Journal of medicinal chemistry

Hexosamine template. A platform for modulating gene expression and for sugar-based drug discovery.

PMID 19326913


This study investigates the breadth of cellular responses engendered by short chain fatty acid (SCFA)-hexosamine hybrid molecules, a class of compounds long used in "metabolic glycoengineering" that are now emerging as drug candidates. First, a "mix and match" strategy showed that different SCFA (n-butyrate and acetate) appended to the same core sugar altered biological activity, complementing previous results [Campbell et al. J. Med. Chem. 2008, 51, 8135-8147] where a single type of SCFA elicited distinct responses. Microarray profiling then compared transcriptional responses engendered by regioisomerically modified ManNAc, GlcNAc, and GalNAc analogues in MDA-MB-231 cells. These data, which were validated by qRT-PCR or Western analysis for ID1, TP53, HPSE, NQO1, EGR1, and VEGFA, showed a two-pronged response where a core set of genes was coordinately regulated by all analogues while each analogue simultaneously uniquely regulated a larger number of genes. Finally, AutoDock modeling supported a mechanism where the analogues directly interact with elements of the NF-kappaB pathway. Together, these results establish the SCFA-hexosamine template as a versatile platform for modulating biological activity and developing new therapeutics.