High-Throughput Assay for the Discovery of Small Molecule Inhibitors of microRNA

Summary

Principal Investigator: Alexander Deiters
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short, single-stranded RNAs of 21-23 nucleotides that are enzymatically processed from stem-loop precursors encoded within the human genome. They bind to untranslated regions in messenger RNA and induce a down-regulation of their transcription. It has been estimated that approximately 1000 microRNAs exist in humans, which control up to 30% of all genes. Thus, it is not surprising that the misregulation (either up- or down-regulation) of certain microRNAs has been linked to the development and prognosis of many types of cancer and other human diseases, including viral infections. The microRNA miR-122 and miR-155 have been recognized as important miRNAs involved in Hepatitis C Virus infection and cancer development. Although the connections between those miRNAs and human diseases have been made, very little is known about the biogenesis and regulation of individual microRNAs in healthy tissue, and what causes their misregulation in diseased tissue. Small molecule inhibitors of miRNA function will be unique pharmacological probes to close this knowledge gap. In contrast to the commonly used oligonucleotide antisense agents to inhibit miRNA function through hybridization and duplex formation, small molecule inhibitors can interfere with any step of the miRNA pathway. Thus, they can reveal important information about transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of particular miRNAs. Moreover, small molecule miRNA modulators have significant advantages over oligonucleotide antisense agents: they can be easily shared;they are more stable intracellularly;they are easily delivered into cells, animals, and humans;timing and location of delivery can be controlled;and they can be directly used on various cell lines and in different model organisms. We are proposing to develop a cell-based high-throughput assay using luminescence readouts for the discovery of small molecule inhibitors of miR-122 and miR-155. In addition to establishing the primary assay, a set of three secondary assays will be developed to validate and characterize the compound hits from the primary screen. These assays will exclude non-specific small molecule hits and deliver a more detailed picture of the activity and specificity of the identified compounds. Specifically, we will achieve this goal via the following aims: 'Specific Aim 1: Assay development for miR-122 and miR-155 small molecule inhibitors. This will be accomplished through the following sub-aims: (1) Build luciferase reporter constructs for the intracellular detection of miR-122 and miR-155 function. (2) Test the reporters in cells via transient transfection and determine the parameter Z'using antagomir antisense agents. 'Specific Aim 2: Assay configuration for high-throughput screening of miR-122 and miR-155 small molecule inhibitors. This will be accomplished through the following sub-aims: (1) Modify reporter constructs for the generation of stable cell lines. (2) Generate stable cell lines expressing miR-122 and miR-155 reporters. (3) Test the stable cell lines with antagomir antisense agents and determine the parameter Z'. (4) Conduct a pilot screen of 1364 compounds. (5) Establish secondary assays to eliminate hit compounds that are not miRNA-specific inhibitors and to validate hit compounds. Based on our expertise in developing the first small molecule inhibitor of miRNA function, specifically of miR- 21, and based on the substantial preliminary data presented, we do not expect any difficulties in achieving the two aims stated above. Our long term goal is to develop chemical tools to better understand the molecular mechanisms of miRNA biogenesis, of the functions of specific miRNAs involved in human disease, and to assess the global impact of miRNAs on various cellular processes and pathways. The small molecules that will be discovered from a high- throughput screen at the MLPCN are expected to have a broad impact on human health, due to the involvement of miRNAs in several human pathologies (including cancer and viral infection) and the increasing interest in the miRNA pathway as a drug target. The establishment of miRNAs as molecular drug targets together with novel small molecule inhibitors has the potential to provide a paradigm changing effect on the discovery of targeted chemotherapeutic agents. Furthermore, the developed inhibitors will be used as innovative and highly specific chemical tools for the study of the biogenesis and function of the targeted miRNAs. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The miRNAs miR-122 and miR-155 are involved in hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication and cancer manifestation. A high-throughput assay for small molecule inhibitors of these miRNAs together with a set of secondary assays will be developed. Discovered small molecules will be unique probes for the detailed investigation of the regulation and biogenesis of these disease-relevant miRNAs, and have the potential to validate both miRNAs as fundamentally novel therapeutic targets.
Funding Period: -------------------- - --------------------
more information: NIH RePORT

Top Publications

  1. pmc High-throughput luciferase reporter assay for small-molecule inhibitors of microRNA function
    Colleen M Connelly
    North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA
    J Biomol Screen 17:822-8. 2012

Detail Information

Publications1

  1. pmc High-throughput luciferase reporter assay for small-molecule inhibitors of microRNA function
    Colleen M Connelly
    North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA
    J Biomol Screen 17:822-8. 2012
    ..The described reporter assay will enable the high-throughput screening of small-molecule miR-122 inhibitors and can be readily extended to other miRNAs...