Discovery of Novel Inhibitors of O-GlcNAc Transferase Through Structure-Based Virtual Screening

March 31, 2021
Events, ACS2021

At the American Chemical Society Spring 2021 Virtual Meeting & Expo, several Atomwise members and partners were selected to present their research and work. Learn what our Atoms have been working on below and visit Atomwise at ACS Spring 2021 Virtual Meeting & Expo for other presentation sessions. 


Matthew Alteen, PhDMatthew Alteen, PhD 
Dept. of Chemistry, Simon Fraser University

Co-Authors: Josh Goldenberg, PhD (Atomwise)
David Vocadlo, PhD (Dept. of Chemistry, Simon Fraser University)

Title: Discovery of Novel Inhibitors of O-GlcNAc Transferase Through Structure-Based Virtual Screening 

Division: MEDI



The addition of O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) to intracellular proteins is a dynamic and ubiquitous post-translational modification in mammalian cells. This modification is installed by the enzyme O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) and has emerged as a major regulator of cell and organismal physiology, governing central processes such as transcription. Notably, excessive OGT activity has been linked to many of the hallmark signalling pathways of cancer that can lead to metastasis and tumor growth. There is therefore a pressing need for potent and selective inhibitors of OGT to study the role of this enzyme in cancer progression and to validate OGT inhibition as a translational therapeutic strategy. Unfortunately, the development of drug-like inhibitors of OGT for use in preclinical studies remains a major challenge, as the current suite of available inhibitors suffer from liabilities relating to their selectivity and physicochemical properties.

To address this need, we performed a virtual screen for novel inhibitory scaffolds of OGT using AtomNet® technology, a unique artificial intelligence platform that applies deep convolutional neural networks to drug discovery. We first screened a virtual library of ~3.5 million commercially available compounds for affinity within the active site of OGT. The top 30,000 scoring hits were subsequently clustered and filtered to a final subset of deliverable compounds. A set of 96 compounds were then tested for inhibition towards OGT using a series of enzyme activity and binding assays, revealing a new inhibitory scaffold with moderate potency. This scaffold was optimized with an additional SAR-by-catalog screen, leading to the discovery of improved inhibitors with low-micromolar affinity. These inhibitors will enable the development of new tool compounds to study the role of OGT in human health and disease and to validate this potential cancer target.


Poster Presentation

ACS poster Spring 2021_Matt Alteen


About AIMS

The AIMS Award program, started in 2017, is designed to support promising researchers with resources that will help advance their work. AIMS Awards target research focused on finding solutions for complex human health conditions. To date, Atomwise has funded 7 rounds of AIMS Awards, completing over 100 collaborative projects and accepting over 775 projects into the program.

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