originally developed as a sedative drug, causes multiple defects due to severe teratogenicity, but it has been re-purposed for treating multiple myeloma, and derivatives such as lenalidomide and pomalidomide have been developed for treating blood cancers. Although the molecular mechanisms of thalidomide and its derivatives remained poorly understood until recently, we identified cereblon (CRBN), a primary direct target of thalidomide, using ferrite glycidyl methacrylate (FG) beads. CRBN is a ligand-dependent substrate receptor of the E3 ubiquitin ligase complex cullin-RING ligase 4 (CRL4CRBN). When a ligand such as thalidomide binds to CRBN, it recognizes various 'neosubstrates' depending on the shape of the ligand. CRL4CRBN binds many neosubstrates in the presence of various ligands. CRBN has been utilized in a novel protein knockdown technology named proteolysis targeting chimeras (PROTACs). Heterobifunctional molecules such as dBET1 are being developed to specifically degrade proteins of interest. Herein, we review recent advances in CRBN research.
2. DRUG DEVELOPMENT. Phthalimide conjugation as a strategy for in vivo target protein degradation
Georg E Winter, Dennis L Buckley, Joshiawa Paulk, Justin M Roberts, Amanda Souza, Sirano Dhe-Paganon, James E Bradner Science. 2015 Jun 19;348(6241):1376-81.doi: 10.1126/science.aab1433.Epub 2015 May 21.
The development of effective pharmacological inhibitors of multidomain scaffold proteins, notably transcription factors, is a particularly challenging problem. In part, this is because many small-molecule antagonists disrupt the activity of only one domain in the target protein. We devised a chemical strategy that promotes ligand-dependent target protein degradation using as an example the transcriptional coactivator BRD4, a protein critical for cancer cell growth and survival. We appended a competitive antagonist of BET bromodomains to a phthalimide moiety to hijack the cereblon E3 ubiquitin ligase complex. The resultant compound, dBET1, induced highly selective cereblon-dependent BET protein degradation in vitro and in vivo and delayed leukemia progression in mice. A second series of probes resulted in selective degradation of the cytosolic protein FKBP12. This chemical strategy for controlling target protein stability may have implications for therapeutically targeting previously intractable proteins.
3. Targeted BRD4 protein degradation by dBET1 ameliorates acute ischemic brain injury and improves functional outcomes associated with reduced neuroinflammation and oxidative stress and preservation of blood-brain barrier integrity
Lei Liu, Changjun Yang, Bianca P Lavayen, Ryland J Tishko, Jonathan Larochelle, Eduardo Candelario-Jalil J Neuroinflammation. 2022 Jun 27;19(1):168.doi: 10.1186/s12974-022-02533-8.
Bromodomain-containing protein 4 (BRD4), a member of the bromodomain and extra-terminal domain (BET) protein family, plays a crucial role in regulating inflammation and oxidative stress that are tightly related to stroke development and progression. Consequently, BRD4 blockade has attracted increasing interest for associated neurological diseases, including stroke. dBET1 is a novel and effective BRD4 degrader through the proteolysis-targeting chimera (PROTAC) strategy. We hypothesized that dBET1 protects against brain damage and neurological deficits in a transient focal ischemic stroke mouse model by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress and preserving the blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity. Post-ischemic dBET1 treatment starting 4 h after stroke onset significantly ameliorated severe neurological deficits and reduced infarct volume 48 h after stroke. dBET1 markedly reduced inflammation and oxidative stress after stroke, indicated by multiple pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines including IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, CCL2, CXCL1 and CXCL10, and oxidative damage markers 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) and gp91phox and antioxidative proteins SOD2 and GPx1. Meanwhile, stroke-induced BBB disruption, increased MMP-9 levels, neutrophil infiltration, and increased ICAM-1 were significantly attenuated by dBET1 treatment. Post-ischemic dBET1 administration also attenuated ischemia-induced reactive gliosis in microglia and astrocytes. Overall, these findings demonstrate that BRD4 degradation by dBET1 improves acute stroke outcomes, which is associated with reduced neuroinflammation and oxidative stress and preservation of BBB integrity. This study identifies a novel role of BET proteins in the mechanisms resulting in ischemic brain damage, which can be leveraged to develop novel therapies.