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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Development of fragment-based n-FABS NMR screening applied to the membrane enzyme FAAH.

  • Author(s): Lambruschini, Chiara
  • Veronesi, Marina
  • Romeo, Elisa
  • Garau, Gianpiero
  • Bandiera, Tiziano
  • Piomelli, Daniele
  • Scarpelli, Rita
  • Dalvit, Claudio
  • et al.

Despite the recognized importance of membrane proteins as pharmaceutical targets, the reliable identification of fragment hits that are able to bind these proteins is still a major challenge. Among different ¹⁹F NMR spectroscopic methods, n-fluorine atoms for biochemical screening (n-FABS) is a highly sensitive technique that has been used efficiently for fragment screening, but its application for membrane enzymes has not been reported yet. Herein, we present the first successful application of n-FABS to the discovery of novel fragment hits, targeting the membrane-bound enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), using a library of fluorinated fragments generated based on the different local environment of fluorine concept. The use of the recombinant fusion protein MBP-FAAH and the design of compound 11 as a suitable novel fluorinated substrate analogue allowed n-FABS screening to be efficiently performed using a very small amount of enzyme. Notably, we have identified 19 novel fragment hits that inhibit FAAH with a median effective concentration (IC₅₀) in the low mM-μM range. To the best of our knowledge, these results represent the first application of a ¹⁹F NMR fragment-based functional assay to a membrane protein.

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