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- Activation of Rac-1 and RhoA contributes to podocyte injury in chronic kidney disease (2013)
- Rho-family GTPases like RhoA and Rac-1 are potent regulators of cellular signaling that control gene expression, migration and inflammation. Activation of Rho-GTPases has been linked to podocyte dysfunction, a feature of chronic kidney diseases (CKD). We investigated the effect of Rac-1 and Rho kinase (ROCK) inhibition on progressive renal failure in mice and studied the underlying mechanisms in podocytes. SV129 mice were subjected to 5/6-nephrectomy which resulted in arterial hypertension and albuminuria. Subgroups of animals were treated with the Rac-1 inhibitor EHT1846, the ROCK inhibitor SAR407899 and the ACE inhibitor Ramipril. Only Ramipril reduced hypertension. In contrast, all inhibitors markedly attenuated albumin excretion as well as glomerular and tubulo-interstitial damage. The combination of SAR407899 and Ramipril was more effective in preventing albuminuria than Ramipril alone. To study the involved mechanisms, podocytes were cultured from SV129 mice and exposed to static stretch in the Flexcell device. This activated RhoA and Rac-1 and led via TGFβ to apoptosis and a switch of the cells into a more mesenchymal phenotype, as evident from loss of WT-1 and nephrin and induction of α-SMA and fibronectin expression. Rac-1 and ROCK inhibition as well as blockade of TGFβ dramatically attenuated all these responses. This suggests that Rac-1 and RhoA are mediators of podocyte dysfunction in CKD. Inhibition of Rho-GTPases may be a novel approach for the treatment of CKD.
- DOGS: reaction-driven de novo design of bioactive compounds (2012)
- We present a computational method for the reaction-based de novo design of drug-like molecules. The software DOGS (Design of Genuine Structures) features a ligand-based strategy for automated ‘in silico’ assembly of potentially novel bioactive compounds. The quality of the designed compounds is assessed by a graph kernel method measuring their similarity to known bioactive reference ligands in terms of structural and pharmacophoric features. We implemented a deterministic compound construction procedure that explicitly considers compound synthesizability, based on a compilation of 25'144 readily available synthetic building blocks and 58 established reaction principles. This enables the software to suggest a synthesis route for each designed compound. Two prospective case studies are presented together with details on the algorithm and its implementation. De novo designed ligand candidates for the human histamine H4 receptor and γ-secretase were synthesized as suggested by the software. The computational approach proved to be suitable for scaffold-hopping from known ligands to novel chemotypes, and for generating bioactive molecules with drug-like properties.
- Novel chalcone-based fluorescent human histamine H 3 receptor ligands as pharmacological tools (2012)
- Novel fluorescent chalcone-based ligands at human histamine H(3) receptors (hH(3)R) have been designed, synthesized, and characterized. Compounds described are non-imidazole analogs of ciproxifan with a tetralone motif. Tetralones as chemical precursors and related fluorescent chalcones exhibit affinities at hH(3)R in the same concentration range like the reference antagonist ciproxifan (hH(3)R pK(i) value of 7.2). Fluorescence characterization of our novel ligands shows emission maxima about 570 nm for yellow fluorescent chalcones and ≥600 nm for the red fluorescent derivatives. Interferences to cellular autofluorescence could be excluded. All synthesized chalcone compounds could be used to visualize hH(3)R proteins in stably transfected HEK-293 cells using confocal laser scanning fluorescence microscopy. These novel fluorescent ligands possess high potential to be used as pharmacological tools for hH(3)R visualization in different tissues.
- SQUIRRELnovo : de novo design of a PPARalpha agonist by bioisosteric replacement (2009)
- Shape complementarity is a compulsory condition for molecular recognition . In our 3D ligand-based virtual screening approach called SQUIRREL, we combine shape-based rigid body alignment  with fuzzy pharmacophore scoring . Retrospective validation studies demonstrate the superiority of methods which combine both shape and pharmacophore information on the family of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs). We demonstrate the real-life applicability of SQUIRREL by a prospective virtual screening study, where a potent PPARalpha agonist with an EC50 of 44 nM and 100-fold selectivity against PPARgamma has been identified. SQUIRREL molecular superposition is based on a graph-matching routine  and allows partial matching. We used this advantage for searching for bioisosteric replacement suggestions in a database of molecular fragments derived from a collection of drug-like compounds . The bioisosteric groups suggested by our tool SQURRELnovo, can be used for ligand-based de novo design by a human expert. Using the fibrate derivative GW590735  as query, we designed a novel lead structure by substitution of the acidic head group and hydrophobic tail. The synthesis and following testing in a cell-based reporter gene assay [7,8] revealed that the designed structure activates PPARalpha with an EC50 of 510 nM.
- Plasticity of histamine H3 receptor expression and binding in the vestibular nuclei after labyrinthectomy in rat (2004)
- Background: In rat, deafferentation of one labyrinth (unilateral labyrinthectomy) results in a characteristic syndrome of ocular and motor postural disorders (e.g., barrel rotation, circling behavior, and spontaneous nystagmus). Behavioral recovery (e.g., diminished symptoms), encompassing 1 week after unilateral labyrinthectomy, has been termed vestibular compensation. Evidence suggesting that the histamine H3 receptor plays a key role in vestibular compensation comes from studies indicating that betahistine, a histamine-like drug that acts as both a partial histamine H1 receptor agonist and an H3 receptor antagonist, can accelerate the process of vestibular compensation. Results: Expression levels for histamine H3 receptor (total) as well as three isoforms which display variable lengths of the third intracellular loop of the receptor were analyzed using in situ hybridization on brain sections containing the rat medial vestibular nucleus after unilateral labyrinthectomy. We compared these expression levels to H3 receptor binding densities. Total H3 receptor mRNA levels (detected by oligo probe H3X) as well as mRNA levels of the three receptor isoforms studied (detected by oligo probes H3A, H3B, and H3C) showed a pattern of increase, which was bilaterally significant at 24 h post-lesion for both H3X and H3C, followed by significant bilateral decreases in medial vestibular nuclei occurring 48 h (H3X and H3B) and 1 week post-lesion (H3A, H3B, and H3C). Expression levels of H3B was an exception to the forementioned pattern with significant decreases already detected at 24 h post-lesion. Coinciding with the decreasing trends in H3 receptor mRNA levels was an observed increase in H3 receptor binding densities occurring in the ipsilateral medial vestibular nuclei 48 h post-lesion. Conclusion: Progressive recovery of the resting discharge of the deafferentated medial vestibular nuclei neurons results in functional restoration of the static postural and occulomotor deficits, usually occurring within a time frame of 48 hours in rats. Our data suggests that the H3 receptor may be an essential part of pre-synaptic mechanisms required for reestablishing resting activities 48 h after unilateral labyrinthectomy.