Mechanism of Action of Two Small Molecule Necroptosis Inhibitors
AuthorPierotti, Catia Lucchesi
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2023-08-10.
© 2021 Catia Lucchesi Pierotti
Necroptosis is a form of programmed cell death that is controlled by a defined set of protein effectors, despite displaying the morphological characteristics of unregulated lytic cell death (necrosis). Recently, there has been increasing interest in this type of cell death, ignited by studies demonstrating that necroptosis is involved in the pathophysiology of various diseases – including inflammatory conditions, degenerative conditions, infectious diseases and cancers – and further kindled by the progression of small molecule necroptosis inhibitors into clinical trials. The best studied form of necroptosis is driven by the tumour necrosis factor (TNF) signalling pathway, which is initiated by TNF binding to its cell surface receptor TNFR1. Importantly, TNF-induced necroptosis is regulated by three key proteins: the kinases RIPK1 and RIPK3, and the pseudokinase MLKL, which acts as the cell death executioner. To identify novel inhibitors of necroptotic cell death, several small molecule screens were performed at WEHI. This PhD thesis details the investigation into the mechanism of action of two small molecule necroptosis inhibitors identified from these screens. I employed a suite of chemical biology, biochemistry and cell biology approaches to deduce the cellular targets of these small molecules and investigate their anti-necroptotic activity. Chapter 2 examines the identification and mechanism of action of Compound 2, a more potent necroptosis inhibitor than its parent compound, Compound 1, which was identified from a small molecule screen against MLKL. I determined that Compound 2 targets all three necroptotic effector proteins – MLKL, RIPK1 and RIPK3 – in vitro and in cells, to potently block necroptosis in human and murine cells at nanomolar concentrations. Moreover, this study highlights that necroptosis can be potently inhibited by targeting multiple effectors, suggesting that targeting multiple proteins in the pathway may be an ideal strategy for inhibiting necroptosis in a therapeutic context. Chapter 3 explores the cellular activity and cellular targets of ABT-869, an inhibitor of necroptosis identified from a phenotypic screen using a cell line expressing a constitutively active MLKL mutant. I determined that ABT-869 blocks necroptotic cell death by targeting RIPK1 and possibly RIPK3, although whether ABT-869 targets RIPK3 directly or indirectly, as a result of RIPK1 inhibition, remains to be elucidated. Furthermore, this study raises some interesting questions regarding the involvement of RIPK1 downstream of MLKL activation, which could contribute to an improved understanding of how necroptosis is regulated at the molecular level. Together, these two novel inhibitors of necroptosis identified from small molecule screens were found to block necroptotic cell death by targeting known components of the TNF-induced necroptosis pathway. This research provides insight into how small molecules can modulate necroptotic signalling by interacting with key necroptotic proteins to inhibit cell death.
Keywordsnecroptosis; small molecule inhibitors; cell death; chemical biology
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