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Activation of Rho Family GTPases by Small Molecules

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-05-10, 00:00 authored by Charuta C. Palsuledesai, Zurab Surviladze, Anna Waller, T. Fabiola Miscioscia, Yuna Guo, Yang Wu, Jake Strouse, Elsa Romero, Virginia M. Salas, Ramona Curpan, Susan Young, Mark Carter, Terry Foutz, Zhanna Galochkina, Harold Ames, Mark K. Haynes, Bruce S. Edwards, Orazio Nicolotti, Li Luo, Oleg Ursu, Cristian G. Bologa, Tudor I. Oprea, Angela Wandinger-Ness, Larry A. Sklar
Ras and Ras-related small GTPases are key regulators of diverse cellular functions that impact cell growth, survival, motility, morphogenesis, and differentiation. They are important targets for studies of disease mechanisms as well as drug discovery. Here, we report the characterization of small molecule agonists of one or more of six Rho, Rab, and Ras family GTPases that were first identified through flow cytometry-based, multiplexed high-throughput screening of 200000 compounds. The activators were categorized into three distinct chemical families that are represented by three lead compounds having the highest activity. Virtual screening predicted additional compounds with potential GTPase activating properties. Secondary dose–response assays performed on compounds identified through these screens confirmed agonist activity of 43 compounds. While the lead and second most active small molecules acted as pan activators of multiple GTPase subfamilies, others showed partial selectivity for Ras and Rab proteins. The compounds did not stimulate nucleotide exchange by guanine nucleotide exchange factors and did not protect against GAP-stimulated GTP hydrolysis. The activating properties were caused by a reversible stabilization of the GTP-bound state and prolonged effector protein interactions. Notably, these compounds were active both in vitro and in cell-based assays, and small molecule-mediated changes in Rho GTPase activities were directly coupled to measurable changes in cytoskeletal rearrangements that dictate cell morphology.