Journal of biomolecular screening

A Fragment-Based Ligand Screen Against Part of a Large Protein Machine: The ND1 Domains of the AAA+ ATPase p97/VCP.

PMID 25690569


The ubiquitous AAA+ ATPase p97 functions as a dynamic molecular machine driving several cellular processes. It is essential in regulating protein homeostasis, and it represents a potential drug target for cancer, particularly when there is a greater reliance on the endoplasmic reticulum-associated protein degradation pathway and ubiquitin-proteasome pathway to degrade an overabundance of secreted proteins. Here, we report a case study for using fragment-based ligand design approaches against this large and dynamic hexamer, which has multiple potential binding sites for small molecules. A screen of a fragment library was conducted by surface plasmon resonance (SPR) and followed up by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), two complementary biophysical techniques. Virtual screening was also carried out to examine possible binding sites for the experimental hits and evaluate the potential utility of fragment docking for this target. Out of this effort, 13 fragments were discovered that showed reversible binding with affinities between 140 µM and 1 mM, binding stoichiometries of 1:1 or 2:1, and good ligand efficiencies. Structural data for fragment-protein interactions were obtained with residue-specific [U-(2)H] (13)CH3-methyl-labeling NMR strategies, and these data were compared to poses from docking. The combination of virtual screening, SPR, and NMR enabled us to find and validate a number of interesting fragment hits and allowed us to gain an understanding of the structural nature of fragment binding.