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Chem Biol. 2003 Dec;10(12):1255-66.

GSK-3-selective inhibitors derived from Tyrian purple indirubins.

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CNRS, Cell Cycle Group, Station Biologique, BP 74, 29682 Roscoff cedex, Bretagne, France.


Gastropod mollusks have been used for over 2500 years to produce the "Tyrian purple" dye made famous by the Phoenicians. This dye is constituted of mixed bromine-substituted indigo and indirubin isomers. Among these, the new natural product 6-bromoindirubin and its synthetic, cell-permeable derivative, 6-bromoindirubin-3'-oxime (BIO), display remarkable selective inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3). Cocrystal structure of GSK-3beta/BIO and CDK5/p25/indirubin-3'-oxime were resolved, providing a detailed view of indirubins' interactions within the ATP binding pocket of these kinases. BIO but not 1-methyl-BIO, its kinase inactive analog, also inhibited the phosphorylation on Tyr276/216, a GSK-3alpha/beta activation site. BIO but not 1-methyl-BIO reduced beta-catenin phosphorylation on a GSK-3-specific site in cellular models. BIO but not 1-methyl-BIO closely mimicked Wnt signaling in Xenopus embryos. 6-bromoindirubins thus provide a new scaffold for the development of selective and potent pharmacological inhibitors of GSK-3.

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