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This letter describes the further chemical optimization of VU0424238 (auglurant), an mGlu NAM clinical candidate that failed in non-human primate (NHP) 28 day toxicology due to accumulation of a species-specific aldehyde oxidase (AO) metabolite of the pyrimidine head group. Here, we excised the pyrimidine moiety, identified the minimum pharmacophore, and then developed a new series of saturated ether head groups that ablated any AO contribution to metabolism. Putative back-up compounds in this novel series provided increased sp character, uniform CYP-mediated metabolism across species, good functional potency and high CNS penetration. Key to the optimization was a combination of matrix and iterative libraries that allowed rapid surveillance of multiple domains of the allosteric ligand.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Ca/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) and metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGlu) are critical signaling molecules in synaptic plasticity and learning/memory. Here, we demonstrate that mGlu is present in CaMKII complexes isolated from mouse forebrain. Further in vitro characterization showed that the membrane-proximal region of the C-terminal domain (CTD) of mGlu directly interacts with purified Thr286-autophosphorylated (activated) CaMKII However, the binding of CaMKII to this CTD fragment is reduced by the addition of excess Ca/calmodulin or by additional CaMKII autophosphorylation at non-Thr286 sites. Furthermore, in vitro binding of CaMKII is dependent on a tribasic residue motif Lys-Arg-Arg (KRR) at residues 866-868 of the mGlu-CTD, and mutation of this motif decreases the coimmunoprecipitation of CaMKII with full-length mGlu expressed in heterologous cells by about 50%. The KRR motif is required for two novel functional effects of coexpressing constitutively active CaMKII with mGlu in heterologous cells. First, cell-surface biotinylation studies showed that CaMKII increases the surface expression of mGlu Second, using Ca fluorimetry and single-cell Ca imaging, we found that CaMKII reduces the initial peak of mGlu-mediated Ca mobilization by about 25% while doubling the relative duration of the Ca signal. These findings provide new insights into the physical and functional coupling of these key regulators of postsynaptic signaling.
Copyright © 2018 by The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.
Based on previous work that established fused heterocycles as viable alternatives for the picolinamide core of our lead series of mGlu negative allosteric modulators (NAMs), we designed a novel series of 6-(pyrimidin-5-ylmethyl)quinoline-8-carboxamide mGlu NAMs. These new quinoline derivatives also contained carbon linkers as replacements for the diaryl ether oxygen atom common to our previously published chemotypes. Compounds were evaluated in a cell-based functional mGlu assay, and an exemplar analog 27 was >60-fold selective versus the other seven mGlu receptors. Selected compounds were also studied in metabolic stability assays in rat and human S9 hepatic fractions and exhibited a mixture of P450- and non-P450-mediated metabolism.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Glutamatergic transmission in the nucleus accumbens shell (NAcSh) is a substrate for reward learning and motivation. Metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors regulate NAcSh synaptic strength by inducing long-term depression (LTD). Inputs from prefrontal cortex (PFC) and medio-dorsal thalamus (MDT) drive opposing motivated behaviors yet mGlu receptor regulation of these synapses is unexplored. We examined Group I mGlu receptor regulation of PFC and MDT glutamatergic synapses onto specific populations of NAc medium spiny neurons (MSNs) using D1tdTom BAC transgenic mice and optogenetics. Synaptically evoked long-term depression (LTD) at MDT-NAcSh synapses required mGlu but not mGlu and was specific for D1(+) MSNs, whereas PFC LTD was expressed at both D1(+) and D1(-) MSNs and required mGlu but not mGlu. Two weeks after five daily non-contingent cocaine exposures (15 mg/kg), LTD was attenuated at MDT-D1(+) synapses but was rescued by the mGlu5-positive allosteric modulator (PAM) VU0409551. These results highlight unique plasticity mechanisms regulating specific NAcSh synapses.
Based on a hypothesis that an intramolecular hydrogen bond was present in our lead series of picolinamide mGlu NAMs, we reasoned that an inactive nicotinamide series could be modified through introduction of a fused heterocyclic core to generate potent mGlu NAMs. In this Letter, we describe the synthesis and evaluation of compounds that demonstrate the viability of that approach. Selected analogs were profiled in a variety of in vitro assays, and two compounds were evaluated in rat pharmacokinetic studies and a mouse model of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Ancillary pharmacology screening revealed that members of this series exhibited moderate inhibition of the dopamine transporter (DAT), and SAR was developed that expanded the selectivity for mGlu versus DAT.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Selective potentiation of the mGlu subtype of metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptor using positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) has robust cognition-enhancing effects in rodent models that are relevant for schizophrenia. Until recently, these effects were thought to be due to potentiation of mGlu-induced modulation of NMDA receptor (NMDAR) currents and NMDAR-dependent synaptic plasticity. However, "biased" mGlu PAMs that do not potentiate mGlu effects on NMDAR currents show efficacy that is similar to that of prototypical mGlu PAMs, suggesting that NMDAR-independent mechanisms must be involved in these actions. We now report that synaptic activation of mGlu is required for a form of long-term depression (mLTD) in mouse prefrontal cortex (PFC) that is induced by activation of M muscarinic acetylcholine (mAChR) receptors, which was previously thought to be independent of mGlu activation. Interestingly, a biased mGlu PAM, VU0409551, that does not potentiate mGlu modulation of NMDAR currents, potentiated induction of mLTD. Furthermore, coactivation of mGlu and M receptors increased GABA-dependent inhibitory tone in the PFC pyramidal neurons, which likely contributes to the observed mLTD. Finally, systemic administration of the biased mGlu PAM reversed deficits in mLTD and associated cognitive deficits in a model of cortical disruption caused by repeated phencyclidine exposure that is relevant for schizophrenia and was previously shown to be responsive to selective M muscarinic receptor PAMs. These studies provide exciting new insights into a novel mechanism by which mGlu PAMs can reverse deficits in PFC function and cognition that is independent of modulation of NMDAR currents.
Preclinical evidence in support of the potential utility of mGlu NAMs for the treatment of a variety of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders is extensive, and multiple such molecules have entered clinical trials. Despite some promising results from clinical studies, no small molecule mGlu NAM has yet to reach market. Here we present the discovery and evaluation of N-(5-fluoropyridin-2-yl)-6-methyl-4-(pyrimidin-5-yloxy)picolinamide (27, VU0424238), a compound selected for clinical evaluation. Compound 27 is more than 900-fold selective for mGlu versus the other mGlu receptors, and binding studies established a K value of 4.4 nM at a known allosteric binding site. Compound 27 had a clearance of 19.3 and 15.5 mL/min/kg in rats and cynomolgus monkeys, respectively. Imaging studies using a known mGlu PET ligand demonstrated 50% receptor occupancy at an oral dose of 0.8 mg/kg in rats and an intravenous dose of 0.06 mg/kg in baboons.
BACKGROUND - Development of treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is hampered by a lack of mechanistic understanding about this prevalent neuropsychiatric condition. Although circuit changes such as elevated frontostriatal activity are linked to OCD, the underlying molecular signaling that drives OCD-related behaviors remains largely unknown. Here, we examine the significance of type 5 metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR5s) for behavioral and circuit abnormalities relevant to OCD.
METHODS - Sapap3 knockout (KO) mice treated acutely with an mGluR5 antagonist were evaluated for OCD-relevant phenotypes of self-grooming, anxiety-like behaviors, and increased striatal activity. The role of mGluR5 in the striatal circuit abnormalities of Sapap3 KO mice was further explored using two-photon calcium imaging to monitor striatal output from the direct and indirect pathways. A contribution of constitutive signaling to increased striatal mGluR5 activity in Sapap3 KO mice was investigated using pharmacologic and biochemical approaches. Finally, sufficiency of mGluR5 to drive OCD-like behavior in wild-type mice was tested by potentiating mGluR5 with a positive allosteric modulator.
RESULTS - Excessive mGluR5 signaling underlies OCD-like behaviors and striatal circuit abnormalities in Sapap3 KO mice. Accordingly, enhancing mGluR5 activity acutely recapitulates these behavioral phenotypes in wild-type mice. In Sapap3 KO mice, elevated mGluR5 signaling is associated with constitutively active receptors and increased and imbalanced striatal output that is acutely corrected by antagonizing striatal mGluR5.
CONCLUSIONS - These findings demonstrate a causal role for increased mGluR5 signaling in driving striatal output abnormalities and behaviors with relevance to OCD and show the tractability of acute mGluR5 inhibition to remedy circuit and behavioral abnormalities.
Copyright © 2016 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Allosteric modulators, that exhibit no intrinsic agonist activity, offer the advantage of spatial and temporal fine-tuning of endogenous agonist activity, allowing the potential for increased selectivity, reduced adverse effects and improved clinical outcomes. Some allosteric ligands can differentially activate and/or modulate distinct signaling pathways arising from the same receptor, phenomena referred to as 'biased agonism' and 'biased modulation'. Emerging evidence for CNS disorders with glutamatergic dysfunction suggests the metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 (mGlu) is a promising target. Current mGlu allosteric modulators have largely been classified based on modulation of intracellular calcium (iCa) responses to orthosteric agonists alone. We assessed eight mGlu allosteric modulators previously classified as mGlu PAMs or PAM-agonists representing four distinct chemotypes across multiple measures of receptor activity, to explore their potential for engendering biased agonism and/or modulation. Relative to the reference orthosteric agonist, DHPG, the eight allosteric ligands exhibited distinct biased agonism fingerprints for iCa mobilization, IP accumulation and ERK1/2 phosphorylation in HEK293A cells stably expressing mGlu and in cortical neuron cultures. VU0424465, DPFE and VU0409551 displayed the most disparate biased signaling fingerprints in both HEK293A cells and cortical neurons that may account for the marked differences observed previously for these ligands in vivo. Select mGlu allosteric ligands also showed 'probe dependence' with respect to their cooperativity with different orthosteric agonists, as well as biased modulation for the magnitude of positive cooperativity observed. Unappreciated biased agonism and modulation may contribute to unanticipated effects (both therapeutic and adverse) when translating from recombinant systems to preclinical models. This article is part of the Special Issue entitled 'Metabotropic Glutamate Receptors, 5 years on'.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) represent the largest class of current drug targets. In particular, small-molecule allosteric modulators offer substantial potential for selectively "tuning" GPCR activity. However, there remains a critical need for experimental strategies that unambiguously determine direct allosteric ligand-GPCR interactions, to facilitate both chemical biology studies and rational structure-based drug design. We now report the development and use of first-in-class clickable allosteric photoprobes for a GPCR based on metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGlu5) negative allosteric modulator (NAM) chemotypes. Select acetylenic mGlu5 NAM lead compounds were rationally modified to contain either a benzophenone or an aryl azide as a photoreactive functional group, enabling irreversible covalent attachment to mGlu5 via photoactivation. Additionally, a terminal alkyne or an aliphatic azide was incorporated as a click chemistry handle, allowing chemoselective attachment of fluorescent moieties to the irreversibly mGlu5-bound probe via tandem photoaffinity labeling-bioorthogonal conjugation. These clickable photoprobes retained submicromolar affinity for mGlu5 and negative cooperativity with glutamate, interacted with the "common allosteric-binding site," displayed slow binding kinetics, and could irreversibly label mGlu5 following UV exposure. We depleted the number of functional mGlu5 receptors using an irreversibly bound NAM to elucidate and delineate orthosteric agonist affinity and efficacy. Finally, successful conjugation of fluorescent dyes via click chemistry was demonstrated for each photoprobe. In the future, these clickable photoprobes are expected to aid our understanding of the structural basis of mGlu5 allosteric modulation. Furthermore, tandem photoaffinity labeling-bioorthogonal conjugation is expected to be a broadly applicable experimental strategy across the entire GPCR superfamily.