Dual-reporter high-throughput screen for small-molecule in vivo inhibitors of plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 yields a clinical lead candidate

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Journal of Biological Chemistry


Plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 (PAI-1) is a serine prote-ase inhibitor (serpin) implicated in numerous pathological processes, including coronary heart disease, arterial and venous thrombosis, and chronic fibrotic diseases. These associations have made PAI-1 an attractive pharmaceutical target. However, the complexity of the serpin inhibitory mechanism, the inherent metastability of serpins, and the high-affinity association of PAI-1 with vitronectin in vivo have made it difficult to identify pharmacologi-cally effective small-molecule inhibitors. Moreover, the majority of current small-molecule PAI-1 inhibitors are poor pharmaceutical candidates. To this end and to find leads that can be efficiently applied to in vivo settings, we developed a dual-reporter high-throughput screen (HTS) that reduced the rate of nonspecific and promiscuous hits and identified leads that inhibit human PAI-1 in the high-protein environments present in vivo. Using this system, we screened >152,000 pure compounds and 27,000 natural product extracts (NPEs), reducing the apparent hit rate by almost 10-fold compared with previous screening approaches. Furthermore, screening in a high-protein environment permitted the identification of compounds that retained activity in both ex vivo plasma and in vivo. Following lead identification, subsequent medicinal chemistry and structure–activity relationship (SAR) studies identified a lead clinical candidate, MDI-2268, having excellent pharmacokinetics, potent activity against vitronectin-bound PAI-1 in vivo, and efficacy in a murine model of venous thrombosis. This rigorous HTS approach eliminates promiscuous candidate leads, significantly accelerates the process of identifying PAI-1 inhibitors that can be rapidly deployed in vivo, and has enabled identification of a potent lead compound.


*EMU student author

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