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Rational Design of Selective Small-Molecule Inhibitors for β‑Catenin/B-Cell Lymphoma 9 Protein–Protein Interactions

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journal contribution
posted on 30.09.2015, 00:00 by Logan R. Hoggard, Yongqiang Zhang, Min Zhang, Vanja Panic, John A. Wisniewski, Haitao Ji
Selective inhibition of α-helix-mediated protein–protein interactions (PPIs) with small organic molecules provides great potential for the discovery of chemical probes and therapeutic agents. Protein Data Bank data mining using the HippDB database indicated that (1) the side chains of hydrophobic projecting hot spots at positions i, i + 3, and i + 7 of an α-helix had few orientations when interacting with the second protein and (2) the hot spot pockets of PPI complexes had different sizes, shapes, and chemical groups when interacting with the same hydrophobic projecting hot spots of α-helix. On the basis of these observations, a small organic molecule, 4′-fluoro-N-phenyl-[1,1′-biphenyl]-3-carboxamide, was designed as a generic scaffold that itself directly mimics the binding mode of the side chains of hydrophobic projecting hot spots at positions i, i + 3, and i + 7 of an α-helix. Convenient decoration of this generic scaffold led to the selective disruption of α-helix-mediated PPIs. A series of small-molecule inhibitors selective for β-catenin/B-cell lymphoma 9 (BCL9) over β-catenin/cadherin PPIs was designed and synthesized. The binding mode of new inhibitors was characterized by site-directed mutagenesis and structure–activity relationship studies. This new class of inhibitors can selectively disrupt β-catenin/BCL9 over β-catenin/cadherin PPIs, suppress the transactivation of canonical Wnt signaling, downregulate the expression of Wnt target genes, and inhibit the growth of Wnt/β-catenin-dependent cancer cells.