Publications by authors named "Mary Ellen Digan"

7 Publications

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A NMDA-receptor calcium influx assay sensitive to stimulation by glutamate and glycine/D-serine.

Sci Rep 2017 09 14;7(1):11608. Epub 2017 Sep 14.

Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research, Chemical Biology and Therapeutics, 250 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA.

N-methyl-D-aspartate-receptors (NMDARs) are ionotropic glutamate receptors that function in synaptic transmission, plasticity and cognition. Malfunction of NMDARs has been implicated in a variety of nervous system disorders, making them attractive therapeutic targets. Overexpression of functional NMDAR in non-neuronal cells results in cell death by excitotoxicity, hindering the development of cell-based assays for NMDAR drug discovery. Here we report a plate-based, high-throughput approach to study NMDAR function. Our assay enables the functional study of NMDARs with different subunit composition after activation by glycine/D-serine or glutamate and hence presents the first plate-based, high throughput assay that allows for the measurement of NMDAR function in glycine/D-serine and/or glutamate sensitive modes. This allows to investigate the effect of small molecule modulators on the activation of NMDARs at different concentrations or combinations of the co-ligands. The reported assay system faithfully replicates the pharmacology of the receptor in response to known agonists, antagonists, positive and negative allosteric modulators, as well as the receptor's sensitivity to magnesium and zinc. We believe that the ability to study the biology of NMDARs rapidly and in large scale screens will enable the identification of novel therapeutics whose discovery has otherwise been hindered by the limitations of existing cell based approaches.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-11947-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5599507PMC
September 2017

Metabolic Enzyme Sulfotransferase 1A1 Is the Trigger for N-Benzyl Indole Carbinol Tumor Growth Suppression.

Chem Biol 2015 Sep 10;22(9):1228-37. Epub 2015 Sep 10.

Department of Developmental and Molecular Pathways, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, 250 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Electronic address:

In an attempt to identify novel therapeutics and mechanisms to differentially kill tumor cells using phenotypic screening, we identified N-benzyl indole carbinols (N-BICs), synthetic analogs of the natural product indole-3-carbinol (I3C). To understand the mode of action for the molecules we employed Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia viability profiling and correlative informatics analysis to identify and ultimately confirm the phase II metabolic enzyme sulfotransferase 1A1 (SULT1A1) as the essential factor for compound selectivity. Further studies demonstrate that SULT1A1 activates the N-BICs by rendering the compounds strong electrophiles which can alkylate cellular proteins and thereby induce cell death. This study demonstrates that the selectivity profile for N-BICs is through conversion by SULT1A1 from an inactive prodrug to an active species that induces cell death and tumor suppression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chembiol.2015.06.025DOI Listing
September 2015

Selective VPS34 inhibitor blocks autophagy and uncovers a role for NCOA4 in ferritin degradation and iron homeostasis in vivo.

Nat Cell Biol 2014 Nov 19;16(11):1069-79. Epub 2014 Oct 19.

Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, 250 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.

Cells rely on autophagy to clear misfolded proteins and damaged organelles to maintain cellular homeostasis. In this study we use the new autophagy inhibitor PIK-III to screen for autophagy substrates. PIK-III is a selective inhibitor of VPS34 that binds a unique hydrophobic pocket not present in related kinases such as PI(3)Kα. PIK-III acutely inhibits autophagy and de novo lipidation of LC3, and leads to the stabilization of autophagy substrates. By performing ubiquitin-affinity proteomics on PIK-III-treated cells we identified substrates including NCOA4, which accumulates in ATG7-deficient cells and co-localizes with autolysosomes. NCOA4 directly binds ferritin heavy chain-1 (FTH1) to target the iron-binding ferritin complex with a relative molecular mass of 450,000 to autolysosomes following starvation or iron depletion. Interestingly, Ncoa4(-/-) mice exhibit a profound accumulation of iron in splenic macrophages, which are critical for the reutilization of iron from engulfed red blood cells. Taken together, the results of this study provide a new mechanism for selective autophagy of ferritin and reveal a previously unappreciated role for autophagy and NCOA4 in the control of iron homeostasis in vivo.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncb3053DOI Listing
November 2014

The tyrosine phosphatase PTPN14 is a negative regulator of YAP activity.

PLoS One 2013 16;8(4):e61916. Epub 2013 Apr 16.

Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Disease Area Oncology, Basel, Switzerland.

The Hippo (Hpo) pathway is a novel signaling pathway that controls organ size in Drosophila and mammals and is deregulated in a variety of human cancers. It consists of a set of kinases that, through a number of phosphorylation events, inactivate YAP, a transcriptional co-activator that controls cellular proliferation and apoptosis. We have identified PTPN14 as a YAP-binding protein that negatively regulates YAP activity by controlling its localization. Mechanistically, we find that the interaction of ectopic YAP with PTPN14 can be mediated by the respective WW and PPxY motifs. However, the PTPN14 PPxY motif and phosphatase activity appear to be dispensable for the negative regulation of endogenous YAP, likely suggesting more complex mechanisms of interaction and modulation. Finally, we demonstrate that PTPN14 downregulation can phenocopy YAP activation in mammary epithelial cells and synergize with YAP to induce oncogenic transformation.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0061916PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3628344PMC
November 2013

Cardiac ion channel safety profiling on the IonWorks Quattro automated patch clamp system.

Assay Drug Dev Technol 2010 Dec 6;8(6):766-80. Epub 2010 Dec 6.

Center for Proteomic Chemistry, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Sciences Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.

The normal electrophysiologic behavior of the heart is determined by the integrated activity of specific cardiac ionic currents. Mutations in genes encoding the molecular components of individual cardiac ion currents have been shown to result in multiple cardiac arrhythmia syndromes. Presently, 12 genes associated with inherited long QT syndrome (LQTS) have been identified, and the most common mutations are in the hKCNQ1 (LQT1, Jervell and Lange-Nielson syndrome), hKCNH2 (LQT2), and hSCN5A (LQT3, Brugada syndrome) genes. Several drugs have been withdrawn from the market or received black box labeling due to clinical cases of QT interval prolongation, ventricular arrhythmias, and sudden death. Other drugs have been denied regulatory approval owing to their potential for QT interval prolongation. Further, off-target activity of drugs on cardiac ion channels has been shown to be associated with increased mortality in patients with underlying cardiovascular diseases. Since clinical arrhythmia risk is a major cause for compound termination, preclinical profiling for off-target cardiac ion channel interactions early in the drug discovery process has become common practice in the pharmaceutical industry. In the present study, we report assay development for three cardiac ion channels (hKCNQ1/minK, hCa(v)1.2, and hNa(v)1.5) on the IonWorks Quattro™ system. We demonstrate that these assays can be used as reliable pharmacological profiling tools for cardiac ion channel inhibition to assess compounds for cardiac liability during drug discovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/adt.2010.0333DOI Listing
December 2010

Evaluation of division-arrested cells for cell-based high-throughput screening and profiling.

J Biomol Screen 2005 Sep 15;10(6):615-23. Epub 2005 Aug 15.

Lead Discovery Center/Discovery Technologies, Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research, Inc., Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

Just-in-time cell supply for cell-based high-throughput screening (HTS) is frequently problematic. In addition to scheduling and logistical issues, quality issues and variability due to passage effect, cell cycle, or confluency contribute to day-to-day signal variability in the course of cell-based HTS campaigns. Cell division-arrest and cryopreservation technologies permit the use of cells as assay-ready reagents for HTS and other cell-based profiling and structure-activity studies. In this report, the authors compare division-arrested and dividing cells in 2 assay types that are dependent on movement of proteins within or through cell membranes: a receptor tyrosine kinase assay involving A431 cells responsive to epidermal growth factor, and a secretion reporter assay, which measures secretion of a reporter gene, secreted alkaline phosphatase. In both assays, dividing and division-arrested cells yielded similar basal and maximal signals at a given cell density. Similar IC50s were obtained for reference inhibitors in each assay, type in both dividing and division-arrested cells. In addition, for the secretion reporter assay, when comparing IC50s obtained from 44 compounds randomly chosen from a primary screening hit list, the rank order of potency obtained from dividing cells and division-arrested cells was essentially identical. Furthermore, the results show that, under certain assay conditions, data generated using division-arrested cells are less variable than those generated using dividing cells. In summary, the results suggest that, in many cases, division-arrested cells can substitute for dividing cells and offer certain advantages for cell-based assays.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1087057105276474DOI Listing
September 2005

T-cell depletion and graft survival induced by anti-human CD3 immunotoxins in human CD3epsilon transgenic mice.

Transplantation 2002 May;73(10):1658-66

Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Summit, New Jersey 07901, USA.

Background: Anti-CD3 immunotoxins are broad-spectrum immunosuppressive agents in a wide range of organ transplantation animal models with potential use in eliciting antigen-specific tolerance. However, the anti-CD3 immunotoxins used in animal studies do not cross-react with human T cells, limiting extrapolation to humans and hindering clinical development.

Methods: Three anti-human CD3-directed immunotoxins, DT389-scFv(UCHT1), scFv(UCHT1)-PE38, and UCHT1-CRM9, were compared in vitro and in transgenic mice, tg(epsilon)600+/-, that have T cells expressing both human and murine CD3epsilon antigens.

Results: These immunotoxins were extraordinarily potent in vitro against human or transgenic mouse T cells, with IC50 values in cellular assays ranging from pM to fM. Systemic administration of these immunotoxins dose-dependently depleted >99% of tg(epsilon)600+/- lymph node and spleen T cells in vivo. Depletion was specific for T cells. The loss of the concanavalin A-induced, but not the lipopolysaccharide-induced, splenic proliferative response from immunotoxin-treated animals further demonstrated specific loss of T-cell function. Immunotoxin treatment prolonged fully allogeneic skin graft survival in tg(epsilon)600+/- recipients to 25 days from 10 days in untreated animals. T-cells recovered to approximately 50% of normal levels after approximately 22 days in animals with or without skin grafts; T-cell recovery correlated with skin graft rejection. All three immunotoxins elicited >100 day median survival of fully allogeneic heterotopic heart grafts. By 100 days, T cells recovered to normal numbers in these animals, but the grafts showed chronic rejection.

Conclusion: These immunotoxins profoundly deplete T cells in vivo and effectively prolong allogeneic graft survival.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00007890-200205270-00023DOI Listing
May 2002