Small Molecule Inhibitors of the PCSK9·LDLR Interaction
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The protein-protein interaction between proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) and low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) is a relatively new, and extremely important, validated therapeutic target for treatment and prevention of heart disease. Experts in the area agree that the first small molecules to disrupt PCSK9·LDLR would represent a milestone in this field, yet few credible leads have been reported. This paper describes how side-chain orientations in preferred conformations of carefully designed chemotypes were compared with LDLR side chains at the PCSK9·LDLR interface to find molecules that would mimic interface regions of LDLR. This approach is an example of the procedure called EKO (Exploring Key Orientations). The guiding hypothesis on which EKO is based is that good matches indicate the chemotypes bearing the same side chains as the protein at the sites of overlay have the potential to disrupt the parent protein-protein interaction. In the event, the EKO procedure and one round of combinatorial fragment-based virtual docking led to the discovery of seven compounds that bound PCSK9 (SPR and ELISA) and had a favorable outcome in a cellular assay (hepatocyte uptake of fluorescently labeled low-density lipoprotein particles) and increased the expression LDLR on hepatocytes in culture. Three promising hit compounds in this series had dissociation constants for PCSK9 binding in the 20-40 μM range, and one of these was modified with a photoaffinity label and shown to form a covalent conjugate with PCSK9 on photolysis.
author list (cited authors)
Taechalertpaisarn, J., Zhao, B., Liang, X., & Burgess, K.