Purpose: We previously identified an oxysterol, VP1-001 (also known as compound 29), that partially restores the transparency of lenses with cataracts. To understand the mechanism of VP1-001, we tested the ability of its enantiomer, ent-VP1-001, to bind and stabilize αB-crystallin (cryAB) in vitro and to produce a similar therapeutic effect in cryAB(R120G) mutant and aged wild-type mice with cataracts. VP1-001 and ent-VP1-001 have identical physicochemical properties. These experiments are designed to critically evaluate whether stereoselective binding to cryAB is required for activity.
Methods: We compared the binding of VP1-001 and ent-VP1-001 to cryAB using in silico docking, differential scanning fluorimetry (DSF), and microscale thermophoresis (MST). Compounds were delivered by six topical administrations to mouse eyes over 2 weeks, and the effects on cataracts and lens refractive measures in vivo were examined. Additionally, lens epithelial and fiber cell morphologies were assessed via transmission electron microscopy.
Results: Docking studies suggested greater binding of VP1-001 into a deep groove in the cryAB dimer compared with ent-VP1-001. Consistent with this prediction, DSF and MST experiments showed that VP1-001 bound cryAB, whereas ent-VP1-001 did not. Accordingly, topical treatment of lenses with ent-VP1-001 had no effect, whereas VP1-001 produced a statistically significant improvement in lens clarity and favorable changes in lens morphology.
Conclusions: The ability of VP1-001 to bind native cryAB dimers is important for its ability to reverse lens opacity in mouse models of cataracts.