Bacterial production and direct functional screening of expanded molecular libraries for discovering inhibitors of protein aggregation

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Science Advances  16 Oct 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 10, eaax5108
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax5108


Protein misfolding and aggregation are associated with a many human disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Toward increasing the effectiveness of early-stage drug discovery for these conditions, we report a bacterial platform that enables the biosynthesis of molecular libraries with expanded diversities and their direct functional screening for discovering protein aggregation inhibitors. We illustrate this approach by performing, what is to our knowledge, the largest functional screen of small-size molecular entities described to date. We generated a combinatorial library of ~200 million drug-like, cyclic peptides and rapidly screened it for aggregation inhibitors against the amyloid-β peptide (Aβ42), linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Through this procedure, we identified more than 400 macrocyclic compounds that efficiently reduce Aβ42 aggregation and toxicity in vitro and in vivo. Finally, we applied a combination of deep sequencing and mutagenesis analyses to demonstrate how this system can rapidly determine structure-activity relationships and define consensus motifs required for bioactivity.

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