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Examination of SOD1 aggregation modulators and their effect on SOD1 enzymatic activity as a proxy for potential toxicity


Small-molecule inhibitors of abnormal protein self-assembly are promising candidates for developing therapy against proteinopathies. Such compounds have been examined primarily as inhibitors of amyloid β-protein (Aβ), whereas testing of inhibitors of other amyloidogenic proteins has lagged behind. An important issue with screening compound libraries is that although an inhibitor suitable for therapy must be both effective and nontoxic, typical screening focuses on efficacy, whereas safety typically is tested at a later stage using cells and/or animals. In addition, typical thioflavin T (ThT)-fluorescence-based screens use the final fluorescence value as a readout, potentially missing important kinetic information. Here, we examined potential inhibitors of superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) using ThT-fluorescence including the different phases of fluorescence change and added a parallel screen of SOD1 activity as a potential proxy for compound toxicity. Some compounds previously reported to inhibit other amyloidogenic proteins also inhibited SOD1 aggregation at low micromolar concentrations, whereas others were ineffective. Analysis of the lag phase and exponential slope added important information that could help exclude false-positive or false-negative results. SOD1 was highly resistant to inhibition of its activity, and therefore, did not have the necessary sensitivity to serve as a proxy for examining potential toxicity.

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