Histone acetyltransferases: Challenges in targeting bi-substrate enzymes

Hannah Wapenaar, Frank J Dekker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Histone acetyltransferases (HATs) are epigenetic enzymes that install acetyl groups onto lysine residues of cellular proteins such as histones, transcription factors, nuclear receptors, and enzymes. HATs have been shown to play a role in diseases ranging from cancer and inflammatory diseases to neurological disorders, both through acetylations of histone proteins and non-histone proteins. Several HAT inhibitors, like bi-substrate inhibitors, natural product derivatives, small molecules, and protein-protein interaction inhibitors, have been developed. Despite their potential, a large gap remains between the biological activity of inhibitors in in vitro studies and their potential use as therapeutic agents. To bridge this gap, new potent HAT inhibitors with improved properties need to be developed. However, several challenges have been encountered in the investigation of HATs and HAT inhibitors that hinder the development of new HAT inhibitors. HATs have been shown to function in complexes consisting of many proteins. These complexes play a role in the activity and target specificity of HATs, which limits the translation of in vitro to in vivo experiments. The current HAT inhibitors suffer from undesired properties like anti-oxidant activity, reactivity, instability, low potency, or lack of selectivity between HAT subtypes and other enzymes. A characteristic feature of HATs is that they are bi-substrate enzymes that catalyze reactions between two substrates: the cofactor acetyl coenzyme A (Ac-CoA) and a lysine-containing substrate. This has important-but frequently overlooked-consequences for the determination of the inhibitory potency of small molecule HAT inhibitors and the reproducibility of enzyme inhibition experiments. We envision that a careful characterization of molecular aspects of HATs and HAT inhibitors, such as the HAT catalytic mechanism and the enzyme kinetics of small molecule HAT inhibitors, will greatly improve the development of potent and selective HAT inhibitors and provide validated starting points for further development towards therapeutic agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59
JournalClinical Epigenetics
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2016

Keywords

  • catalysis
  • drug discovery
  • enzyme inhibitors
  • epigenesis
  • histone acetyltransferases
  • humans
  • protein binding
  • structure-activity relationship
  • substrate specificity
  • drug effects
  • antagonists & inhibitors
  • genetic
  • pharmacology

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