Identification of Harmine and β-Carboline Analogs from a High-Throughput Screen of an Approved Drug Collection; Profiling as Differential Inhibitors of DYRK1A and Monoamine Oxidase A and for in Vitro and in Vivo Anti-Cancer Studies

Tarpley, M.; Oladapo, H. O.; Strepay, D.; Caligan, T. B.; Chdid, L.; Shehata, H.; Roques, J. R.; Thomas, R.; Laudeman, C. P.; Onyenwoke, R. U.; Darr, D. B.; Williams, K. P.
European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 162, 105821 (2021)

DYRK1A (dual-specificity tyrosine phosphorylation-regulated kinase 1a) is highly expressed in glioma, an aggressive brain tumor, and has been proposed as a therapeutic target for cancer. In the current study, we have used an optimized and validated time-resolved fluorescence energy transfer (TR-FRET)-based DYRK1A assay for high-throughput screening (HTS) in 384-well format. A small-scale screen of the FDA-approved Prestwick drug collection identified the β-carboline, harmine, and four related analogs as DYRK1A inhibitors. Hits were confirmed by dose response and in an orthogonal DYRK1A assay. Harmine’s potential therapeutic use has been hampered by its potent “off-target” activity for monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) which impacts multiple nervous system targets. Selectivity profiling of harmine and a broader collection of analogs allowed us to map some divergent SAR (structure-activity relationships) for the DYRK1A and MAO-A activities. The panel of harmine analogs had varying activities invitroin glioblastoma (GBM) cell lines when tested for anti-proliferative effects using a high content imaging assay. In particular, of the identified analogs, harmol was found to have the best selectivity for DYRK1A over MAO-A and, when tested in a glioma tumor xenograft model, harmol demonstrated a better therapeutic window compared to harmine.

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