The flavonoid genistein and the benzo[c]quinolizinium MPB-07 have been shown to activate the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), the protein that is defective in cystic fibrosis. Lead-based combinatorial and parallel synthesis yielded 223 flavonoid, quinolizinium, and related heterocyclic compounds. The compounds were screened for their ability to activate CFTR at 50 μM concentration by measurement of the kinetics of iodide influx in Fisher rat thyroid cells expressing wild-type or G551D CFTR together with the green fluorescent protein-based halide indicator YFP-H148Q. Duplicate screenings revealed that 204 compounds did not significantly affect CFTR function. Compounds of the 7,8-benzoflavone class, which are structurally intermediate between flavones and benzo[c]quinoliziniums, were effective CFTR activators with the most potent being 2-(4-pyridinium)benzo[h]4H-chromen-4-one bisulfate (UCCF-029). Compounds of the novel structural class of fused pyrazolo heterocycles were also strong CFTR activators with the most potent being 3-(3-butynyl)-5-methoxy-1-phenylpyrazole-4-carbaldehyde (UCCF-180). A CFTR inhibitor was also identified. The active compounds did not induce iodide influx in null cells deficient in CFTR. Short-circuit current measurements showed that the CFTR activators identified by screening induced strong anion currents in the transfected cell monolayers grown on porous supports. Compared with genistein, the most active compounds had up to 10 times greater potency in activating wild-type and/or G551D-CFTR. The activators had low cellular toxicity and did not elevate cellular cAMP concentration or inhibit phosphatase activity, suggesting that CFTR activation may involve a direct interaction. These results establish an efficient screening procedure to identify CFTR activators and inhibitors and have identified 7,8-benzoflavones and pyrazolo derivatives as novel classes of CFTR activators.
ASJC Scopus subject areas