Screening of subtype-specific activators and inhibitors for diacylglycerol kinase

J Biochem. 2019 Jun 1;165(6):517-522. doi: 10.1093/jb/mvz008.


Diacylglycerol kinase (DGK) is a lipid kinase that converts diacylglycerol (DG) into phosphatidic acid (PA). DG and PA function as lipid messengers contributing to various signalling pathways. Thus, DGK plays a pivotal role in the signalling pathways by maintaining DG and PA levels. For example, DGKδ is involved in diabetes and DGKβ is important for higher brain function including memory and emotion. Recently, we also revealed that the activation of DGKα ameliorated diabetic nephropathy (DN) in mice, suggesting that DGK can be therapeutic target. However, there is no commercially available DGK subtype-specific inhibitors or activators. Therefore, in a series of experiment to find DGK subtype-specific inhibitors or activators, we tried to screen novel DGKα activators from 9,600 randomly selected compounds by using high-throughput screening we had recently developed. Finally, we obtained two lead compounds for DGKα activators, KU-8 and KU-10. Focusing KU-8, we assessed the effect of KU-8 on all mammalian DGKs activities. Thus, KU-8 activates not only DGKα but also DGKθ by approximately 20%, and strongly inhibited DGKκ. In conclusion, KU-8 would be a good lead compound for DGKα and DGKθ activators, and useful as a DGKκ inhibitor.

Keywords: diacylglycerol; diacylglycerol kinase; diebetic nephrophathy; hypospadias; phosphatyidic acid.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Cyclopropanes / chemistry
  • Cyclopropanes / pharmacology*
  • Diacylglycerol Kinase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Diacylglycerol Kinase / metabolism*
  • Dioxins / chemistry
  • Dioxins / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Mice
  • Molecular Structure
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Xylenes / chemistry
  • Xylenes / pharmacology*


  • Cyclopropanes
  • Dioxins
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Xylenes
  • Diacylglycerol Kinase