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Eur J Biochem. 1999 Dec;266(3):1184-91.

Identification and characterization of potential new therapeutic targets in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

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Hoechst Marion Roussel, DG Rheumatology, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.


The isoxazole derivative Leflunomide (HWA 486) is a novel immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory drug. Affinity chromatography was used to purify and identify Leflunomide binding proteins, which might play a role as potential cellular targets in the molecular mode of action. The Leflunomide derivative A 0273 was covalently coupled to a Fractogel(R) matrix. This column was used to separate a cytosolic protein extract of the macrophage cell line RAW 264.7 by several selected and specific gradient elution steps. Proteins that were specifically eluted through the active metabolite of Leflunomide, A 1726, were identified by subsequent protein sequence analysis. This allowed us to specify 10 cytosolic proteins, which bind with high affinity to this matrix. Three of them, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase, pyruvate kinase and phosphoglycerate mutase belong to the second part of the glycolytic pathway. The binding specificity of these protein/drug interactions was further evaluated using BIAcore(R) analysis. Kd values of glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase, pyruvate kinase and lactic dehydrogenase were similar to the Kd value of a known Leflunomide target protein, dihydroorotate dehydrogenase. In order to elucidate the features as well as the overall relevance of these results, cytosolic fractions of three additional cell lines MOLT-4, A20.2J, HeLa were compared using the same chromatographic protocol. The elution profiles as well as subsequent Western blot analyses confirmed the data obtained previously for the macrophage cell line RAW 264.7.

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