1. In vivo knockdown of pathogenic proteins via specific and nongenetic inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP)-dependent protein erasers (SNIPERs).
Ohoka, N., Okuhira, K., Ito, M., Nagai, K., Shibata, N., Hattori, T., Ujikawa, O., Shimokawa, K., Sano, O., Koyama, R. and Fujita, H., 2017. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 292(11), pp.4556-4570.
Many diseases, especially cancers, result from aberrant or overexpression of pathogenic proteins. Specific inhibitors against these proteins have shown remarkable therapeutic effects, but these are limited mainly to enzymes. An alternative approach that may have utility in drug development relies on selective degradation of pathogenic proteins via small chimeric molecules linking an E3 ubiquitin ligase to the targeted protein for proteasomal degradation. To this end, we recently developed a protein knockdown system based on hybrid small molecule SNIPERs (Specific and Nongenetic IAP-dependent Protein Erasers) that recruit inhibitor of the apoptosis protein (IAP) ubiquitin ligases to specifically degrade targeted proteins. Here, we extend our previous study to show a proof of concept of the SNIPER technology in vivo. By incorporating a high affinity IAP ligand, we developed a novel SNIPER against estrogen receptor α (ERα), SNIPER(ER)-87, that has a potent protein knockdown activity. The SNIPER(ER) reduced ERα levels in tumor xenografts and suppressed the growth of ERα-positive breast tumors in mice. Mechanistically, it preferentially recruits X-linked IAP (XIAP) rather than cellular IAP1, to degrade ERα via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. With this IAP ligand, potent SNIPERs against other pathogenic proteins, BCR-ABL, bromodomain-containing protein 4 (BRD4), and phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE4) could also be developed. These results indicate that forced ubiquitylation by SNIPERs is a useful method to achieve efficient protein knockdown with potential therapeutic activities and could also be applied to study the role of ubiquitylation in many cellular processes.
2. Derivatization of inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) ligands yields improved inducers of estrogen receptor α degradation.
Ohoka, N., Morita, Y., Nagai, K., Shimokawa, K., Ujikawa, O., Fujimori, I., Ito, M., Hayase, Y., Okuhira, K., Shibata, N. and Hattori, T., 2018. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 293(18), pp.6776-6790.
Aberrant expression of proteins often underlies many diseases, including cancer. A recently developed approach in drug development is small molecule-mediated, selective degradation of dysregulated proteins. We have devised a protein-knockdown system that utilizes chimeric molecules termed specific and nongenetic IAP-dependent protein erasers (SNIPERs) to induce ubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation of various target proteins. SNIPER(ER)-87 consists of an inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) ligand LCL161 derivative that is conjugated to the estrogen receptor α (ERα) ligand 4-hydroxytamoxifen by a PEG linker, and we have previously reported that this SNIPER efficiently degrades the ERα protein. Here, we report that derivatization of the IAP ligand module yields SNIPER(ER)s with superior protein-knockdown activity. These improved SNIPER(ER)s exhibited higher binding affinities to IAPs and induced more potent degradation of ERα than does SNIPER(ER)-87. Further, they induced simultaneous degradation of cellular inhibitor of apoptosis protein 1 (cIAP1) and delayed degradation of X-linked IAP (XIAP). Notably, these reengineered SNIPER(ER)s efficiently induced apoptosis in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells that require IAPs for continued cellular survival. We found that one of these molecules, SNIPER(ER)-110, inhibits the growth of MCF-7 tumor xenografts in mice more potently than the previously characterized SNIPER(ER)-87. Mechanistic analysis revealed that our novel SNIPER(ER)s preferentially recruit XIAP, rather than cIAP1, to degrade ERα. Our results suggest that derivatized IAP ligands could facilitate further development of SNIPERs with potent protein-knockdown and cytocidal activities against cancer cells requiring IAPs for survival.