Publications by authors named "Michele M Maxwell"

14 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

SIRT2- and NRF2-Targeting Thiazole-Containing Compound with Therapeutic Activity in Huntington's Disease Models.

Cell Chem Biol 2016 07 14;23(7):849-861. Epub 2016 Jul 14.

Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA. Electronic address:

There are currently no disease-modifying therapies for the neurodegenerative disorder Huntington's disease (HD). This study identified novel thiazole-containing inhibitors of the deacetylase sirtuin-2 (SIRT2) with neuroprotective activity in ex vivo brain slice and Drosophila models of HD. A systems biology approach revealed an additional SIRT2-independent property of the lead-compound, MIND4, as an inducer of cytoprotective NRF2 (nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45-derived factor 2) activity. Structure-activity relationship studies further identified a potent NRF2 activator (MIND4-17) lacking SIRT2 inhibitory activity. MIND compounds induced NRF2 activation responses in neuronal and non-neuronal cells and reduced production of reactive oxygen species and nitrogen intermediates. These drug-like thiazole-containing compounds represent an exciting opportunity for development of multi-targeted agents with potentially synergistic therapeutic benefits in HD and related disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chembiol.2016.05.015DOI Listing
July 2016

Highlights of the Keystone Symposium: sirtuins in metabolism, aging and disease.

EMBO Mol Med 2012 Jul 18;4(7):557-60. Epub 2012 May 18.

MassGeneral Institute for Neuodegenerative Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA, USA.

From February 12-16, 2012, leading members of the sirtuin scientific community assembled in Tahoe, CA to attend the Keystone Symposium "Sirtuins in Aging, Metabolism, and Disease." It was a vibrant and lively meeting, and in the spirit of Keystone Symposia, both established sirtuin researchers and those new to the field enjoyed a unique opportunity to interact and exchange ideas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/emmm.201201452DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407943PMC
July 2012

The Sirtuin 2 microtubule deacetylase is an abundant neuronal protein that accumulates in the aging CNS.

Hum Mol Genet 2011 Oct 26;20(20):3986-96. Epub 2011 Jul 26.

MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Sirtuin 2 (SIRT2) is one of seven known mammalian protein deacetylases homologous to the yeast master lifespan regulator Sir2. In recent years, the sirtuin protein deacetylases have emerged as candidate therapeutic targets for many human diseases, including metabolic and age-dependent neurological disorders. In non-neuronal cells, SIRT2 has been shown to function as a tubulin deacetylase and a key regulator of cell division and differentiation. However, the distribution and function of the SIRT2 microtubule (MT) deacetylase in differentiated, postmitotic neurons remain largely unknown. Here, we show abundant and preferential expression of specific isoforms of SIRT2 in the mammalian central nervous system and find that a previously uncharacterized form, SIRT2.3, exhibits age-dependent accumulation in the mouse brain and spinal cord. Further, our studies reveal that focal areas of endogenous SIRT2 expression correlate with reduced α-tubulin acetylation in primary mouse cortical neurons and suggest that the brain-enriched species of SIRT2 may function as the predominant MT deacetylases in mature neurons. Recent reports have demonstrated an association between impaired tubulin acetyltransferase activity and neurodegenerative disease; viewed in this light, our results showing age-dependent accumulation of the SIRT2 neuronal MT deacetylase in wild-type mice suggest a functional link between tubulin acetylation patterns and the aging brain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddr326DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3203628PMC
October 2011

A brain-permeable small molecule reduces neuronal cholesterol by inhibiting activity of sirtuin 2 deacetylase.

ACS Chem Biol 2011 Jun 9;6(6):540-6. Epub 2011 Mar 9.

Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Sirtuin 2 (SIRT2) deacetylase-dependent inhibition mediates neuroprotective reduction of cholesterol biosynthesis in an in vitro Huntington's disease model. This study sought to identify the first brain-permeable SIRT2 inhibitor and to characterize its cholesterol-reducing properties in neuronal models. Using biochemical sirtuin deacetylation assays, we screened a brain-permeable in silico compound library, yielding 3-(1-azepanylsulfonyl)-N-(3-bromphenyl)benzamide as the most potent and selective SIRT2 inhibitor. Pharmacokinetic studies demonstrated brain-permeability but limited metabolic stability of the selected candidate. In accordance with previous observations, this SIRT2 inhibitor stimulated cytoplasmic retention of sterol regulatory element binding protein-2 and subsequent transcriptional downregulation of cholesterol biosynthesis genes, resulting in reduced total cholesterol in primary striatal neurons. Furthermore, the identified inhibitor reduced cholesterol in cultured naïve neuronal cells and brain slices from wild-type mice. The outcome of this study provides a clear opportunity for lead optimization and drug development, targeting metabolic dysfunctions in CNS disorders where abnormal cholesterol homeostasis is implicated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/cb100376qDOI Listing
June 2011

Evaluation of histone deacetylases as drug targets in Huntington's disease models. Study of HDACs in brain tissues from R6/2 and CAG140 knock-in HD mouse models and human patients and in a neuronal HD cell model.

PLoS Curr 2010 Sep 2;2. Epub 2010 Sep 2.

MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital, & Harvard Medical School, Bldg. 114-3300, 16th Street, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.

The family of histone deacetylases (HDACs) has recently emerged as important drug targets for treatment of slow progressive neurodegenerative disorders, including Huntington's disease (HD). Broad pharmaceutical inhibition of HDACs has shown neuroprotective effects in various HD models. Here we examined the susceptibility of HDAC targets for drug treatment in affected brain areas during HD progression. We observed increased HDAC1 and decreased HDAC4, 5 and 6 levels, correlating with disease progression, in cortices and striata of HD R6/2 mice. However, there were no significant changes in HDAC protein levels, assessed in an age-dependent manner, in HD knock-in CAG140 mice and we did not observe significant changes in HDAC1 levels in human HD brains. We further assessed acetylation levels of α-tubulin, as a biomarker of HDAC6 activity, and found it unchanged in cortices from R6/2, knock-in, and human subjects at all disease stages. Inhibition of deacetylase activities was identical in cortical extracts from R6/2 and wild-type mice treated with a class II-selective HDAC inhibitor. Lastly, treatment with class I- and II-selective HDAC inhibitors showed similar responses in HD and wild-type rat striatal cells. In conclusion, our results show that class I and class II HDAC targets are present and accessible for chronic drug treatment during HD progression and provide impetus for therapeutic development of brain-permeable class- or isoform-selective inhibitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/currents.RRN1172DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2943247PMC
September 2010

SIRT2 inhibition achieves neuroprotection by decreasing sterol biosynthesis.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2010 Apr 8;107(17):7927-32. Epub 2010 Apr 8.

Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.

Huntington's disease (HD), an incurable neurodegenerative disorder, has a complex pathogenesis including protein aggregation and the dysregulation of neuronal transcription and metabolism. Here, we demonstrate that inhibition of sirtuin 2 (SIRT2) achieves neuroprotection in cellular and invertebrate models of HD. Genetic or pharmacologic inhibition of SIRT2 in a striatal neuron model of HD resulted in gene expression changes including significant down-regulation of RNAs responsible for sterol biosynthesis. Whereas mutant huntingtin fragments increased sterols in neuronal cells, SIRT2 inhibition reduced sterol levels via decreased nuclear trafficking of SREBP-2. Importantly, manipulation of sterol biosynthesis at the transcriptional level mimicked SIRT2 inhibition, demonstrating that the metabolic effects of SIRT2 inhibition are sufficient to diminish mutant huntingtin toxicity. These data identify SIRT2 inhibition as a promising avenue for HD therapy and elucidate a unique mechanism of SIRT2-inhibitor-mediated neuroprotection. Furthermore, the ascertainment of SIRT2's role in regulating cellular metabolism demonstrates a central function shared with other sirtuin proteins.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1002924107DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2867924PMC
April 2010

Dexamethasone induces dysferlin in myoblasts and enhances their myogenic differentiation.

Neuromuscul Disord 2010 Feb 18;20(2):111-21. Epub 2010 Jan 18.

Dept. of Urology, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

Glucocorticoids are beneficial in many muscular dystrophies but they are ineffective in treating dysferlinopathy, a rare muscular dystrophy caused by loss of dysferlin. We sought to understand the molecular basis for this disparity by studying the effects of a glucocorticoid on differentiation of the myoblast cell line, C2C12, and dysferlin-deficient C2C12s. We found that pharmacologic doses of dexamethasone enhanced the myogenic fusion efficiency of C2C12s and increased the induction of dysferlin, along with specific myogenic transcription factors, sarcolemmal and structural proteins. In contrast, the dysferlin-deficient C2C12 cell line demonstrated a reduction in long myotubes and early induction of particular muscle differentiation proteins, most notably, myosin heavy chain. Dexamethasone partially reversed the defect in myogenic fusion in the dysferlin-deficient C2C12 cells. We hypothesize that a key therapeutic benefit of glucocorticoids may be the up-regulation of dysferlin as an important component of glucocorticoid-enhanced myogenic differentiation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nmd.2009.12.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2856642PMC
February 2010

Sirtuin 2 inhibitors rescue alpha-synuclein-mediated toxicity in models of Parkinson's disease.

Science 2007 Jul 21;317(5837):516-9. Epub 2007 Jun 21.

Alzheimer's Research Unit, MGH, Harvard Medical School, CNY 114, 16th Street, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.

The sirtuins are members of the histone deacetylase family of proteins that participate in a variety of cellular functions and play a role in aging. We identified a potent inhibitor of sirtuin 2 (SIRT2) and found that inhibition of SIRT2 rescued alpha-synuclein toxicity and modified inclusion morphology in a cellular model of Parkinson's disease. Genetic inhibition of SIRT2 via small interfering RNA similarly rescued alpha-synuclein toxicity. Furthermore, the inhibitors protected against dopaminergic cell death both in vitro and in a Drosophila model of Parkinson's disease. The results suggest a link between neurodegeneration and aging.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1143780DOI Listing
July 2007

Discovery of a novel small-molecule targeting selective clearance of mutant huntingtin fragments.

J Biomol Screen 2007 Apr 22;12(3):351-60. Epub 2007 Mar 22.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA.

CAG-triplet repeat extension, translated into polyglutamines within the coding frame of otherwise unrelated gene products, causes 9 incurable neurodegenerative disorders, including Huntington's disease. Although an expansion in the CAG repeat length is the autosomal dominant mutation that causes the fully penetrant neurological phenotypes, the repeat length is inversely correlated with the age of onset. The precise molecular mechanism(s) of neurodegeneration remains elusive, but compelling evidence implicates the protein or its proteolytic fragments as the cause for the gain of novel pathological function(s). The authors sought to identify small molecules that target the selective clearance of polypeptides containing pathological polyglutamine extension. In a high-throughput chemical screen, they identified compounds that facilitate the clearance of a small huntingtin fragment with extended polyglutamines fused to green fluorescent protein reporter. Identified hits were validated in dose-response and toxicity tests. Compounds have been further tested in an assay for clearance of a larger huntingtin fragment, containing either pathological or normal polyglutamine repeats. In this assay, the authors identified compounds selectively targeting the clearance of mutant but not normal huntingtin fragments. These compounds were subjected to a functional assay, which yielded a lead compound that rescues cells from induced mutant polyglutamine toxicity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1087057107299428DOI Listing
April 2007

Two approaches to drug discovery in SOD1-mediated ALS.

J Biomol Screen 2006 Oct 23;11(7):729-35. Epub 2006 Aug 23.

Day Neuromuscular Research Laboratory, MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.

Familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) accounts for 10% of all ALS cases; approximately 25% of these cases are due to mutations in the Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase gene (SOD1). To date, 105 different mutations spanning all 5 exons have been identified in the SOD1 gene. Mutant SOD1-associated ALS is caused by a toxic gain of function of the mutated protein. Therefore, regardless of the specific mechanism whereby mutant SOD1 initiates motor neuron death, the authors hypothesize that measures that decrease levels of mutant SOD1 protein should ameliorate the phenotype in transgenic mice and potentially in patients with SOD1-mediated disease. They have designed 2 cell-based screening assays to identify small, brain-permeant molecules that inactivate expression of the SOD1 gene or increase the degradation of the SOD1 protein. Here they describe the development and optimization of these assays and the results of high-throughput screening using a variety of compound libraries, including a total of more than 116,000 compounds. The majority of the hit compounds identified that down-regulated SOD1 were shown to be toxic in a cell-based viability assay or were nonselective transcription inhibitors, but work is continuing on a number of nonspecific inhibitors of SOD1 expression. Ultimately, the authors believe that these 2 cell-based assays will provide powerful strategies to identify novel therapies for the treatment of inherited SOD1-associated forms of ALS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1087057106290937DOI Listing
October 2006

Discovery of bioactive small-molecule inhibitor of poly adp-ribose polymerase: implications for energy-deficient cells.

Chem Biol 2006 Jul;13(7):765-70

Massachusetts General Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease and Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, 02129, USA.

Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP1) is a nuclear protein that, when overactivated by oxidative stress-induced DNA damage, ADP ribosylates target proteins leading to dramatic cellular ATP depletion. We have discovered a biologically active small-molecule inhibitor of PARP1. The discovered compound inhibited PARP1 enzymatic activity in vitro and prevented ATP loss and cell death in a surrogate model of oxidative stress in vivo. We also investigated a new use for PARP1 inhibitors in energy-deficient cells by using Huntington's disease as a model. Our results showed that insult with the oxidant hydrogen peroxide depleted cellular ATP in mutant cells below the threshold of viability. The protective role of PARP1 inhibitors against oxidative stress has been shown in this model system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chembiol.2006.05.012DOI Listing
July 2006

Pharmacological promotion of inclusion formation: a therapeutic approach for Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2006 Mar 6;103(11):4246-51. Epub 2006 Mar 6.

Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Room E18-505, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

Misfolded proteins accumulate in many neurodegenerative diseases, including huntingtin in Huntington's disease and alpha-synuclein in Parkinson's disease. The disease-causing proteins can take various conformations and are prone to aggregate and form larger cytoplasmic or nuclear inclusions. One approach to the development of therapeutic intervention for these diseases has been to identify chemical compounds that reduce the size or number of inclusions. We have, however, identified a compound that promotes inclusion formation in cellular models of both Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease. Of particular interest, this compound prevents huntingtin-mediated proteasome dysfunction and reduces alpha-synuclein-mediated toxicity. These results demonstrate that compounds that increase inclusion formation may actually lessen cellular pathology in both Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases, suggesting a therapeutic approach for neurodegenerative diseases caused by protein misfolding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0511256103DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1449678PMC
March 2006

A potent small molecule inhibits polyglutamine aggregation in Huntington's disease neurons and suppresses neurodegeneration in vivo.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2005 Jan 10;102(3):892-7. Epub 2005 Jan 10.

Department of Biochemistry, Boston University Medical School, Boston, MA 02118, USA.

Polyglutamine (polyQ) disorders, including Huntington's disease (HD), are caused by expansion of polyQ-encoding repeats within otherwise unrelated gene products. In polyQ diseases, the pathology and death of affected neurons are associated with the accumulation of mutant proteins in insoluble aggregates. Several studies implicate polyQ-dependent aggregation as a cause of neurodegeneration in HD, suggesting that inhibition of neuronal polyQ aggregation may be therapeutic in HD patients. We have used a yeast-based high-throughput screening assay to identify small-molecule inhibitors of polyQ aggregation. We validated the effects of four hit compounds in mammalian cell-based models of HD, optimized compound structures for potency, and then tested them in vitro in cultured brain slices from HD transgenic mice. These efforts identified a potent compound (IC50=10 nM) with long-term inhibitory effects on polyQ aggregation in HD neurons. Testing of this compound in a Drosophila HD model showed that it suppresses neurodegeneration in vivo, strongly suggesting an essential role for polyQ aggregation in HD pathology. The aggregation inhibitors identified in this screen represent four primary chemical scaffolds and are strong lead compounds for the development of therapeutics for human polyQ diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0408936102DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC545525PMC
January 2005

RNA interference-mediated silencing of mutant superoxide dismutase rescues cyclosporin A-induced death in cultured neuroblastoma cells.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2004 Mar 23;101(9):3178-83. Epub 2004 Feb 23.

Day Laboratory for Neuromuscular Research and High Throughput Screening Laboratory, MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disorder resulting from selective death of motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. In approximately 25% of familial ALS cases, the disease is caused by dominantly acting point mutations in the gene encoding cytosolic Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1). In cell culture and in rodent models of ALS, mutant SOD1 proteins exhibit dose-dependent toxicity; thus, agents that reduce mutant protein expression would be powerful therapeutic tools. A wealth of recent evidence has demonstrated that the mechanism of RNA-mediated interference (RNAi) can be exploited to achieve potent and specific gene silencing in vitro and in vivo. We have evaluated the utility of RNAi for selective silencing of mutant SOD1 expression in cultured cells and have identified small interfering RNAs capable of specifically inhibiting expression of ALS-linked mutant, but not wild-type, SOD1. We have investigated the functional effects of RNAi-mediated silencing of mutant SOD1 in cultured murine neuroblastoma cells. In this model, stable expression of mutant, but not wild-type, human SOD1 sensitizes cells to cytotoxic stimuli. We find that silencing of mutant SOD1 protects these cells against cyclosporin A-induced cell death. These results demonstrate a positive physiological effect caused by RNAi-mediated silencing of a dominant disease allele. The present study further supports the therapeutic potential of RNAi-based methods for the treatment of inherited human diseases, including ALS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0308726100DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC365763PMC
March 2004