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New screening technique yields elusive compounds to block immune-regulating enzyme
Date:5/11/2012

LA JOLLA, CA May 10, 2012 Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have found the first chemical compounds that act to block an enzyme that has been linked to inflammatory conditions such as asthma and arthritis, as well as some inflammation-promoted cancers.

The new study, published recently by the journal ACS Chemical Biology, describes new compounds that inhibit an important enzyme called PRMT1 (protein arginine methyltransferase 1). The new inhibitors will be useful to scientists who study PRMT1-related biological pathways in cells and who are developing drug treatments for PRMT1-related inflammatory conditions and cancers.

Standard screening techniques had been unable to distinguish between compounds that inhibit PRMT1 and those that inhibit other common PRMT family enzymes. In the new study, scientists from several Scripps Research laboratories collaborated to devise the first PRMT1-specific screening technique. "We were able to target a screening probe to a specific amino acid found on PRMT1, but not on most other PRMT enzymes," said the study's principal investigator Scripps Research Assistant Professor Kerri A. Mowen.

Mowen has been studying PRMT1 since her graduate school days, and, like others in the field, has been acutely aware of the need for selective PRMT1 inhibitors. The enzyme modifies the functionality of proteins by attaching a methyl group to their arginine amino acids; as such, it is involved in some of the most basic processes in cells. For example, Mowen and her colleagues showed in 2004 that PRMT1 helps drive the production of the key immune-stimulating proteins interferon-gamma and interleukin-4.

But although PRMT1 was known to be responsible for nearly all the arginine methylation that goes in mammalian cells, no one had been able to develop selective PRMT1 inhibitors, since the 10 other PRMT enzymes are nearly identical, structurally and biochemically. Even the removal of PRMT1's
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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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