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PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e29861. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029861. Epub 2012 Jan 17.

High throughput screening for small molecule therapy for Gaucher disease using patient tissue as the source of mutant glucocerebrosidase.

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Medical Genetics Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.


Gaucher disease (GD), the most common lysosomal storage disorder, results from the inherited deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme glucocerebrosidase (GCase). Previously, wildtype GCase was used for high throughput screening (HTS) of large collections of compounds to identify small molecule chaperones that could be developed as new therapies for GD. However, the compounds identified from HTS usually showed reduced potency later in confirmatory cell-based assays. An alternate strategy is to perform HTS on mutant enzyme to identify different lead compounds, including those enhancing mutant enzyme activities. We developed a new screening assay using enzyme extract prepared from the spleen of a patient with Gaucher disease with genotype N370S/N370S. In tissue extracts, GCase is in a more native physiological environment, and is present with the native activator saposin C and other potential cofactors. Using this assay, we screened a library of 250,000 compounds and identified novel modulators of mutant GCase including 14 new lead inhibitors and 30 lead activators. The activities of some of the primary hits were confirmed in subsequent cell-based assays using patient-derived fibroblasts. These results suggest that primary screening assays using enzyme extracted from tissues is an alternative approach to identify high quality, physiologically relevant lead compounds for drug development.

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