Design and synthesis of small molecule inhibitors of zinc metalloenzymes
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Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are a class of enzymes that play a crucial role in DNA expression by removing an acetyl group from the ɛ-N-acetyl lysine residue on histone proteins. Out of 18 isoforms of HDAC enzymes which are classified into 4 classes, only 11 of them are metalloenzymes that require zinc for its catalytic activity. HDACs are considered promising target for drug development in cancer and other parasitic diseases due to their role in gene expression. Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) can cause cell cycle arrest, and induce differentiation or apotosis. While HDACi shows promising antitumor effects, their mechanism of action and selectivity against cancer cells have not been adequately defined yet. In addition, low oral bioavailability, short half-life time, bone marrow toxicity, and cardiotoxicity limit their use in clinic. Therefore, there is considerable interest in developing compounds with selectivity and specificity towards individual family members of HDACs. The prototypical pharmacophore for HDAC inhibitors consist of a metal-binding moiety that coordinates to the catalytic metal ion within the HDAC active site, a capping group that interacts with the residues at the entrance of the active site and a linker that appropriately positions the metal-binding moiety and capping group for interactions in the active site. It has been shown that modification of cap, cap linking moiety, linker or zinc binding group (ZBG) shows promises of superior potency and isoform selectivity. My thesis research involves manipulating different aspects of the pharmacophoric model to yield not only more potent, selective, and effective drugs but also to help understand the biology of HDAC isoforms. In addition, I was successful in extending studies on HDAC isoforms to other zinc metalloenzymes such as leishmanolysin (gp63) and spliceosome associated zinc-metalloenzymes to understand biology of these zinc metalloenzymes by developing potent and selective small molecule inhibitors. This will aid in improvement of existing therapeutics for treatment of cancer, leishmania, malaria and other genetic disorders.