[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tight control over the segregation of endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm is essential for normal embryonic development of all species, yet how neighboring embryonic blastomeres can contribute to different germ layers has never been fully explained. We postulated that microRNAs, which fine-tune many biological processes, might modulate the response of embryonic blastomeres to growth factors and other signals that govern germ layer fate. A systematic screen of a whole-genome microRNA library revealed that the let-7 and miR-18 families increase mesoderm at the expense of endoderm in mouse embryonic stem cells. Both families are expressed in ectoderm and mesoderm, but not endoderm, as these tissues become distinct during mouse and frog embryogenesis. Blocking let-7 function in vivo dramatically affected cell fate, diverting presumptive mesoderm and ectoderm into endoderm. siRNA knockdown of computationally predicted targets followed by mutational analyses revealed that let-7 and miR-18 down-regulate Acvr1b and Smad2, respectively, to attenuate Nodal responsiveness and bias blastomeres to ectoderm and mesoderm fates. These findings suggest a crucial role for the let-7 and miR-18 families in germ layer specification and reveal a remarkable conservation of function from amphibians to mammals.
Genes & development 11/2012; · 12.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A medium-throughput murine embryonic stem cell (mESC)-based high-content screening of 17000 small molecules for cardiogenesis led to the identification of a b-annulated 1,4-dihydropyridine (1,4-DHP) that inhibited transforming growth factor β (TGFβ)/Smad signaling by clearing the type II TGFβ receptor from the cell surface. Because this is an unprecedented mechanism of action, we explored the series' structure-activity relationship (SAR) based on TGFβ inhibition, and evaluated SAR aspects for cell-surface clearance of TGFβ receptor II (TGFBR2) and for biological activity in mESCs. We determined a pharmacophore and generated 1,4-DHPs with IC(50)s for TGFβ inhibition in the nanomolar range (e.g., compound 28, 170 nM). Stereochemical consequences of a chiral center at the 4-position was evaluated, revealing 10- to 15-fold more potent TGFβ inhibition for the (+)- than the (-) enantiomer. This stereopreference was not observed for the low level inhibition against Activin A signaling and was reversed for effects on calcium handling in HL-1 cells.
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 11/2012; · 5.61 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cellular signals controlling the formation of cardiomyocytes, vascular smooth muscle, and endothelial cells from stem cell-derived mesoderm are poorly understood. To identify these signals, a mouse embryonic stem cell (ESC)-based differentiation assay was screened against a small molecule library resulting in a 1,4-dihydropyridine inducer of type II TGF-β receptor (TGFBR2) degradation-1 (ITD-1). ITD analogs enhanced proteasomal degradation of TGFBR2, effectively clearing the receptor from the cell surface and selectively inhibiting intracellular signaling (IC(50) ~0.4-0.8 μM). ITD-1 was used to evaluate TGF-β involvement in mesoderm formation and cardiopoietic differentiation, which occur sequentially during early development, revealing an essential role in both processes in ESC cultures. ITD-1 selectively enhanced the differentiation of uncommitted mesoderm to cardiomyocytes, but not to vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells. ITD-1 is a highly selective TGF-β inhibitor and reveals an unexpected role for TGF-β signaling in controlling cardiomyocyte differentiation from multipotent cardiovascular precursors.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cellular signals controlling the formation of cardi-omyocytes, vascular smooth muscle, and endothe-lial cells from stem cell-derived mesoderm are poorly understood. To identify these signals, a mouse em-bryonic stem cell (ESC)-based differentiation assay was screened against a small molecule library result-ing in a 1,4-dihydropyridine inducer of type II TGF-b receptor (TGFBR2) degradation-1 (ITD-1). ITD an-alogs enhanced proteasomal degradation of TGFBR2, effectively clearing the receptor from the cell surface and selectively inhibiting intracellular signaling (IC 50 $0.4–0.8 mM). ITD-1 was used to eval-uate TGF-b involvement in mesoderm formation and cardiopoietic differentiation, which occur sequen-tially during early development, revealing an essen-tial role in both processes in ESC cultures. ITD-1 selectively enhanced the differentiation of uncom-mitted mesoderm to cardiomyocytes, but not to vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells. ITD-1 is a highly selective TGF-b inhibitor and reveals an unexpected role for TGF-b signaling in controlling cardiomyocyte differentiation from multipotent cardiovascular precursors.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatocyte nuclear factor (HNF)4α is a central regulator of gene expression in cell types that play a critical role in metabolic homeostasis, including hepatocytes, enterocytes, and pancreatic β cells. Although fatty acids were found to occupy the HNF4α ligand-binding pocket and were proposed to act as ligands, there is controversy about both the nature of HNF4α ligands as well as the physiological role of the binding. Here, we report the discovery of potent synthetic HNF4α antagonists through a high-throughput screen for effectors of the human insulin promoter. These molecules bound to HNF4α with high affinity and modulated the expression of known HNF4α target genes. Notably, they were found to be selectively cytotoxic to cancer cell lines in vitro and in vivo, although in vivo potency was limited by suboptimal pharmacokinetic properties. The discovery of bioactive modulators for HNF4α raises the possibility that diseases involving HNF4α, such as diabetes and cancer, might be amenable to pharmacologic intervention by modulation of HNF4α activity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The standard (STD) 5 × 5 hybrid median filter (HMF) was previously described as a nonparametric local backestimator of spatially arrayed microtiter plate (MTP) data. As such, the HMF is a useful tool for mitigating global and sporadic systematic error in MTP data arrays. Presented here is the first known HMF correction of a primary screen suffering from systematic error best described as gradient vectors. Application of the STD 5 × 5 HMF to the primary screen raw data reduced background signal deviation, thereby improving the assay dynamic range and hit confirmation rate. While this HMF can correct gradient vectors, it does not properly correct periodic patterns that may present in other screening campaigns. To address this issue, 1 × 7 median and a row/column 5 × 5 hybrid median filter kernels (1 × 7 MF and RC 5 × 5 HMF) were designed ad hoc, to better fit periodic error patterns. The correction data show periodic error in simulated MTP data arrays is reduced by these alternative filter designs and that multiple corrective filters can be combined in serial operations for progressive reduction of complex error patterns in a MTP data array.
Journal of Biomolecular Screening 09/2011; 16(9):1068-80. · 2.21 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Microtiter plate (MTP) assays often exhibit distortions, such as caused by edge-dependent drying and robotic fluid handling variation. Distortions vary by assay system but can have both systematic patterns (predictable from plate to plate) and random (sporadic and unpredictable) components. Random errors can be especially difficult to resolve by assay optimization alone, and postassay algorithms reported to date have smoothing effects that often blunt hits. We implemented a 5 x 5 bidirectional hybrid median filter (HMF) as a local background estimator to scale each data point to the MTP global background median and compared it with a recently described Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) technique for correcting errors on computationally and experimentally generated MTP datasets. Experimental data were generated from a 384-well format fluorescent bioassay using cells engineered to express eGFP and DsRED. MTP arrays were produced with and without control treatments used to simulate hits in random wells. The HMF demonstrated the greatest improvements in MTP coefficients of variation and dynamic range (defined by the ratio of average hit amplitude to standard deviation, SD) for all synthetic and experimental MTPs examined. After HMF application to a MTP of eGFP signal from mouse insulinoma (MIN6) cells obtained by a plate-reader, the assay coefficient of variation (CV) decreased from 8.0% in the raw dataset to 5.1% and the hit amplitudes were reduced by only 1% while the DFT method increased the CV by 36.0% and reduced the hit amplitude by 21%. Thus, our results show that the bidirectional HMF provides superior corrections of MTP data distortions while at the same time preserving hit amplitudes and improving dynamic range. The software to perform hybrid median filter MTP corrections is available at http://bccg.burnham.org/HTS/HMF_Download_Page.aspx, password is pbushway.
Assay and Drug Development Technologies 03/2010; 8(2):238-50. · 1.90 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Debilitating cardiomyocyte loss underlies the progression to heart failure. Although there have been significant advances in treatment, current therapies are intended to improve or preserve heart function rather than regenerate lost myocardium. A major hurdle in implementing a cell-based regenerative therapy is the inefficient differentiation of cardiomyocytes from either endogenous or exogenous stem cell sources. Moreover, cardiomyocytes that develop in human embryonic stem cell (hESC) or human-induced pluripotent stem cell (hIPSC) cultures are comparatively immature, even after prolonged culture, and differences in their calcium handling, ion channel, and force generation properties relative to adult cardiomyocytes raise concerns of improper integration and function after transplantation. Thus, the discovery of natural and novel small molecule synthetic regulators of differentiation and maturation would accelerate the development of stem-cell-based myocardial therapies. Here, we document recent advances in defining natural signaling pathways that direct the multistep cardiomyogenic differentiation program and the development of small molecules that might be used to enhance differentiation as well as the potential characteristics of lead candidates for pharmaceutical stimulation of endogenous myocardial replacement.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We evaluated the performance of two plate readers (the Beckman Coulter [Fullerton, CA] DTX and the PerkinElmer [Wellesley, MA] EnVision) and a plate imager (the General Electric [Fairfield, CT] IN Cell 1000 Analyzer) in a primary fluorescent cellular screen of 10,000 Molecular Libraries Screening Center Network library compounds for up- and down-regulation of vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM)-1, which has been shown to be up-regulated in atherothrombotic vascular disease and is a general indicator of chronic inflammatory disease. Prior to screening, imaging of a twofold, six-step titration of fluorescent cells in a 384-well test plate showed greater consistency, sensitivity, and dynamic range of signal detection curves throughout the detection range, as compared to the plate readers. With the same 384-well test plate, the detection limits for fluorescent protein-labeled cells on the DTX and EnVision instruments were 2,250 and 560 fluorescent cells per well, respectively, as compared to 280 on the IN Cell 1000. During VCAM screening, sensitivity was critical for detection of antagonists, which reduced brightness of the primary immunofluorescence readout; inhibitor controls yielded Z' values of 0.41 and 0.16 for the IN Cell 1000 and EnVision instruments, respectively. The best 1% of small molecule inhibitors from all platforms were visually confirmed using images from the IN Cell 1000. The EnVision and DTX plate readers mutually identified approximately 57% and 21%, respectively, of the VCAM-1 inhibitors visually confirmed in the IN Cell best 1% of inhibitors. Furthermore, the plate reader hits were largely exclusive, with only 6% agreement across all platforms (three hits out of 47). Taken together, the imager outperformed the plate readers at hit detection in this bimodal assay because of superior sensitivity and had the advantage of speeding hit confirmation during post-acquisition analysis.
Assay and Drug Development Technologies 09/2008; 6(4):557-67. · 1.90 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Realizing the potential of stem cell biology requires the modulation of self-renewal and differentiation, both of which are incompletely understood. This chapter describes methods for the design, development, and implementation of cell-based screens of small molecules, genes and expressed proteins for modulation of stem and progenitor cell fate. These include the engineering of embryonic and other stem cells with gene promoter-reporter protein constructs and their application in automated screening. We discuss considerations of promoter reporter selection, assay development and implementation, and image acquisition, analysis, and data handling. Such black-box screens are useful for the identification of probes of developmental processes and should provide tools that will identify druggable targets for biochemical assays.
Methods in Enzymology 02/2006; 414:300-16. · 2.00 Impact Factor