Structure-guided screening strategy combining surface plasmon resonance with nuclear magnetic resonance for identification of small-molecule Argonaute 2 inhibitors
Argonaute (AGO) proteins are the key component of the RNA interference machinery that suppresses gene expression by forming an RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) with microRNAs (miRNAs). Each miRNA is involved in various cellular processes, such as development, differentiation, tumorigenesis, and viral infection. Thus, molecules that regulate miRNA function are expected to have therapeutic potential. In addition, the biogenesis of miRNA is a multistep process involving various proteins,
... ous proteins, although the complete pathway remains to be elucidated. Therefore, identification of molecules that can specifically modulate each step will help understand the mechanism of gene suppression. To date, several AGO2 inhibitors have been identified. However, these molecules were identified through a single screening method, and no studies have specifically evaluated a combinatorial strategy. Here, we demonstrated a combinatorial screening (SCR) approach comprising an in silico molecular docking study, surface plasmon resonance (SPR) analysis, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis, focusing on the strong binding between the 5'-terminal phosphate of RNA and the AGO2 middle (MID) domain. By combining SPR and NMR, we identified binding modes of amino acid residues binding to AGO2. First, using a large chemical library (over 6,000,000 compounds), 171 compounds with acidic functional groups were screened using in silico SCR. Next, we constructed an SPR inhibition system that could analyze only the 5'-terminal binding site of RNA, and nine molecules that strongly bound to the AGO2 MID domain were selected. Finally, using NMR, three molecules that bound to the desired site were identified. The RISC inhibitory ability of the "hit" compounds was analyzed in human cell lysate, and all three hit compounds strongly inhibited the binding between double-stranded RNA and AGO2.