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Deciphering the Cellular Targets of Bioactive Compounds Using a Chloroalkane Capture Tag

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journal contribution
posted on 17.12.2015, 10:17 by Rachel Friedman Ohana, Thomas A. Kirkland, Carolyn C. Woodroofe, Sergiy Levin, H. Tetsuo Uyeda, Paul Otto, Robin Hurst, Matthew B. Robers, Kris Zimmerman, Lance P. Encell, Keith V. Wood
Phenotypic screening of compound libraries is a significant trend in drug discovery, yet success can be hindered by difficulties in identifying the underlying cellular targets. Current approaches rely on tethering bioactive compounds to a capture tag or surface to allow selective enrichment of interacting proteins for subsequent identification by mass spectrometry. Such methods are often constrained by ineffective capture of low affinity and low abundance targets. In addition, these methods are often not compatible with living cells and therefore cannot be used to verify the pharmacological activity of the tethered compounds. We have developed a novel chloroalkane capture tag that minimally affects compound potency in cultured cells, allowing binding interactions with the targets to occur under conditions relevant to the desired cellular phenotype. Subsequent isolation of the interacting targets is achieved through rapid lysis and capture onto immobilized HaloTag protein. Exchanging the chloroalkane tag for a fluorophore, the putative targets identified by mass spectrometry can be verified for direct binding to the compound through resonance energy transfer. Using the interaction between histone deacetylases (HDACs) and the inhibitor, Vorinostat (SAHA), as a model system, we were able to identify and verify all the known HDAC targets of SAHA as well as two previously undescribed targets, ADO and CPPED1. The discovery of ADO as a target may provide mechanistic insight into a reported connection between SAHA and Huntington’s disease.

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