Vaccinia DNA topoisomerase (vTopo) is a prototypic pox virus family topoisomerase that shares extensive structural and mechanistic properties with the human type IB enzyme (hTopo) and is important for viral replication. Despite their far-reaching similarities, vTopo and hTopo have surprisingly distinct pharmacological properties. To further exploit these differences, we have developed recently the first high-throughput screen for vTopo, which has allowed rapid screening of a 1990-member small-molecule library for inhibitors. Using this approach, 21 compounds were identified with IC90 values less than 10 μM, and 19 of these were also found to inhibit DNA supercoil relaxation by vTopo. Four of the most potent compounds were completely characterized and are structurally novel topo I inhibitors with efficacies at nanomolar concentrations. These inhibitors were highly specific for vTopo, showing no inhibition of the human enzyme even at 500- to 2000-fold greater concentrations. We describe a battery of efficient experiments to characterize the unique mechanisms of these vTopo inhibitors and discuss the surprising promiscuity of this enzyme to inhibition by structurally diverse small molecules.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine