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Chem Biol. 2009 Nov 25;16(11):1158-68. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2009.10.006.

Identification and characterization of a small molecule inhibitor of formin-mediated actin assembly.

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Department of Chemistry, The University of Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Formins stimulate actin filament assembly for fundamental cellular processes including division, adhesion, establishing polarity, and motility. A formin inhibitor would be useful because most cells express multiple formins whose functions are not known and because metastatic tumor formation depends on the deregulation of formin-dependent processes. We identified a general small molecule inhibitor of formin homology 2 domains (SMIFH2) by screening compounds for the ability to prevent formin-mediated actin assembly in vitro. SMIFH2 targets formins from evolutionarily diverse organisms including yeast, nematode worm, and mice, with a half-maximal inhibitor concentration of approximately 5 to 15 microM. SMIFH2 prevents both formin nucleation and processive barbed end elongation and decreases formin's affinity for the barbed end. Furthermore, low micromolar concentrations of SMIFH2 disrupt formin-dependent, but not Arp2/3 complex-dependent, actin cytoskeletal structures in fission yeast and mammalian NIH 3T3 fibroblasts.

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