Identification and Characterization of Novel Classes of Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor (MIF) Inhibitors with Distinct Mechanisms of Action

Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Functional Neuroproteomics, Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.
Journal of Biological Chemistry (Impact Factor: 4.57). 08/2010; 285(34):26581-98. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M110.113951
Source: PubMed


Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), a proinflammatory cytokine, is considered an attractive therapeutic target in multiple inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. In addition to its known biologic activities, MIF can also function as a tautomerase. Several small molecules have been reported to be effective inhibitors of MIF tautomerase activity in vitro. Herein we employed a robust activity-based assay to identify different classes of novel inhibitors of the catalytic and biological activities of MIF. Several novel chemical classes of inhibitors of the catalytic activity of MIF with IC(50) values in the range of 0.2-15.5 microm were identified and validated. The interaction site and mechanism of action of these inhibitors were defined using structure-activity studies and a battery of biochemical and biophysical methods. MIF inhibitors emerging from these studies could be divided into three categories based on their mechanism of action: 1) molecules that covalently modify the catalytic site at the N-terminal proline residue, Pro(1); 2) a novel class of catalytic site inhibitors; and finally 3) molecules that disrupt the trimeric structure of MIF. Importantly, all inhibitors demonstrated total inhibition of MIF-mediated glucocorticoid overriding and AKT phosphorylation, whereas ebselen, a trimer-disrupting inhibitor, additionally acted as a potent hyperagonist in MIF-mediated chemotactic migration. The identification of biologically active compounds with known toxicity, pharmacokinetic properties, and biological activities in vivo should accelerate the development of clinically relevant MIF inhibitors. Furthermore, the diversity of chemical structures and mechanisms of action of our inhibitors makes them ideal mechanistic probes for elucidating the structure-function relationships of MIF and to further determine the role of the oligomerization state and catalytic activity of MIF in regulating the function(s) of MIF in health and disease.

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    • "The platform does not privilege any particular biological discipline or therapeutic area and performs screens in (but *Address correspondence to this author at the Biomolecular Screening Facility, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Station 15, Lausanne 1015, Switzerland; Tel: +41 21 693 96 66; E-mail: not limited to) the areas of cancer research [2] [3], neurobiology [4] [5], and metabolic and infectious diseases [6] for researchers interested in drug discovery, chemical biology and systems biology. This 'generic' and flexible concept was extended to the type of screening assays and the nature of compounds to be tested. "
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    ABSTRACT: The Biomolecular Screening Facility (BSF) is a multidisciplinary laboratory created in 2006 at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) to perform medium and high throughput screening in life sciences-related projects. The BSF was conceived and developed to meet the needs of a wide range of researchers, without privileging a particular biological discipline or therapeutic area. The facility has the necessary infrastructure, multidisciplinary expertise and flexibility to perform large screening programs using small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and chemical collections in the areas of chemical biology, systems biology and drug discovery. In the framework of the National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCR) Chemical Biology, the BSF is hosting 'ACCESS', the Academic Chemical Screening Platform of Switzerland that provides the scientific community with chemical diversity, screening facilities and know-how in chemical genetics. In addition, the BSF started its own applied research axes that are driven by innovation in thematic areas related to preclinical drug discovery and discovery of bioactive probes.
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    • "Second, two main regions (C-terminal β-hairpin and β-strand β3, Figure 1A) within each monomer participate in several intersubunit polar and hydrophobic interactions. The monomeric form of MIF is unstable and mutations that disrupt MIF inter-monomer contacts lead to misfolding and aggregation of the protein (Farah El-Turk PhD thesis, EPFL) [36], [65]. Therefore, it has not been possible to design a monomeric variant of MIF or develop conditions to populate the monomer in solution. "
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    ABSTRACT: Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor (MIF) is a key mediator of inflammatory responses and innate immunity and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The oligomerization of MIF, more specifically trimer formation, is essential for its keto-enol tautomerase activity and probably mediates several of its interactions and biological activities, including its binding to its receptor CD74 and activation of certain signaling pathways. Therefore, understanding the molecular factors governing the oligomerization of MIF and the role of quaternary structure in modulating its structural stability and multifunctional properties is crucial for understanding the function of MIF in health and disease. Herein, we describe highly conserved intersubunit interactions involving the hydrophobic packing of the side chain of Leu46 onto the β-strand β3 of one monomer within a hydrophobic pocket from the adjacent monomer constituted by residues Arg11, Val14, Phe18, Leu19, Val39, His40, Val41, Val42, and Pro43. To elucidate the structural significance of these intersubunit interactions and their relative contribution to MIF's trimerization, structural stability and catalytic activity, we generated three point mutations where Leu46 was replaced by glycine (L46G), alanine (L46A) and phenylalanine (L46F), and their structural properties, stability, oligomerization state, and catalytic activity were characterized using a battery of biophysical methods and X-ray crystallography. Our findings provide new insights into the role of the Leu46 hydrophobic pocket in stabilizing the conformational state of MIF in solution. Disrupting the Leu46 hydrophobic interaction perturbs the secondary and tertiary structure of the protein but has no effect on its oligomerization state.
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    ABSTRACT: The cytokine MIF is involved in inflammation and cell proliferation via pathways initiated by its binding to the transmembrane receptor CD74. MIF also exhibits keto-enol tautomerase activity, believed to be vestigial in mammals. Starting from a 1 μM hit from virtual screening, substituted benzoxazol-2-ones have been discovered as antagonists with IC(50) values as low as 7.5 nM in a tautomerase assay and 80 nM in a MIF-CD74 binding assay. Additional studies for one of the potent inhibitors demonstrated that it is not a covalent inhibitor of MIF and that it attenuates MIF-dependent ERK1/2 phosphorylation in human synovial fibroblasts.
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