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Mechanism of Action of VP1-001 in cryAB(R120G)-Associated and Age-Related Cataracts



We previously identified an oxysterol, VP1-001 (also known as compound 29), that partially restores the transparency of lenses with cataracts. To understand the mechanism of VP1-001, we tested the ability of its enantiomer, ent-VP1-001, to bind and stabilize αB-crystallin (cryAB) in vitro and to produce a similar therapeutic effect in cryAB(R120G) mutant and aged wild-type mice with cataracts. VP1-001 and ent-VP1-001 have identical physicochemical properties. These experiments are designed to critically evaluate whether stereoselective binding to cryAB is required for activity.


We compared the binding of VP1-001 and ent-VP1-001 to cryAB using in silico docking, differential scanning fluorimetry (DSF), and microscale thermophoresis (MST). Compounds were delivered by six topical administrations to mouse eyes over 2 weeks, and the effects on cataracts and lens refractive measures in vivo were examined. Additionally, lens epithelial and fiber cell morphologies were assessed via transmission electron microscopy.


Docking studies suggested greater binding of VP1-001 into a deep groove in the cryAB dimer compared with ent-VP1-001. Consistent with this prediction, DSF and MST experiments showed that VP1-001 bound cryAB, whereas ent-VP1-001 did not. Accordingly, topical treatment of lenses with ent-VP1-001 had no effect, whereas VP1-001 produced a statistically significant improvement in lens clarity and favorable changes in lens morphology.


The ability of VP1-001 to bind native cryAB dimers is important for its ability to reverse lens opacity in mouse models of cataracts.

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