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Overcoming Drug Resistance through the Development of Selective Inhibitors of UDP-Glucuronosyltransferase Enzymes.

Osborne MJ, Coutinho de Oliveira L, Volpon L, Zahreddine HA, Borden KLB

Institute of Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Université de Montréal, Pavilion Marcelle-Coutu, Chemin Polytechnique, Montreal, QC, Canada.

Drug resistance is a major cause of cancer-related mortality. Glucuronidation of drugs via elevation of UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGT1As) correlates with clinical resistance. The nine UGT1A family members have broad substrate specificities attributed to their variable N-terminal domains and share a common C-terminal domain. Development of UGT1As as pharmacological targets has been hampered by toxicity of pan-UGT inhibitors and by difficulty in isolating pure N-terminal domains or full-length proteins. Here, we developed a strategy to target selected UGT1As which exploited the biochemical tractability of the C-domain and its ability to allosterically communicate with the catalytic site. By combining NMR fragment screening with in vitro glucuronidation assays, we identified inhibitors selective for UGT1A4. Significantly, these compounds selectively restored sensitivity in resistant cancer cells only for substrates of the targeted UGT1A. This strategy represents a crucial first step toward developing compounds to overcome unwanted glucuronidation thereby reversing resistance in patients.

J. Mol. Biol. 2019;431(2):258-272.

Pubmed ID: 30428301

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