ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202002.0009.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Biochemistry Keywords: target identification; drug affinity responsive target stability (DARTS); mass spectrometry imaging (MSI); voacangine; curcumin; natural products
Online: 3 February 2020 (04:36:54 CET)
Although natural products are an important source of drugs and drug leads, identification and validation of their target proteins have proven difficult. Here, we report the development of a systematic strategy for target identification and validation employing drug affinity responsive target stability (DARTS) and mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) without modifying or labeling natural compounds. Through a validation step using curcumin, which targets aminopeptidase N (APN), we successfully standardized the systematic strategy. Using label-free voacangine, an antiangiogenic alkaloid molecule as the model natural compound, DARTS analysis revealed vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) as a target protein. Voacangine inhibits VEGFR2 kinase activity and its downstream signaling by binding to the kinase domain of VEGFR2, as was revealed by docking simulation. Through cell culture assays, voacangine was found to inhibit the growth of glioblastoma cells expressing high levels of VEGFR2. Specific localization of voacangine to tumor compartments in a glioblastoma xenograft mouse was revealed by MSI analysis. The overlap of histological images with the MSI signals for voacangine was intense in the tumor regions and showed colocalization of voacangine and VEGFR2 in the tumor tissues by immunofluorescence analysis of VEGFR2. The strategy employing DARTS and MSI to identify and validate the targets of a natural compound as demonstrated for voacangine in this study is expected to streamline the general approach of drug discovery and validation using other biomolecules including natural products.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201910.0373.v1
Subject: Medicine & Pharmacology, Oncology & Oncogenics Keywords: malignant melanoma; BRAF V600E mutation; proteomics; mass spectrometry genetics; heterogeneity; prognosis
Online: 31 October 2019 (10:36:32 CET)
In comparison to other human cancer types, malignant melanoma exhibits the greatest amount of heterogeneity. After DNA-based detection of the BRAF V600E mutation in melanoma patients, targeted inhibitor treatment is the current recommendation. This approach, however, does not take the abundance of the therapeutic target, i.e., the B-raf V600E protein, into consideration. As shown by immunohistochemistry, the protein expression profiles of metastatic melanomas do clearly reveal the existence of inter- and intra-tumor variability. Nevertheless, the technique is only semi-quantitative. To quantitate the mutant protein there is a fundamental need for more precise techniques that are aimed at defining the currently non-existent link between the levels of the target protein and subsequent drug efficacy. Using cutting-edge mass spectrometry combined with DNA and mRNA sequencing, the mutated B-raf protein within metastatic tumors was quantitated for the first time. B-raf V600E protein analysis revealed a subjacent layer of heterogeneity for mutation-positive metastatic melanomas. These were characterized into two distinct groups with different tumor morphologies, protein profiles and patient clinical outcomes. This study provides evidence that a higher level of expression for the mutated protein is associated with a more aggressive tumor progression. Our study design that is comprised of surgical isolation of tumors, histopathological characterization, tissue biobanking, and protein analysis may enable the eventual delineation of patient responders/non-responders and the subsequent therapy of malignant melanoma.