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TITLES and AUTHORS
The process of validating an assay for high-throughput screening (HTS) involves identifying sources of variability and developing procedures that minimize the variability at each step in the protocol. The goal is to produce a robust and reproducible assay with good metrics. In all good cell-based assays, this means coefficient of variation (CV) values of less than 10% and a signal window of fivefold or greater. HTS assays are usually evaluated using Z′ factor, which incorporates both standard deviation and signal window. A Z′ factor value of 0.5 or higher is acceptable for HTS. We used a standard HTS validation procedure in developing small interfering RNA (siRNA) screening technology at the HTS center at Southern Research. Initially, our assay performance was similar to published screens, with CV values greater than 10% and Z′ factor values of 0.51 ± 0.16 (average ± standard deviation). After optimizing the siRNA assay, we got CV values averaging 7.2% and a robust Z′ factor value of 0.78 ± 0.06 (average ± standard deviation). We present an overview of the problems encountered in developing this whole-genome siRNA screening program at Southern Research and how equipment optimization led to improved data quality.
The cytokine interleukin 13 (IL-13) is a major effector molecule for T-helper type 2 inflammation and is pathogenic in allergic diseases such as asthma. The effects of IL-13 are mediated via a pathway that is initiated by binding to a heterodimeric receptor consisting of IL-13Rα1 and IL-4Rα. Antibodies raised against IL-13 can block its inflammatory effects by interfering with binding to either of the two receptor polypeptides. Lebrikizumab is a monoclonal anti-IL-13 antibody that has shown clinical benefit in a phase II study for the treatment of moderate-to-severe uncontrolled asthma. Here we report the molecular structure of IL-13 in complex with the Fab from lebrikizumab by X-ray crystallography at 1.9 Å resolution. We show that lebrikizumab inhibits IL-13 signaling by binding to IL-13 with very high affinity and blocking IL-13 binding to IL-4Rα. In addition, we use site-directed mutations to identify the most important antibody contributors to binding. Our studies define key features of lebrikizumab binding and its mechanism of action that may contribute to its clinical effects.
Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is the key enzyme of the pentose phosphate pathway, converting glucose-6-phosphate to 6-phosphoglucono-δ-lactone with parallel reduction of NADP+. Several human diseases, including cancer, are associated with increased G6PD activity. To date, only a few G6PD inhibitors have been available. However, adverse side effects and high IC50 values hamper their use as therapeutics and basic research probes. In this study, we developed a high-throughput screening assay to identify novel human G6PD (hG6PD) inhibitors. Screening the LOPAC (Sigma-Aldrich; 1280 compounds), Spectrum (Microsource Discovery System; 1969 compounds), and DIVERSet (ChemBridge; 49 971 compounds) small-molecule compound collections revealed 139 compounds that presented ≥50% hG6PD inhibition. Hit compounds were further included in a secondary and orthogonal assay in order to identify false-positives and to determine IC50 values. The most potent hG6PD inhibitors presented IC50 values of <4 µM. Compared with the known hG6PD inhibitors dehydroepiandrosterone and 6-aminonicotinamide, the inhibitors identified in this study were 100- to 1000-fold more potent and showed different mechanisms of enzyme inhibition. One of the newly identified hG6PD inhibitors reduced viability of the mammary carcinoma cell line MCF10-AT1 (IC50 ~25 µM) more strongly than that of normal MCF10-A cells (IC50 >50 µM).
Early drug discovery laboratories often call for the precise weighing of 1- to 5-mg solids into 4- to 5-g glass vials. For the balance used in this study (Mettler Toledo XP205), the manufacturer rates its accuracy at ±0.01 mg over the working range of 1 mg to 220 g and its precision or repeatability at 0.015 mg for 10-g weights. The manufacturer ratings were confirmed using standard steel weights, but these calibrators do not well represent the weighing precision of drug compound. For example, when pre-taring a 4- to 5-g vial on the balance and then weighing 1- to 5-mg calibration weights, although no bias was observed, precision dropped appreciably. When measuring solid sample in the range of 1 to 5 mg, deviation of the measured weight from the actual (true) weight was even worse, in the range of ±20% to 50%. Balance settings and environmental factors exert a strong influence on weighing precision. Although most environmental factors, such as air draughts, temperature, vibrations, and levelness, can be optimized to the extent practical in laboratory settings, problems due to static electricity are often overlooked. By controlling static electricity, we demonstrate how we optimized the process to where measurements were within ±10% of actual weight when weighing solid sample in the range of 2 to 5 mg and ±20% when weighing 1 mg into a 4- to 5-g vial. Our weighing process and method to calculate actual weight are given in detail.
Microsomal prostaglandin E synthase-1 (mPGES-1) is the major enzyme catalyzing the isomerization of prostaglandin (PG) H2 to PGE2. Here we report the development of a robust and practical automated assay in a 384-well format for room temperature screening of mPGES-1 inhibitors with high precision and low reagent consumption. The assay should enable precise structure-activity relationship development. It uses acetonitrile as solvent for PGH2, FeCl2/citrate as stop reagent, and a short reaction time. Combined with high-precision liquid transfer and extensive mixing after addition of reactants, these properties let the assay reach Z' > 0.7 and high reproducibility of inhibitor IC50 values. Thorough investigation of the quality of mixing in all liquid transfer steps proved crucial for reaching high-precision performance.
Imaging mass spectrometry can generate three-dimensional volumes showing molecular distributions in an entire organ or animal through registration and stacking of serial tissue sections. Here, we review the current state of 3D imaging mass spectrometry as well as provide insights and perspectives on the process of generating 3D mass spectral data along with a discussion of the process necessary to generate a 3D image volume.
Sarcoidosis is a non-caseating granulomatous disease for which a role for infectious antigens continues to strengthen. Recent studies have reported molecular evidence of mycobacteria or propionibacteria. We assessed for immune responses against mycobacterial and propionibacterial antigens in sarcoidosis bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) using flow cytometry, and localized signals consistent with microbial antigens with sarcoidosis specimens, using matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI-IMS).
BAL cells from 27 sarcoidosis, 14 PPD- controls, and 9 subjects with nontuberculosis mycobacterial (NTM) infections were analyzed for production of IFN-γ after stimulation with mycobacterial ESAT-6 and Propionibacterium acnes proteins. To complement the immunological data, MALDI-IMS was performed to localize ESAT-6 and Propionibacterium acnes signals within sarcoidosis and control specimens.
CD4+ immunologic analysis for mycobacteria was positive in 17/27 sarcoidosis subjects, compared to 2/14 PPD- subjects, and 5/9 NTM subjects (p = 0.008 and p = 0.71 respectively, Fisher’s exact test). There was no significant difference for recognition of P. acnes, which occurred only in sarcoidosis subjects that also recognized ESAT-6. Similar results were also observed for the CD8+ immunologic analysis. MALDI-IMS localized signals consistent with ESAT-6 only within sites of granulomatous inflammation, whereas P. acnes signals were distributed throughout the specimen.
MALDI-IMS localizes signals consistent with ESAT-6 to sarcoidosis granulomas, whereas no specific localization of P. acnes signals is detected. Immune responses against both mycobacterial and P. acnes are present within sarcoidosis BAL, but only mycobacterial signals are distinct from disease controls. These immunologic and molecular investigations support further investigation of the microbial community within sarcoidosis granulomas.
Histone proteins are subject to several modifications, including phosphorylation, acetylation, methylation, sumoylation, and ubiquitination. These posttranslational modifications play critical roles in chromatin structure and gene transcription. Because of their involvement in the progression of a variety of diseases, histone modifications are attracting increased attention. We report herein a high-throughput DELFIA assay to quantify H3K27me3 in the prostate cancer cell line, PC3. Using a high binding MaxiSorp plate, we were able to eliminate the need for the capture antibody. We also developed an effective method, a combination of “freeze-thaw” and 0.2 N HCl, to extract histone proteins in PC3 cells cultured in a 384-well plate. To compensate for cell viability change, we normalized H3K27me3 signal to the total amount of H3 in each sample well. As a result, we show that the assay has a good dynamic range with a robust assay window. Using a methlytransferase inhibitor, DZNep, we show that the change of H3K27me3 signal is target specific. This method simplifies the logistics in screening and profiling and reduces the cost per well to an acceptable level for high-throughput screening. The findings presented here should be applicable to other assays involving binding and extraction of histone proteins.
A high-throughput RapidFire mass spectrometry assay is described for the JMJD2 family of Fe2+, O2, and α-ketoglutarate-dependent histone lysine demethylases. The assay employs a short amino acid peptide substrate, corresponding to the first 15 amino acid residues of histone H3, but mutated at two positions to increase assay sensitivity. The assay monitors the direct formation of the dimethylated-Lys9 product from the trimethylated-Lys9 peptide substrate. Monitoring the formation of the monomethylated and des-methylated peptide products is also possible. The assay was validated using known inhibitors of the histone lysine demethylases, including 2,4-pyridinedicarboxylic acid and an α-ketoglutarate analogue. With a sampling rate of 7 s per well, the RapidFire technology permitted the single-concentration screening of 101 226 compounds against JMJD2C in 10 days using two instruments, typically giving Z′ values of 0.75 to 0.85. Several compounds were identified of the 8-hydroxyquinoline chemotype, a known series of inhibitors of the Lys9-specific histone demethylases. The peptide also functions as a substrate for JMJD2A, JMJD2D, and JMJD2E, thus enabling the development of assays for all 3 enzymes to monitor progress in compound selectivity. The assay represents the first report of a RapidFire mass spectrometry assay for an epigenetics target.
Prosecution of positive allosteric modulator (PAM) targets demands a specialized assay toolset. Many GPCR or ion channel targets are adaptable to functional assays whereby PAM efficacy can be inferred from left or rightward shifts in the concentration-response curves of orthosteric agonist. The inherent emphasis on throughput and occasional paucity of radioligands for a diverse array of allosteric modulator targets yields a need for an enhanced throughput agonist potency shift assay. Here, we describe a process by which such an assay was automated with robust, reproducible in vitro pharmacology. In direct comparison with a manual CRC shift assay, the enhanced throughput automated platform described here delivered near identical rank orders (r2 = 0.75) at ~4-fold throughput/assay iteration. Correspondingly, average cycle time/plate decreased from 104 to 72 minutes. We also observed reductions in assay interference associated with compounds exhibiting ago-allosterism, which we attribute to preread compound incubation periods which are more precisely time-constrained under automation control. By leveraging automated laboratory technology, we have achieved meaningful throughput with no sacrifice of precision. Rather than to be target-class specific, the present process was specifically designed to serve as a platform template for a variety of cell-based functional allosteric modulation assays.