Publication — IRIC
Identification of Allosteric Inhibitors against Active Caspase-6.
Caspase-6 is a cysteine protease that plays essential roles in programmed cell death, axonal degeneration, and development. The excess neuronal activity of Caspase-6 is associated with Alzheimer disease neuropathology and age-dependent cognitive impairment. Caspase-6 inhibition is a promising strategy to stop early stage neurodegenerative events, yet finding potent and selective Caspase-6 inhibitors has been a challenging task due to the overlapping structural and functional similarities between caspase family members. Here, we investigated how four rare non-synonymous missense single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), resulting in amino acid substitutions outside human Caspase-6 active site, affect enzyme structure and catalytic efficiency. Three investigated SNPs were found to align with a putative allosteric pocket with low sequence conservation among human caspases. Virtual screening of 57,700 compounds against the putative Caspase-6 allosteric pocket, followed by in vitro testing of the best virtual hits in recombinant human Caspase-6 activity assays identified novel allosteric Caspase-6 inhibitors with IC50 and Ki values ranging from ~2 to 13 µM. This report may pave the way towards the development and optimisation of novel small molecule allosteric Caspase-6 inhibitors and illustrates that functional characterisation of rare natural variants holds promise for the identification of allosteric sites on other therapeutic targets in drug discovery.