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  • New Publication: The Binding Mode of the Sonic Hedgehog Inhibitor Robotnikinin, a Combined Docking and QM/MM MD Study

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    Erroneous activation of the Hedgehog pathway has been linked to a great amount of cancerous diseases and therefore a large number of studies aiming at its inhibition have been carried out. One leverage point for novel therapeutic strategies targeting the proteins involved, is the prevention of complex formation between the extracellular signaling protein Sonic Hedgehog and the transmembrane protein Patched 1. In 2009 robotnikinin, a small molecule capable of binding to and inhibiting the activity of Sonic Hedgehog has been identified, however in the absence of X-ray structures of the Sonic Hedgehog-robotnikinin complex, the binding mode of this inhibitor remains unknown. In order to aid with the identification of novel Sonic Hedgehog inhibitors, the presented investigation elucidates the binding mode of robotnikinin by performing an extensive docking study, including subsequent molecular mechanical as well as quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical molecular dynamics simulations. The attained configurations enabled the identification of a number of key protein-ligand interactions, aiding complex formation and providing stabilizing contributions to the binding of the ligand. The predicted structure of the Sonic Hedgehog-robotnikinin complex is provided via a PDB file as Supplementary Material and can be used for further reference.

  • New successful cooperation with Thomas Hofer (Paper: The Binding Mode of the Sonic Hedgehog Inhibitor Robotnikinin, a Combined Docking and QM/MM MD Study)
     
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    The nuclear receptors peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) and its hetero-dimerization partner retinoid X receptor α (RXRα) are considered as drug targets in the treatment of diseases like the metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus type 2. Effort has been made to develop new agonists for PPARγ to obtain ligands with more favorable properties than currently used drugs. Magnolol was previously described as dual agonist of PPARγ and RXRα. Here we show the structure-based rational design of a linked magnolol dimer within the ligand binding domain of PPARγ and its synthesis. Furthermore, we evaluated its binding properties and functionality as a PPARγ agonist in vitro with the purified PPARγ ligand binding domain (LBD) and in a cell-based nuclear receptor transactivation model in HEK293 cells. We determined the synthesized magnolol dimer to bind with much higher affinity to the purified PPARγ ligand binding domain than magnolol (Ki values of 5.03 and 64.42 nM, respectively). Regarding their potency to transactivate a PPARγ-dependent luciferase gene both compounds were equally effective. This is likely due to the PPARγ specificity of the newly designed magnolol dimer and lack of RXRα-driven transactivation activity by this dimeric compound.

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