Background and purpose: The lipid phosphatase known as SH2 domain-containing inositol 5'-phosphatase 2 (SHIP2) plays an important role in the regulation of the intracellular insulin signalling pathway. Recent studies have suggested that inhibition of SHIP2 could produce significant benefits in treatment of type 2 diabetes. However, there were no small molecule SHIP2 inhibitors and we, therefore, aimed to identify this type of compound.
Experimental approach: The phosphatase assay with malachite green was used for high-throughput screening. The pharmacological profiles of suitable compounds were further characterized in phosphatase assays, cellular assays and oral administration in normal and diabetic (db/db) mice.
Key results: During high-throughput screening, AS1949490 was identified as a potent SHIP2 inhibitor (IC(50)= 0.62 microM for SHIP2). This compound was also selective for SHIP2 relative to other intracellular phosphatases. In L6 myotubes, AS1949490 increased the phosphorylation of Akt, glucose consumption and glucose uptake. In FAO hepatocytes, AS1949490 suppressed gluconeogenesis. Acute administration of AS1949490 inhibited the expression of gluconeogenic genes in the livers of normal mice. Chronic treatment of diabetic db/db mice with AS1949490 significantly lowered the plasma glucose level and improved glucose intolerance. These in vivo effects were based in part on the activation of intracellular insulin signalling pathways in the liver.
Conclusions and implications: This is the first report of a small molecule inhibitor of SHIP2. This compound will help to elucidate the physiological functions of SHIP2 and its involvement in various diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.