Characterization of Putative Mammalian Adenylyl Cyclase Inhibitors Using the Fission Yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe
In both mammals and fission yeast, control of cAMP levels is maintained by adenylyl cyclases (ACs), which synthesize cyclic nucleotide, and by cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases (PDEs), which are responsible for its degradation. AC activity is regulated by G proteins, which respond to signals from G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) that detect extracellular signaling factors such as hormones. cAMP is a second messenger that has several effectors, with protein kinase A (PKA) being a primary target of activation that phosphorylates several downstream targets and results in modulation of pathways such as cell growth and gluconeogenesis. Aberrant cAMP regulation has been linked to several human disease states, such as McCune-Albright Syndrome, which is the result of elevated cAMP levels. Whereas the targeting of PDEs with drugs and selective inhibitors has been very successful, the AC-inhibiting compounds identified to date are unfavorable for clinical use. Inhibitors may not necessarily bind to and inhibit a given AC directly but instead act on a regulatory pathway such as calmodulin signaling. Theoretically, they also may bind to the G protein, interfere with the AC-G protein stimulatory complex, or regulate a factor of AC transcription. Since more than one AC species is expressed in many human cell types, it is difficult to selectively reduce cAMP levels. Therefore, for an AC inhibitor to be favored as a candidate for drug development, it is likely that the compound should directly bind to and inhibit the AC. This thesis describes my studies on a scaffold of 41 structurally related BCAC compounds, called the BCAC51 scaffold, that was identified in a high-throughput screen (HTS) with Schizosaccharomyces pombe strains transformed with GNAS and either mammalian AC4 or AC7. I carried out a series of experiments to examine whether the compounds bind to and inhibit mammalian ACs directly. The most active compounds were further characterized for potency and specificity against a panel of ACs. Several compounds significantly reduced cAMP production, but it could not be determined if the compounds directly or indirectly altered AC activity. I also cloned and constructed strains expressing the human wild-type AC5 gene and the AC5 R418W mutant, which has shown an increased sensitivity to GNAS. cAMP assays on these strains using various BCAC compounds showed that while most compounds had similar effects on both forms of AC5, BCAC62 was significantly more effective on the wild-type enzyme than on the mutant AC5, although the reason for this is unclear. To test whether the compounds could reduce AC activity in the absence of GNAS (basal activity), a flow cytometry study was carried out using a PKA-repressed GFP reporter. Results suggested that BCAC compounds do reduce basal-AC activity and therefore do not act by binding to and inhibiting GNAS, by interfering with the AC-GNAS stimulatory complex, nor by stimulating PDE. Finally, I developed a molecular genetic screen for mutant alleles of an AC gene that confer compound-resistance. One cycle of the screen is near completion, and the screen provides a foundation for future examination of compound-resistant AC candidates. The results presented in this thesis serve as a basis for further research into members of the BCAC51 compound series being putative direct inhibitors of mammalian ACs.