Design and Application of Synthetic Receptors for Recognition of Methylated Lysine and Supramolecular Affinity Labeling Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Gober, Isaiah
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Chemistry
  • This dissertation involves the design and synthesis of new synthetic receptors and their application in the molecular recognition of methylated lysine and their use as tools for chemical biology. The dissertation is divided into four parts. The first section focuses on the development of a novel labeling method that is based on ligand-directed affinity labeling principles. In this labeling method, a synthetic receptor that binds to trimethyl lysine (Kme3) is attached through a linker to an electrophilic tag group that can react with a nucleophilic amine in a histone peptide. This affinity labeling probe, which we called CX4-ONBD, is equipped with an electrophilic tag that allows for turn-on fluorescence labeling of Kme3 histone peitdes. We show that the probe gives a pronounced turn-on fluorescence response when it is incubated with a histone peptide that contains Kme3 and a nearby reactive lysine. This probe also displays >5-fold selectivity in covalent labeling over an unmethylated lysine peptide. This represents the first time a synthetic receptor has been used for affinity labeling purposes, and it also expands on the chemical toolkit that is available for sensing PTMs like lysine methylation. In the second section, the supramolecular affinity labeling method that was optimized using CX4-ONBD was applied to the development of a real-time assay for measuring enzymatic activity. More specifically, the probe was used to create a turn-on fluorescence assay for histone deacetylase (HDAC) activity and for inhibitor screening and IC50 determination. Most commercial kits for HDAC activity have limited substrate scope, and other common methods used for characterizing enzymatic activity often require chromatographic separation and are therefore not high-throughput. This small molecule receptor-mediated affinity labeling strategy allowed for facile readout of HDAC activity and inhibition. Overall, this application of supramolecular affinity labeling expands on the possible ways for detecting PTMs and may find use in the development of new assays for enzymes that lack robust methods for measuring their activity. The third section explores the development of new small molecule receptors capable of selectively binding hydrophilic guests in water, such as the lower methylation states of lysine. We identified a receptor, A2I, that has improved binding affinity and selectivity for dimethyllysine (Kme2). The receptor was discovered and synthesized by using dynamic combinatorial chemistry (DCC) to redesign a small molecule receptor (A2B) that preferentially binds trimethyllysine (Kme3). Incorporating a biphenyl monomer with ortho-di-substituted carboxylates into the receptor lead to the formation of a salt bridge interaction with Kme2. These favorable electrostatic and hydrogen bonding interactions produced a receptor with 32-fold tighter binding to Kme2, which is the highest affinity synthetic receptor for Kme2 in the context of a peptide that has been reported. This work provides insight into effective strategies for binding hydrophilic, cationic guests in water and is an encouraging result toward a synthetic receptor that selectively binds Kme2 over other methylation states of lysine. In the final section, a small molecule receptor for Kme3 (A2B) was redesigned using DCC to incorporate either aromatic or acidic amino acids into the receptor. We proposed that the incorporation of amino acids could introduce additional non-covalent interactions (such as cation-π, electrostatic, and hydrogen bonding) with a guest bound inside the pocket of the receptor. However, selective non-covalent interactions between the amino acid side chain on the modified receptor and the bound methylated lysine guest could not be achieved. This is most likely due to the conformational flexibility of the amino acid-functionalized receptors. Furthermore, attaching amino acids to the receptor seemed to increase non-specific electrostatic interactions, resulting in tighter binding to the unmethylated lysine peptide (compared to A2B). Ultimately, this highlights the importance of incorporating monomers with less conformational flexibility that can rigidly place functional groups into the binding pocket.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Waters, Marcey
  • Johnson, Jeffrey
  • Leibfarth, Frank
  • Brustad, Eric
  • Lawrence, David
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2017

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