Synthesis, Optimization, and Evaluation of Novel Small Molecules as Antagonists of WDR5-MLL Interaction

ACS Med Chem Lett. 2013 Feb 4;4(3):353-7. doi: 10.1021/ml300467n. eCollection 2013 Mar 14.


The WD40-repeat protein WDR5 plays a critical role in maintaining the integrity of MLL complexes and fully activating their methyltransferase function. MLL complexes, the trithorax-like family of SET1 methyltransferases, catalyze trimethylation of lysine 4 on histone 3, and they have been widely implicated in various cancers. Antagonism of WDR5 and MLL subunit interaction by small molecules has recently been presented as a practical way to inhibit activity of the MLL1 complex, and N-(2-(4-methylpiperazin-1-yl)-5-substituted-phenyl) benzamides were reported as potent and selective antagonists of such an interaction. Here, we describe the protein crystal structure guided optimization of prototypic compound 2 (K dis = 7 μM), leading to identification of more potent antagonist 47 (K dis = 0.3 μM).

Keywords: MLL; SET1 methyltransferase complex; WDR5; peptide binding site; small molecule antagonists.