Priya Kunapuli

Merck, Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, United States

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Publications (18)50.92 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The phosphoinositide 3-kinase/AKT signaling pathway plays a key role in cancer cell growth, survival, and angiogenesis. Phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1 (PDK1) acts at a focal point in this pathway immediately downstream of phosphoinositide 3-kinase and PTEN, where it phosphorylates numerous AGC kinases. The PDK1 kinase domain has at least three ligand-binding sites: the ATP-binding pocket, the peptide substrate-binding site, and a groove in the N-terminal lobe that binds the C-terminal hydrophobic motif of its kinase substrates. Based on the unique PDK1 substrate recognition system, ultrahigh throughput TR-FRET and Alphascreen screening assays were developed using a biotinylated version of the PDK1-tide substrate containing the activation loop of AKT fused to a pseudo-activated hydrophobic motif peptide. Using full-length PDK1, K(m) values were determined as 5.6 mum for ATP and 40 nm for the fusion peptide, revealing 50-fold higher affinity compared with the classical AKT(Thr-308)-tide. Kinetic and biophysical studies confirmed the PDK1 catalytic mechanism as a rapid equilibrium random bireactant reaction. Following an ultrahigh throughput screen of a large library, 2,000 compounds were selected from the reconfirmed hits by computational analysis with a focus on novel scaffolds. ATP-competitive hits were deconvoluted by dose-response studies at 1x and 10x K(m) concentrations of ATP, and specificity of binding was assessed in thermal shift assay. Inhibition studies using fusion PDK1-tide1 substrate versus AKT(Thr-308)-tide and kinase selectivity profiling revealed a novel selective alkaloid scaffold that evidently binds to the PDK1-interacting fragment pocket. Molecular modeling suggests a structural paradigm for the design of inhibitory versus activating allosteric ligands of PDK1.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 04/2010; 285(24):18838-46. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The use of ultrahigh throughput screens (uHTS) is a well-accepted mechanism to identify agonists and antagonists of target receptors. We used the Path Hunter [Path Hunter technology is a registered trademark of DiscoveRx Corporation.] technology from DiscoveRx to screen the entire Merck compound library for glucocorticoid receptor (GR) agonists in a 2.2-microl total reaction volume assayed in a 3456-well plate format. This single addition, homogenous assay which utilizes the principle of enzyme fragment complementation (EFC) to detect nuclear translocation of GR, an initial step of receptor activation, was used to successfully screen a large library of small molecules as indicated by an average signal to background ratio of approximately 4-fold and an average Z-factor value of 0.45. Hits from the HTS campaign were studied in a cytokine secretion assay in primary human monocytes to gain functional information regarding these compounds in a phenotypic and physiologically relevant setting. Our data indicate that using the PathHunter assay, we successfully identified compounds that showed agonism for the GR receptor in primary human monocytes and due to their performance in a physiologically relevant model they likely will have a better chance to evoke clinical efficacy.
    Analytical Biochemistry 12/2008; 385(2):286-92. · 2.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: RNA interference (RNAi) is a modality in which small double-stranded RNA molecules (siRNAs) designed to lead to the degradation of specific mRNAs are introduced into cells or organisms. siRNA libraries have been developed in which siRNAs targeting virtually every gene in the human genome are designed, synthesized and are presented for introduction into cells by transfection in a microtiter plate array. These siRNAs can then be transfected into cells using high-throughput screening (HTS) methodologies. The goal of RNAi HTS is to identify a set of siRNAs that inhibit or activate defined cellular phenotypes. The commonly used analysis methods including median +/- kMAD have issues about error rates in multiple hypothesis testing and plate-wise versus experiment-wise analysis. We propose a methodology based on a Bayesian framework to address these issues. Our approach allows for sharing of information across plates in a plate-wise analysis, which obviates the need for choosing either a plate-wise or experimental-wise analysis. The proposed approach incorporates information from reliable controls to achieve a higher power and a balance between the contribution from the samples and control wells. Our approach provides false discovery rate (FDR) control to address multiple testing issues and it is robust to outliers.
    Nucleic Acids Research 08/2008; 36(14):4667-79. · 8.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Members of the superfamily of seven transmembrane receptors, known as G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), are important targets for many therapeutic areas in drug discovery. A homogeneous guanosine 5'-O-(3-[(35)S]thio)triphosphate ([(35)S]GTPgammaS) scintillation proximity assay (SPA) binding assay targeting a Galphai-coupled GPCR recombinantly expressed in membranes of Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells was developed and miniaturized into 1,536-well plate format. The primary ultra-high-throughput screen of the entire compound collection was accomplished on the Kalypsys (San Diego, CA) robotic platform at a concentration of 8 muM using the 1,536-well [(35)S]GTPgammaS SPA binding functional assay. The signal-to-noise ratio of the primary screen was approximately 2.1-fold, and the plate coefficient of variation for the compound field was approximately 11%. The hit rate from the primary screen for receptor agonists at >35% activity was approximately 0.3%. Primary hits were cherry-picked, confirmed in triplicate, counterscreened against untransfected CHO cell membranes, and further analyzed in a cyclic AMP functional assay, resulting in 34 leads for optimization.
    Assay and Drug Development Technologies 07/2008; 6(3):327-37. · 1.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: RNA interference (RNAi) not only plays an important role in drug discovery but can also be developed directly into drugs. RNAi high-throughput screening (HTS) biotechnology allows us to conduct genome-wide RNAi research. A central challenge in genome-wide RNAi research is to integrate both experimental and computational approaches to obtain high quality RNAi HTS assays. Based on our daily practice in RNAi HTS experiments, we propose the implementation of 3 experimental and analytic processes to improve the quality of data from RNAi HTS biotechnology: (1) select effective biological controls; (2) adopt appropriate plate designs to display and/or adjust for systematic errors of measurement; and (3) use effective analytic metrics to assess data quality. The applications in 5 real RNAi HTS experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of integrating these processes to improve data quality. Due to the effectiveness in improving data quality in RNAi HTS experiments, the methods and guidelines contained in the 3 experimental and analytic processes are likely to have broad utility in genome-wide RNAi research.
    Journal of Biomolecular Screening 07/2008; 13(5):378-89. · 2.21 Impact Factor
  • Assay and Drug Development Technologies 06/2008; 6(3):327-337. · 1.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: 3',5'-Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) is a common intracellular second messenger that enables cells to respond to external stimuli. Measurement of intracellular cAMP concentrations is thus widely used for studying guanosine triphosphate binding protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), which make up a large class of pharmaceutical drug targets. Although several assay technologies exist to measure cAMP, most are not suitable for ultra-high-throughput screening (uHTS), as is often required for screening large (greater than 1 million) chemical libraries for the identification of suitable leads for drug development. Here we report that the enzyme fragment complementation assay, a homogeneous gain of signal assay based on complementation of two fragments of a beta-galactosidase enzyme, is compatible with uHTS requirements of a 2.2-microl total assay volume in 3,456-well plate format. We describe the miniaturization of this assay into 3,456-well plate format exhibiting comparable sensitivity and plate statistics to those of a 384-well assay and the application of this assay in uHTS for the identification of antagonists of a Gi-coupled receptor.
    Assay and Drug Development Technologies 03/2007; 5(1):117-25. · 1.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: RNA interference technology allows the systematic genetic analysis of the molecular alterations in cancer cells and how these alterations affect response to therapies. Here we used small interfering RNA (siRNA) screens to identify genes that enhance the cytotoxicity (enhancers) of established anticancer chemotherapeutics. Hits identified in drug enhancer screens of cisplatin, gemcitabine, and paclitaxel were largely unique to the drug being tested and could be linked to the drug's mechanism of action. Hits identified by screening of a genome-scale siRNA library for cisplatin enhancers in TP53-deficient HeLa cells were significantly enriched for genes with annotated functions in DNA damage repair as well as poorly characterized genes likely having novel functions in this process. We followed up on a subset of the hits from the cisplatin enhancer screen and validated a number of enhancers whose products interact with BRCA1 and/or BRCA2. TP53(+/-) matched-pair cell lines were used to determine if knockdown of BRCA1, BRCA2, or validated hits that associate with BRCA1 and BRCA2 selectively enhances cisplatin cytotoxicity in TP53-deficient cells. Silencing of BRCA1, BRCA2, or BRCA1/2-associated genes enhanced cisplatin cytotoxicity approximately 4- to 7-fold more in TP53-deficient cells than in matched TP53 wild-type cells. Thus, tumor cells having disruptions in BRCA1/2 network genes and TP53 together are more sensitive to cisplatin than cells with either disruption alone.
    Molecular and Cellular Biology 01/2007; 26(24):9377-86. · 5.04 Impact Factor
  • Assay and Drug Development Technologies - ASSAY DRUG DEV TECHNOL. 01/2007; 5(1):117-126.
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    ABSTRACT: High-throughput screening of the Merck sample collection identified benzodiazepinone tetralin-spirohydantoin 1 as a CGRP receptor antagonist with micromolar activity. Comparing the structure of 1 with those of earlier peptide-based antagonists such as BIBN 4096 BS, a key hydrogen bond donor-acceptor pharmacophore was hypothesized. Subsequent structure activity studies supported this hypothesis and led to benzodiazepinone piperidinyldihydroquinazolinone 7, CGRP receptor K(i)=44nM and IC(50)=38nM. Compound 7 was orally bioavailabile in rats and is a lead in the development of orally bioavailable CGRP antagonists for the treatment of migraine.
    Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters 06/2006; 16(10):2595-8. · 2.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The recently identified mas-related-gene (MRG) family of receptors, located primarily in sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglion, has been implicated in the perception of pain. Thus, antagonists of this class of receptors have been postulated to be useful analgesics. Toward this end, we developed a cell-based beta-lactamase (BLA) reporter gene assay to identify small molecule antagonists of the human MRG-X1 receptor from a library of compounds. Single-cell clones expressing functional receptors were selected using the BLA reporter gene technology. The EC50 for the MRG agonist peptide, BAM15, appeared to be comparable between the BLA assay and the intracellular Ca2+ transient assays in these cells. Ultra high-throughput screening of approximately 1 million compounds in a 1.8-microl cell-based BLA reporter gene assay was conducted in a 3456-well plate format. Compounds exhibiting potential antagonist profile in the BLA assay were confirmed in the second messenger Ca2+ transient assay. A cell-based receptor trafficking assay was used to further validate the mechanism of action of these compounds. Several classes of compounds, particularly the 2,3-disubstituted azabicyclo-octanes, appear to be relatively potent antagonists at the human MRG-X1 receptors, as confirmed by the receptor trafficking assay and radioligand binding studies. Furthermore, the structure-activity relationship reveals that within this class of compounds, the diphenylmethyl moiety is constant at the 2-substituent, whereas the 3-substituent is directly correlated with the antagonist activity of the compound.
    Analytical Biochemistry 05/2006; 351(1):50-61. · 2.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: RNA interference (RNAi) high-throughput screening (HTS) experiments carried out using large (>5000 short interfering [si]RNA) libraries generate a huge amount of data. In order to use these data to identify the most effective siRNAs tested, it is critical to adopt and develop appropriate statistical methods. To address the questions in hit selection of RNAi HTS, we proposed a quartile-based method which is robust to outliers, true hits and nonsymmetrical data. We compared it with the more traditional tests, mean +/- k standard deviation (SD) and median +/- 3 median of absolute deviation (MAD). The results suggested that the quartile-based method selected more hits than mean +/- k SD under the same preset error rate. The number of hits selected by median +/- k MAD was close to that by the quartile-based method. Further analysis suggested that the quartile-based method had the greatest power in detecting true hits, especially weak or moderate true hits. Our investigation also suggested that platewise analysis (determining effective siRNAs on a plate-by-plate basis) can adjust for systematic errors in different plates, while an experimentwise analysis, in which effective siRNAs are identified in an analysis of the entire experiment, cannot. However, experimentwise analysis may detect a cluster of true positive hits placed together in one or several plates, while platewise analysis may not. To display hit selection results, we designed a specific figure called a plate-well series plot. We thus suggest the following strategy for hit selection in RNAi HTS experiments. First, choose the quartile-based method, or median +/- k MAD, for identifying effective siRNAs. Second, perform the chosen method experimentwise on transformed/normalized data, such as percentage inhibition, to check the possibility of hit clusters. If a cluster of selected hits are observed, repeat the analysis based on untransformed data to determine whether the cluster is due to an artifact in the data. If no clusters of hits are observed, select hits by performing platewise analysis on transformed data. Third, adopt the plate-well series plot to visualize both the data and the hit selection results, as well as to check for artifacts.
    Pharmacogenomics 04/2006; 7(3):299-309. · 3.86 Impact Factor
  • Seungtaek Lee, Bonnie Howell, Priya Kunapuli
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    ABSTRACT: There are a number of assays currently available to study G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), including ligand binding and functional assays. The latter category, albeit more complex, offers some obvious advantages over traditional ligand-binding assays. Functional cell-based assays typically include second messenger and reporter gene assays, which depend directly or indirectly on the cellular signaling cascade initiated upon receptor activation, respectively. More recently, cell imaging assays monitoring receptor trafficking are becoming increasingly popular. These assays, described in greater detail in this chapter, are independent of receptor signaling and are thus ideally suited for orphan receptors. In addition, these assays provide a valuable measure of receptor desensitization, an important feature for the use of GPCR agonists as potential therapeutic agents. The most popular GPCR imaging assays are based on the principles of receptor desensitization and internalization monitored directly or indirectly by green fluorescent protein.
    Methods in Enzymology 02/2006; 414:79-98. · 2.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cell-based functional assays are becoming popular in many HTS laboratories because of recent advances in detection and automation technologies. However, the supply of large amounts of live cells with consistent cellular response for day-to-day screening operations over several days/weeks is a tremendous challenge. The high cost of cell culture, labor-intensive nature of the work, and inherent variability in cellular responses from time to time tend to be prohibitive for extensive applications of cell-based assays in HTS. We therefore tested division-arrested cells that were prepared in a single batch and frozen at -80 degrees C before use in several cell-based assays and in a robotic screening campaign. Chinese hamster ovary cells expressing a Gq-coupled receptor were analyzed for the agonist-induced intracellular Ca2+ response measured on a fluorescent imaging plate reader. In this case, the division-arrested cells showed consistent agonist-induced intracellular Ca2+ concentration response as reflected by signal-to-basal ratio and EC50 even 48 h after cell plating. In comparison, the responses from untreated frozen cells and fresh cells declined significantly approximately 30 h after cell plating. In other cell-based assays tested (cyclic AMP assay, reporter gene beta-lactamase assay, and ion-channel assay), the division-arrested cells performed as well as frozen, or fresh cells. We thus conclude that the use of alternate strategies such as frozen cells or division-arrested cells may alleviate the need for several batches of cell plating each day during HTS while maintaining the desired robotic throughput and assay quality.
    Assay and Drug Development Technologies 03/2005; 3(1):17-26. · 1.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Compound A (N-[2-[4-(4,5-dihydro-1H-imidazol-2-yl)phenyl]ethyl]-2-[(2R)-1-(2-napthylsulfonyl)-3-oxo-1,2,3,4-tetrahydroquinoxalin-2-yl]acetamide) is a member of a new class of aryl sulfonamide dihydroquinoxalinone bradykinin B1 receptor antagonists that should be useful pharmacological tools. Here we report on some of the pharmacological properties of compound A as well as the characterization of [35S]compound A as the first nonpeptide bradykinin B1 receptor radioligand. Compound A inhibited tritiated peptide ligand binding to the cloned human, rabbit, dog, and rat bradykinin B1 receptors expressed in CHO cells with Ki values of 0.016, 0.050, 0.56, and 29 nM, respectively. It was inactive at 10 microM in binding assays with the cloned human bradykinin B2 receptor. In functional antagonist assays with the cloned bradykinin B1 receptors, compound A inhibited agonist-induced signaling with activities consistent with the competition binding results, but had no antagonist activity at the bradykinin B2 receptor. Compound A was also found to be a potent antagonist in a rabbit aorta tissue bath preparation and to effectively block des-Arg9 bradykinin depressor responses in lipopolysaccharide-treated rabbit following intravenous administration. The binding of [35S]compound A was evaluated with the cloned bradykinin B1 receptors. In assays with human, rabbit, and dog receptors, [35S]compound A labeled a single site with Kd values of 0.012, 0.064, and 0.37 nM, respectively, and with binding site densities equivalent to those obtained using the conventional tritiated peptide ligands. Binding assays with the cloned rat bradykinin B1 receptor were not successful, presumably due to the low affinity of the ligand for this species receptor. There was no specific binding of the ligand detected in CHO cells expressing the human bradykinin B2 receptor. In assays with the cloned human bradykinin B1 receptor, the pharmacologies of the binding of [35S]compound A and [3H][Leu9]des-Arg10-kallidin were the same. The high signal-to-noise ratio obtained with [35S]compound A will allow this ligand to be a very useful tool for future investigations of the bradykinin B1 receptor.
    European Journal of Pharmacology 10/2004; 499(1-2):77-84. · 2.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cell-based beta-lactamase reporter gene assays designed to measure the functional responses of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) were miniaturized to less than 2 microL total assay volume in a 3456-well microplate. Studies were done to evaluate both receptor agonists and antagonists. The pharmacology of agonists and antagonists for target GPCRs originally developed in a 96-well format was recapitulated in a 3456-well microplate format without compromising data quality or EC(50)/IC(50) precision. These assays were employed in high-throughput screening campaigns, allowing the testing of more than 150,000 compounds in 8 h. The instrumentation used and practical aspects of the assay development are discussed.
    Journal of Biomolecular Screening 05/2004; 9(3):186-95. · 2.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Guanosine triphosphate binding protein (G protein)-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are a large class of pharmaceutical drug targets. With the increasing popularity of functional assays for high throughput screening, there arises an increasing need for robust second messenger assays that reflect GPCR activation and are readily amenable for miniaturization. GPCRs that upon agonist stimulation modulate adenylyl cyclase activity, and, consequently, cellular cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) levels, via the G protein Gs or Gi, form a subset of therapeutic targets. While there are several cAMP assays currently available, most are not scalable for miniaturization into the 1536-well format employed for automated high throughput screening of large chemical libraries. Here, we describe a cAMP assay based on the enzyme fragmentation complementation (EFC) of beta-galactosidase. In this assay, recombinant cells expressing Gs- or Gi-coupled receptors exhibit robust and reproducible pharmacology for agonists and antagonists, as measured by cAMP levels. Furthermore, the EFC cAMP assay offers sufficient sensitivity to be used with cells expressing endogenous GPCRs. We demonstrate the miniaturization of this assay into a 1536-well format with comparable sensitivity and plate statistics to those of the 384-well assay for both Gs- and Gi-coupled receptors, and its suitability for miniaturized high throughput screening.
    Assay and Drug Development Technologies 03/2004; 2(1):39-49. · 1.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are involved in a large variety of physiological disorders, and are thus important pharmaceutical drug targets. Here, we describe the development and characterization of a beta-lactamase reporter gene assay as a functional readout for the ligand-induced activation of the human bradykinin B1 receptor, expressed recombinantly in CHO cells. The beta-lactamase reporter gene assay provides high sensitivity due to the absence of endogenous beta-lactamase activity in mammalian cells. The cell-permeable fluorogenic substrate allows single-cell cloning of cells expressing functional BK1 receptors. Pharmacological characterization reveals comparable sensitivity and potency of known BK1 receptor agonists and antagonists between the beta-lactamase assay, competition-binding assay, and other direct measurements of second messengers. The beta-lactamase assay has been optimized for cell density, time of agonist stimulation, and DMSO sensitivity. This CHO-hBK1-beta-lactamase assay is well suited to automation and miniaturization required for high-throughput screening.
    Analytical Biochemistry 04/2003; 314(1):16-29. · 2.58 Impact Factor