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Photoaffinity Labeling Studies on a Promoter of Dendritic Spine Formation


The small molecule BTA-EG4 has been shown to be a promoter of dendritic spine formation. The mechanism behind this phenomenon, however, is not well understood. The work in this dissertation is motivated by this gap in knowledge.

The first part of this dissertation focuses on photoaffinity labeling studies to identify the cellular targets of BTA-EG4. Chapter 1 provides a summary of Alzheimer’s disease, the rational design of BTA-EG4, and methods to determine targets of small molecules. In Chapter 2, the synthesis of a BTA-EG4-based photoaffinity labeling probe and photodegradation studies are presented. Kinetic studies demonstrate that the probe photolyzes rapidly under UV light. In Chapter 3, photoaffinity labeling studies and subsequent protein identification experiments are reported. Competition experiments with the photoaffinity labeling probe and BTA-EG4 demonstrate that the probe labels a 55-kDa protein specifically. Tandem mass spectrometry revealed that the 55-kDa protein is the actin binding protein fascin 1.

The second part of this dissertation focuses on the major protein identified from photoaffinity labeling studies, fascin 1. Chapter 4 provides a brief survey of the structure and function of fascin 1. In Chapter 5, characterizations of the interaction between BTA-EG4 and fascin 1 are reported. Isothermal titration calorimetry confirms the physical binding between fascin 1 and BTA-EG6, a BTA-EG4 analog. Slow speed sedimentation assays reveal that BTA-EG4 does not affect the actin-bundling activity of fascin 1. However, GST pull-down experiments show that BTA-EG4 inhibits the binding of fascin 1 with the GTPase Rab35. In addition, this work demonstrates that BTA-EG4 may be mechanistically distinct from the known fascin inhibitor G2.

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