Background: Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) is a secreted protein that down-regulates hepatic low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) by binding and shuttling LDLR to lysosomes for degradation. The development of therapy that inhibits PCSK9 has attracted considerable attention for the management of cardiovascular disease risk. However, only monoclonal antibodies of PCSK9 have reached the clinic use. Oral administration of small-molecule transcriptional inhibitors has the potential to become a therapeutic option.
Methods: Here, we developed a cell-based small molecule screening platform to identify transcriptional inhibitors of PCSK9. Through high-throughput screening and a series of evaluation, we found several active compounds. After detailed investigation on the pharmacological effect and molecular mechanistic characterization, 7030B-C5 was identified as a potential small-molecule PCSK9 inhibitor.
Findings: Our data showed that 7030B-C5 down-regulated PCSK9 expression and increased the total cellular LDLR protein and its mediated LDL-C uptake by HepG2 cells. In both C57BL/6 J and ApoE KO mice, oral administration of 7030B-C5 reduced hepatic and plasma PCSK9 level and increased hepatic LDLR expression. Most importantly, 7030B-C5 inhibited lesions in en face aortas and aortic root in ApoE KO mice with a slight amelioration of lipid profiles. We further provide evidences suggesting that transcriptional regulation of PCSK9 by 7030B-C5 mostly depend on the transcriptional factor HNF1α and FoxO3. Furthermore, FoxO1 was found to play an important role in 7030B-C5 mediated integration of hepatic glucose and lipid metabolism.
Interpretation: 7030B-C5 with potential suppressive effect of PCSK9 expression may serve as a promising lead compound for drug development of cholesterol/glucose homeostasis and cardiovascular disease therapy. FUND: This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81473214, 81402929, and 81621064), the Drug Innovation Major Project of China (2018ZX09711001-003-006, 2018ZX09711001-007 and 2018ZX09735001-002), CAMS Innovation Fund for Medical Sciences (2016-I2M-2-002, 2016-I2M-1-011 and 2017-I2M-1-008), Beijing Natural Science Foundation (7162129).
Keywords: Atherosclerosis; FoxO1/3; HNF1α; Lipid and glucose metabolism; PCSK9; Small-molecule inhibitor.
Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Conflict of interest statement
Declaration of Competing Interest The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest regarding the publication of this article.
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