Donald S Backos

University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, United States

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Publications (28)154.15 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Protein lysine posttranslational modification (PTM) by an increasing number of different acyl groups is becoming appreciated as a regulatory mechanism in cellular biology. Sirtuins are class III histone deacylases that use NAD+ as a co-substrate during amide bond hydrolysis. Several studies have described the sirtuins as sensors of the NAD+/NADH ratio, but it has not been formally tested for all the mammalian sirtuins in vitro. To address this problem, we first synthesized a wide variety of peptide-based probes, which were used to identify the range of hydrolytic activities of human sirtuins. These probes included aliphatic ϵ-N-acyllysine modifications with hydrocarbon lengths ranging from formyl (C1) to palmitoyl (C16) as well as negatively charged dicarboxyl-derived modifications. In addition to the well-established activities of the sirtuins, "long chain" acyllysine modifications were also shown to be prone to hydrolytic cleavage by SIRT1-3 and SIRT6, supporting recent findings. We then tested the ability of NADH, ADP-ribose (ADPR) and nicotinamide (NAM) to inhibit these NAD+-dependent deacylase activities of the sirtuins. In the commonly used 7-amino-4-methylcoumarin (AMC)-coupled fluorescence-based assay, the fluorophore has significant spectral overlap with NADH and therefore cannot be used to measure inhibition by NADH. Therefore, we turned to an HPLC-MS-based assay to directly monitor the conversion of acylated peptides to their deacylated forms. All tested sirtuin deacylase activities showed sensitivity to NADH in this assay. However, the inhibitory concentrations of NADH in these assays are far greater than the predicted concentrations of NADH in cells, and therefore, our data indicate that NADH is unlikely to inhibit sirtuins in vivo. These data suggest a re-evaluation of the sirtuins as direct sensors of the NAD+/NADH ratio.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2016 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
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    ABSTRACT: The current treatment for medulloblastoma includes surgical resection, radiation, and cytotoxic chemotherapy. Although this approach has improved survival rates, the high doses of chemotherapy required for clinical efficacy often result in lasting neurocognitive defects and other adverse events. Therefore, the development of chemosensitizing agents that allow dose reductions of cytotoxic agents, limiting their adverse effects but maintaining their clinical efficacy, would be an attractive approach to treat medulloblastoma. We previously identified WEE1 kinase as a new molecular target for medulloblastoma from an integrated genomic analysis of gene expression and a kinome-wide siRNA screen of medulloblastoma cells and tissue. In addition, we demonstrated that WEE1 prevents DNA damage-induced cell death by cisplatin and that the WEE1 inhibitor AZD1775 displays synergistic activity with cisplatin. AZD1775 was developed as a WEE1 inhibitor from an initial hit from a high-throughput screen. However, given the lack of structure-activity data for AZD1775, we developed a small series of analogs to determine the requirements for WEE1 inhibition and further examine the effects of WEE1 inhibition in medulloblastoma. Interestingly, the compounds that inhibited WEE1 in the same nanomolar range as AZD1775 had significantly reduced single-agent cytotoxicity compared with AZD1775 and displayed synergistic activity with cisplatin in medulloblastoma cells. The potent cytotoxicity of AZD1775, unrelated to WEE1 inhibition, may result in dose-limiting toxicities and exacerbate adverse effects; therefore, WEE1 inhibitors that demonstrate low cytotoxicity could be dosed at higher concentrations to chemosensitize the tumor and potentiate the effect of DNA-damaging agents such as cisplatin.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · ACS Chemical Biology
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    ABSTRACT: Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is a transcription factor that regulates the expression of genes related to cell cycle, cell survival, and immune response associated with cancer progression and malignancy in a number of cancer types. Once activated, STAT3 forms a homodimer and translocates to the nucleus where it binds DNA promoting the translation of target genes associated with anti-apoptosis, angiogenesis, and invasion/migration. In normal cells, levels of activated STAT3 remain transient; however, STAT3 remains constitutively active in approximately 70% of human solid tumors. The pivotal role of STAT3 in tumor progression, has promoted a campaign in drug discovery to identify small molecules that disrupt the function of STAT3. A range of approaches have been used to identify novel small molecule inhibitors of STAT3, including high-throughput screening of chemical libraries, computational-based virtual screening and fragment-based design strategies. The most common approaches in targeting STAT3 activity are either via the inhibition of tyrosine kinases capable of phosphorylating and thereby activating STAT3, or by preventing the formation of functional STAT3 dimers through disruption of the SH2 domains. However, the targeting of the STAT3 DNA-binding domain and disruption of binding of STAT3 to its DNA promoter have not been thoroughly examined, mainly due to the lack of adequate assay systems. This review summarizes the development of STAT3 inhibitors organized by the approach used to inhibit STAT3, the current inhibitors of each class, the assay systems used to evaluate STAT3 inhibition, and offers an insight into future approaches for small molecule STAT3 inhibitor development.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · ACS Chemical Biology
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    ABSTRACT: Pituitary tumors of the gonadotrope lineage are often large and invasive, resulting in hypopituitarism. No medical treatments are currently available. Using a combined genetic and genomic screen of individual human gonadotrope pituitary tumor samples, we recently identified the Mammalian sterile-20 like kinase 4 (MST4) as a pro-tumorigenic effector, driving increased pituitary cell proliferation and survival in response to a hypoxic microenvironment. To identify novel inhibitors of the MST4 kinase for potential future clinical use, computational-based virtual library screening was employed to dock the SelleckChem kinase inhibitor library into the ATP-binding site of the MST4 crystal structure. Several inhibitor candidates were identified with the potential to bind with high affinity. Using a TR-FRET in vitro recombinant kinase assay, hesperadin, initially described as an Aurora kinase inhibitor, exhibited potent inhibition of the MST4 kinase at nanomolar concentrations. The LβT2 gonadotrope pituitary cell hypoxic model was used to test the ability of this inhibitor to antagonize MST4 actions. Under short-term severe hypoxia (1% O2), MST4 protection from hypoxia-induced apoptosis was abrogated in the presence of hesperadin. Similarly, under chronic hypoxia (5%), hesperadin blocked the proliferative and colony forming actions of MST4 as well as the ability to activate specific downstream signaling and hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) effectors. Together, these data identify hesperadin as the first potent, selective inhibitor of the MST4 kinase with the capacity to block pituitary tumor cell growth in a hypoxic microenvironment.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Molecular Cancer Therapeutics

  • No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Cancer Research
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    ABSTRACT: Using the structure-activity relationship emerging from previous Letter, and guided by pharmacokinetic properties, new AIMs have been prepared with both improved efficacy against human glioblastoma cells and cell permeability as determined by fluorescent confocal microscopy. We present our first unambiguous evidence for telomeric G4-forming oligonucleotide anisotropy by NMR resulting from direct interaction with AIMs, which is consistent with both our G4 melting studies by CD, and our working hypothesis. Finally, we show that AIMs induce apoptosis in SNB-19 cells. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters
  • David W H Riches · Donald S Backos · Elizabeth F Redente
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    ABSTRACT: This commentary highlights the article by Sisson et al, which establishes the importance of the myocardin-related transcription factor/serum response factor signaling pathway as a therapeutic target in the management of fibrotic lung disease. Copyright © 2015 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2015 · American Journal Of Pathology

  • No preview · Article · Oct 2014 · Cancer Research
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    ABSTRACT: 1,1-Bis(3'-indolyl)-1-(p-substituted phenyl)methane (C-DIM) compounds exhibit antineoplastic activity in multiple cancer cell lines and the p-hydroxyphenyl analog (DIM-C-pPhOH) inactivates NR4A1 in lung and pancreatic cancer cell lines. Using a series of 14 different p-substituted phenyl C-DIMs, we show that several compounds including DIM-C-pPhOH directly interacted with the ligand binding domain (LBD) of NR4A1. Computational-based molecular modeling studies showed high affinity interactions of DIM-C-pPhOH and related compounds within the ligand binding pocket of NR4A1 and these same compounds decreased NR4A1-dependent transactivation in colon cancer cells transfected with a construct containing 3 tandem Nur77 binding response elements (NBREs) linked to a luciferase reporter gene. Moreover, we also show that knockdown of NR4A1 by RNA interference (siNR4A1) or treatment with DIM-C-pPhOH and related compounds decreased colon cancer cell growth, induced apoptosis, decreased expression of survivin and other Sp-regulated genes, and inhibited mTOR signaling. Thus, C-DIMs such as DIM-C-pPhOH directly bind NR4A1 and are NR4A1 antagonists in colon cancer cells and their antineoplastic activity is due, in part, to their interactions with nuclear NR4A1.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Molecular Endocrinology
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    ABSTRACT: Pathogenesis in alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is complicated and multifactorial but clearly involves oxidative stress and inflammation. Currently, conflicting reports exist regarding the role of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in the etiology of ALD. The glucose regulated protein 78 (GRP78) is the ER homologue of HSP70 and plays a critical role in the cellular response to ER stress by serving as a chaperone assisting protein folding and by regulating the signaling of the unfolded protein response (UPR). Comprised of three functional domains, an ATPase, peptide-binding, and lid domain, GRP78 folds nascent polypeptides via the substrate-binding domain. Earlier work has indicated that the ATPase function of GRP78 is intrinsically linked and essential to its chaperone activity. Previous work in our laboratory has indicated that Grp78 and the UPR are not induced in a mouse model of ALD but that Grp78 is adducted by the lipid electrophiles 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) and 4-oxononenal (4-ONE) in vivo. As impairment of Grp78 has the potential to contribute to pathogenesis in ALD, we investigated the functional consequences of aldehyde adduction upon Grp78 function. Identification of 4-HNE and 4-ONE target residues in purified human GRP78 revealed a marked propensity for Lys and His adduction within the ATPase domain and a relative paucity of adduct formation within the peptide-binding domain. Consistent with these findings, we observed a concomitant dose-dependent decrease in ATP-binding and ATPase activity without any discernible impairment of chaperone function. Collectively, our data indicate that ATPase activity is not essential for Grp78 mediated chaperone activity and is consistent with the hypothesis that ER stress does not play a primary initiating role in the early stages of ALD.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2014 · Free Radical Biology and Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: Eya proteins are essential co-activators of the Six family of transcription factors and contain a unique tyrosine phosphatase domain belonging to the haloacid dehalogenase family of phosphatases. The phosphatase activity of Eya is important for the transcription of a subset of Six1-target genes, and also directs cells to the repair rather than apoptosis pathway upon DNA damage. Furthermore, the Eya phosphatase activity has been shown to mediate transformation, invasion, migration, and metastasis of breast cancer cells, making it a potential new drug target for breast cancer. We have previously identified a class of N-arylidenebenzohydrazide compounds that specifically inhibit the Eya2 phosphatase. Herein, we demonstrate that these compounds are reversible inhibitors that selectively inhibit the phosphatase activity of Eya2, but not Eya3. Our mutagenesis results suggest that this class of compounds does not bind to the active site and the binding does not require the coordination with Mg2+. Moreover, these compounds likely bind within a site on the opposite face of the active site, and function as allosteric inhibitors. We also demonstrate that this class of compounds inhibits Eya2 phosphatase mediated cell migration, setting the foundation for these molecules to be developed into chemical probes for understanding the specific function of the Eya2 phosphatase, and to serve as a prototype for the development of Eya2 phosphatase specific anti-cancer drugs.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2014 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
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    ABSTRACT: The production of reactive aldehydes including 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (4-HNE) is a key component of the pathogenesis in a spectrum of chronic inflammatory hepatic diseases including alcoholic liver disease (ALD). One consequence of ALD is increased oxidative stress and altered β-oxidation in hepatocytes. A major regulator of β-oxidation is 5′ AMP protein kinase (AMPK). In an in vitro cellular model, we identified AMPK as a direct target of 4-HNE adduction resulting in inhibition of both H2O2 and 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxyamide ribonucleoside (AICAR)-induced downstream signaling. By employing biotin hydrazide capture, it was confirmed that 4-HNE treatment of cells resulted in carbonylation of AMPKα/β, which was not observed in untreated cells. Using a murine model of alcoholic liver disease, treatment with high concentrations of ethanol resulted in an increase in phosphorylated as well as carbonylated AMPKα. Despite increased AMPK phosphorylation, there was no significant change in phosphorylation of acetyl CoA carboxylase. Mass spectrometry identified Michael addition adducts of 4-HNE on Cys130, Cys174, Cys227, and Cys304 on recombinant AMPKα and Cys225 on recombinant AMPKβ. Molecular modeling analysis of identified 4-HNE adducts on AMPKα suggest that inhibition of AMPK occurs by steric hindrance of the active site pocket and by inhibition of hydrogen peroxide induced oxidation. The observed inhibition of AMPK by 4-HNE provides a novel mechanism for altered β-oxidation in ALD, and these data demonstrate for the first time that AMPK is subject to regulation by reactive aldehydes in vivo.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
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    ABSTRACT: We report the identification and characterization of a five-carbon protein posttranslational modification (PTM) called lysine glutarylation (Kglu). This protein modification was detected by immunoblot and mass spectrometry (MS), and then comprehensively validated by chemical and biochemical methods. We demonstrated that the previously annotated deacetylase, sirtuin 5 (SIRT5), is a lysine deglutarylase. Proteome-wide analysis identified 683 Kglu sites in 191 proteins and showed that Kglu is highly enriched on metabolic enzymes and mitochondrial proteins. We validated carbamoyl phosphate synthase 1 (CPS1), the rate-limiting enzyme in urea cycle, as a glutarylated protein and demonstrated that CPS1 is targeted by SIRT5 for deglutarylation. We further showed that glutarylation suppresses CPS1 enzymatic activity in cell lines, mice, and a model of glutaric acidemia type I disease, the last of which has elevated glutaric acid and glutaryl-CoA. This study expands the landscape of lysine acyl modifications and increases our understanding of the deacylase SIRT5.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · Cell metabolism
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    ABSTRACT: Unlabelled: The benzoquinone ansamycins (BQAs) are a valuable class of antitumor agents that serve as inhibitors of heat shock protein (Hsp)-90. However, clinical use of BQAs has resulted in off-target toxicities, including concerns of hepatotoxicity. Mechanisms underlying the toxicity of quinones include their ability to redox cycle and/or arylate cellular nucleophiles. We have therefore designed 19-substituted BQAs to prevent glutathione conjugation and nonspecific interactions with protein thiols to minimize off-target effects and reduce hepatotoxicity. 19-Phenyl- and 19-methyl-substituted versions of geldanamycin and its derivatives, 17-allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin and 17-(dimethylaminoethylamino)-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-DMAG), did not react with glutathione, whereas marked reactivity was observed using parent BQAs. Importantly, although 17-DMAG induced cell death in primary and cultured mouse hepatocytes, 19-phenyl and 19-methyl DMAG showed reduced toxicity, validating the overall approach. Furthermore, our data suggest that arylation reactions, rather than redox cycling, are a major mechanism contributing to BQA hepatotoxicity. 19-Phenyl BQAs inhibited purified Hsp90 in a Nad(p)h: quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1)-dependent manner, demonstrating increased efficacy of the hydroquinone ansamycin relative to its parent quinone. Molecular modeling supported increased stability of the hydroquinone form of 19-phenyl-DMAG in the active site of human Hsp90. In human breast cancer cells, 19-phenyl BQAs induced growth inhibition also dependent upon metabolism via NQO1 with decreased expression of client proteins and compensatory induction of Hsp70. These data demonstrate that 19-substituted BQAs are unreactive with thiols, display reduced hepatotoxicity, and retain Hsp90 and growth-inhibitory activity in human breast cancer cells, although with diminished potency relative to parent BQAs.
    Preview · Article · Mar 2014 · Molecular pharmacology

  • No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · Molecular Cancer Therapeutics

  • No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Free Radical Biology and Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: The production of reactive aldehydes such as 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) is a key event in the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver disease which ranges from simple steatosis to fibrosis. The lipid phosphatase PTEN plays a central role in the regulation of lipid metabolism in the liver. In the present study, the effects of chronic ethanol feeding and carbonylation on the PTEN signaling pathway were examined in a 9-week mouse feeding model for ALD. Chronic ethanol consumption resulted in altered REDOX homeostasis as evidenced by decreased GSH, decreased Trx1 and increased GST activity. Both PTEN expression and phosphorylation was significantly increased in the livers of ethanol-fed mice. Carbonylation of PTEN increased significantly in the ethanol-fed mice compared to pair-fed control animals corresponding to decreased PTEN 3-phosphatase activity. Concomitantly, increased expression of Akt2 along with increased Akt phosphorylation at residues Thr(308), Thr(450) and Ser(473) was observed resulting in increased Akt2 activity in the ethanol-fed animals. Akt2 activation corresponded to a decrease in cytosolic SREBP and ChREBP. Subsequent LC-MS/MS analysis of 4-HNE modified recombinant human PTEN identified Michael addition adducts of 4-HNE on Cys(71), Cys(136), Lys(147), Lys(223), Cys(250), Lys(254), Lys(313), Lys(327) and Lys(344). Computational based molecular modeling analysis of 4-HNE adducted to Cys(71) near the active site and Lys(327) in the C2 domain of PTEN suggest inhibition of enzyme catalysis via either stearic hindrance of the active site pocket or by prevention of C2 domain-dependent PTEN function. We hypothesize that 4-HNE-mediated PTEN inhibition contributes to the observed activation of Akt2 suggesting a possible novel mechanism of lipid accumulation in response to increased reactive aldehyde production during chronic ethanol administration in mice.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Free Radical Biology and Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: The antioxidant glutathione (GSH) plays a critical role in maintaining intracellular redox homeostasis but in tumors the GSH biosynthetic pathway is often dysregulated, contributing to tumor resistance to radiation and chemotherapy. Glutamate-cysteine ligase (GCL) catalyzes the first and rate-limiting reaction in GSH synthesis, and enzyme function is controlled by GSH feedback inhibition or by transcriptional upregulation of the catalytic (GCLC) and modifier (GCLM) subunits. However, it has recently been reported that the activity of GCLC and the formation of GCL can be modified by reactive aldehyde products derived from lipid peroxidation. Due to the susceptibility of GCLC to posttranslational modifications by reactive aldehydes, we examined the potential for 2-deoxy-D-ribose (2dDR) to glycate GCLC and regulate enzyme activity and GCL formation. 2dDR was found to directly modify both GCLC and GCLM in vitro, resulting in a significant inhibition of GCLC and GCL enzyme activity without altering substrate affinity or feedback inhibition. 2dDR-mediated glycation also inhibited GCL subunit heterodimerization and formation of the GCL holoenzyme complex while not causing dissociation of pre-formed holoenzyme. This PTM could be of particular importance in glioblastoma (GBM) where intratumoral necrosis provides an abundance of thymidine, which can be metabolized by thymidine phosphorylase (TP) to form 2dDR. TP is expressed at high levels in human GBM tumors and shRNA knockdown of TP in U87 GBM cells results in a significant increase in cellular GCL enzymatic activity.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · Neurochemical Research
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    ABSTRACT: Base amino acid lysine residues play an important role in regulation of nuclear receptors (e.g. FXR) leading to enhanced or suppressed biological activity. To understand the molecular mechanisms and the subsequent effects in modulating FXR functions in diverse biological processes, we individually replaced eight highly conserved lysine residues of hFXR with arginine. The effects of each mutated FXR on target gene activation, subcellular localization, protein-protein association, and protein-DNA interaction were investigated. Results demonstrated that K122R, K210R, K339R, and K460R mutants of hFXR, significantly impaired target gene (OSTalpha/beta and BSEP) promoter reporter activity in a ligand-dependent fashion. All of the four mutants did not affect the nuclear localization of FXR. Protein interaction studies show that K210R slightly but significantly decreased FXR/RXR binding affinity, but enhanced the interaction of FXR with lysine methyltransferase Set7/9 by ~21%. K460R decreased the FXR interaction with Set7/9 by ~45%, but has no significant effects on interaction with RXR. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays demonstrated that hFXR-K210R and -K339R reduced the protein-DNA (IR1 element at hBSEP promoter) binding affinity by ~80% and ~90%, respectively. Computational-based protein modeling studies were consistent with these results and provided further insights into the potential underlying mechanisms responsible for these results. In conclusion, four highly conserved lysine residues, K122, K210, K339, and K460 of hFXR have been identified that play a critical role in FXR target gene regulation and molecular interaction (protein-protein and protein-DNA).
    Preview · Article · Mar 2013 · Molecular pharmacology
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    ABSTRACT: Gout, a common form of inflammatory arthritis, is strongly associated with elevated uric acid concentrations in the blood (hyperuricemia). A recent study in Icelanders identified a rare missense single nucleotide polymporphism (SNP) in the ALDH16A1 gene, ALDH16A1∗2, to be associated with gout and serum uric acid levels. ALDH16A1 is a novel and rather unique member of the ALDH superfamily in relation to its gene and protein structures. ALDH16 genes are present in fish, amphibians, protista, bacteria but absent from archaea, fungi and plants. In most mammalian species, two ALDH16A1 spliced variants (ALDH16A1, long form and ALDH16A1_v2, short form) have been identified and both are expressed in HepG-2, HK-2 and HK-293 human cell lines. The ALDH16 proteins contain two ALDH domains (as opposed to one in the other members of the superfamily), four transmembrane and one coiled-coil domains. The active site of ALDH16 proteins from bacterial, frog and lower animals contain the catalytically important cysteine residue (Cys-302); this residue is absent from the mammalian and fish orthologs. Molecular modeling predicts that both the short and long forms of human ALDH16A1 protein would lack catalytic activity but may interact with the hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT1) protein, a key enzyme involved in uric acid metabolism and gout. Interestingly, such protein-protein interactions with HPRT1 are predicted to be impaired for the long or short forms of ALDH16A1∗2. These results lead to the intriguing possibility that association between ALDH16A1 and HPRT1 may be required for optimal HPRT activity with disruption of this interaction possibly contributing to the hyperuricemia seen in ALDH16A1∗2 carriers.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2013 · Chemico-biological interactions