Protein interacting with C kinase (PICK1) is a scaffolding protein that is present in dendritic spines and interacts with a wide array of proteins through its PDZ domain. The best understood function of PICK1 is regulation of trafficking of AMPA receptors at neuronal synapses via its specific interaction with the AMPA GluA2 subunit. Disrupting the PICK1-GluA2 interaction has been shown to alter synaptic plasticity, a molecular mechanism of learning and memory. Lack of potent, selective inhibitors of the PICK1 PDZ domain has hindered efforts at exploring the PICK1-GluA2 interaction as a therapeutic target for neurological diseases. Here, we report the discovery of PICK1 small molecule inhibitors using a structure-based drug design strategy. The inhibitors stabilized surface GluA2, reduced Aβ-induced rise in intracellular calcium concentrations in cultured neurons, and blocked long term depression in brain slices. These findings demonstrate that it is possible to identify potent, selective PICK1-GluA2 inhibitors which may prove useful for treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.
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