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Chem Biol. 2003 Aug;10(8):733-42.

Cell-active dual specificity phosphatase inhibitors identified by high-content screening.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.


Phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk) is tightly controlled by dual specificity phosphatases (DSPases), but few inhibitors of Erk dephosphorylation have been identified. Using a high-content, fluorescence-based cellular assay and the National Cancer Institute's 1990 agent Diversity Set, we identified ten compounds (0.5%) that significantly increased phospho-Erk cytonuclear differences in intact cells. Three of the ten positive compounds inhibited the mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-3 (MKP-3/PYST-1) in vitro without affecting VHR or PTP1B phosphatases. The most potent inhibitor of MKP-3 had an IC(50) of <10 microM and inhibited MKP-3 in a novel, fluorescence-based multiparameter chemical complementation assay. These results suggest that the phospho-Erk nuclear accumulation assay may be a useful tool to discover DSPase inhibitors with biological activity.

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