Analysis of GPCR properties of Frizzled receptors and establishment of the "in vitro" platform for screening of Frizzled agonists/antagonists as potential therapeutic agents


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Analysis of GPCR properties of Frizzled receptors and establishment of the "in vitro" platform for screening of Frizzled agonists/antagonists as potential therapeutic agents
Katanaev  V.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
Faculté de biologie et de médecineUniversité de LausanneUNIL - BugnonRue du Bugnon 21 - bureau 4111CH-1015 LausanneSUISSE
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Morphogens of the Wnt protein family are the secreted lipoglycoprotein ligands which initiate several pathways heavily involved in the coordination of various developmental stages of organisms in the majority of animal species. Deregulation of these pathways in the adult leads to formation and sustaining of multiple types of cancer. The latter notion is reinforced by the fact that the very discovery of the first Wnt ligand was due to its role as the causative factor of carcinogenic transformation (Nusse and Varmus, 1982). Nowadays our knowledge on Wnt signaling has "moved with the times" and these pathways were identified to be often crucial for tumor formation, its interactions with the microenvironment, and promotion of the metastases (Huang and Du, 2008; Zerlin et al., 2008; Jessen, 2009). Thus the relevance of the pathway as the target for drug development has further increased in the light of modern paradigms of the complex cancer treatments which target also spreading and growth- promoting factors of tumors by specific and highly efficient substances (Pavet et al., 2010).
Presently the field of the Wnt-targeting drug research is almost solely dominated by assays based on transcriptional activation induced by the signaling. This approach resulted in development of a number of promising substances (Lee et al., 2011). Despite its effectiveness, the method nevertheless suffers from several drawbacks. Among the major ones is the fact that this approach is prone to identify compounds targeting rather downstream effectors of the pathway, which are indiscriminately used by all the subtypes of the Wnt signaling. Additionally, proteins which are involved in several signaling cascades and not just the Wnt pathway turn out as targets of the new compounds. These issues increase risks of side effects due to off-target interactions and blockade of the pathway in healthy cells.
In the present work we put forward a novel biochemical approach for drug development on the Wnt pathway. It targets Frizzleds (Fzs) - a family of 7-transmbembrane proteins which serve as receptors for Wnt ligands. They offer unique properties for the development of highly specific and effective drugs as they control all branches of the Wnt signaling. Recent advances in the understanding of the roles of heterotrimeric G proteins downstream from Fzs (Katanaev et al., 2005; Liu et al., 2005; Jernigan et al., 2010) suggest application of enzymatic properties of these effectors to monitor the receptor-mediated events. We have applied this knowledge in practice and established a specific and efficient method based on utilization of a novel high-throughput format of the GTP-binding assay to follow the activation of Fzs.
This type of assay is a robust and well-established technology for the research and screenings on the GPCRs (Harrison and Traynor, 2003). The conventional method of detection involves the radioactively labeled non-hydrolysable GTP analog [35S]GTPyS. Its application in the large-scale screenings is however problematic which promoted development of the novel non-radioactive GTP analog GTP-Eu. The new molecule employs phenomenon of the time-resolved fluorescence to provide sensitivity comparable to the conventional radioactive substance. Initially GTP-Eu was tested only in one of many possible types of GTP-binding assays (Frang et al., 2003). In the present work we expand these limits by demonstrating the general comparability of the novel label with the radioactive method in various types of assays. We provide a biochemical characterization of GTP-Eu interactions with heterotrimeric and small GTPases and a comparative analysis of the behavior of the new label in the assays involving heterotrimeric G protein effectors.
These developments in the GTP-binding assay were then applied to monitor G protein activation by the Fz receptors. The data obtained in mammalian cultured cell lines provides for the first time an unambiguous biochemical proof for direct coupling of Fzs with G proteins. The specificity of this interaction has been confirmed by the experiments with the antagonists of Fz and by the pertussis toxin-mediated deactivation. Additionally we have identified the specificity of Wnt3a towards several members of the Fz family and analyzed the properties of human Fz-1 which was found to be the receptor coupled to the Gi/o family of G proteins.
Another process playing significant role in the functioning of every GPCR is endocytosis. This phenomenon can also be employed for drug screenings on GPCRs (Bickle, 2010). In the present work we have demonstrated that Drosophila Fz receptors are involved in an unusual for many GPCRs manifestation of the receptor-mediated internalization. Through combination of biochemical approaches and studies on Drosophila as the model organism we have shown that direct interactions of the Fzs and the α-subunit of the heterotrimeric G protein Go with the small GTPase Rab5 regulate internalization of the receptor in early endosomes. We provide data uncovering the decisive role of this self-promoted endocytosis in formation of a proper signaling output in the canonical as well as planar cell polarity (PCP) pathways regulated by Fz.
The results of this work thus establish a platform for the high-throughput screening to identify substances active in the cancer-related Wnt pathways. This methodology has been adjusted and applied to provide the important insights in Fz functioning and will be instrumental for further investigations on the Wnt-mediated pathways.
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30/08/2012 12:43
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20/08/2019 14:36
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