Development of a Bioluminescent High-Throughput Screening Assay for Nicotinamide Mononucleotide Adenylyltransferase (NMNAT)

SLAS Discov. 2020 Jan;25(1):33-42. doi: 10.1177/2472555219879644. Epub 2019 Oct 4.


Nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyltransferase (NMNAT; EC catalyzes the reversible production of NAD+ from NMN+ and ATP and is a potential drug target for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. A sensitive bioluminescent assay format suitable to high-throughput screening (HTS) and mechanistic follow-up has not been reported and is of value to identify new modulators of NMNATs. To this end, we report the development of a bioluminescent assay using Photinus pyralis ATP-dependent luciferase and luciferin for NMNAT1 in a 384-well plate format. We also report a mechanistic follow-up paradigm using this format to determine time dependence and competition with substrates. The assay and follow-up paradigm were used to screen 912 compounds from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Mechanistic Diversity Set II and the Approved Oncology Set VI against NMNAT1. Twenty inhibitors with greater than 35% inhibition at 20 µM were identified. The follow-up studies showed that seven actives were time-dependent inhibitors of NMNAT1. 2,3-Dibromo-1,4-naphthoquinone was the most potent, time-dependent inhibitor with IC50 values of 0.76 and 0.26 µM for inhibition of the forward and reverse reactions of the enzyme, respectively, and was shown to be NMN and ATP competitive. The bioluminescent NMNAT assay and mechanistic-follow-up will be of use to identify new modulators of NAD biosynthesis.

Keywords: MMOA; NAD+; NMN; assay; bioluminescence; inhibition; screening; time dependence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Enzyme Assays / methods*
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Reporter
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / methods*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Luminescent Measurements / methods*
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • NAD / metabolism
  • Nicotinamide-Nucleotide Adenylyltransferase / chemistry
  • Nicotinamide-Nucleotide Adenylyltransferase / metabolism*


  • NAD
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Nicotinamide-Nucleotide Adenylyltransferase