Development of a chemical probe against NUDT15

Nat Chem Biol. 2020 Oct;16(10):1120-1128. doi: 10.1038/s41589-020-0592-z. Epub 2020 Jul 20.


The NUDIX hydrolase NUDT15 was originally implicated in sanitizing oxidized nucleotides, but was later shown to hydrolyze the active thiopurine metabolites, 6-thio-(d)GTP, thereby dictating the clinical response of this standard-of-care treatment for leukemia and inflammatory diseases. Nonetheless, its physiological roles remain elusive. Here, we sought to develop small-molecule NUDT15 inhibitors to elucidate its biological functions and potentially to improve NUDT15-dependent chemotherapeutics. Lead compound TH1760 demonstrated low-nanomolar biochemical potency through direct and specific binding into the NUDT15 catalytic pocket and engaged cellular NUDT15 in the low-micromolar range. We also employed thiopurine potentiation as a proxy functional readout and demonstrated that TH1760 sensitized cells to 6-thioguanine through enhanced accumulation of 6-thio-(d)GTP in nucleic acids. A biochemically validated, inactive structural analog, TH7285, confirmed that increased thiopurine toxicity takes place via direct NUDT15 inhibition. In conclusion, TH1760 represents the first chemical probe for interrogating NUDT15 biology and potential therapeutic avenues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Line
  • Drug Design
  • Drug Development
  • Escherichia coli
  • Humans
  • Inorganic Pyrophosphatase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Inorganic Pyrophosphatase / genetics
  • Inorganic Pyrophosphatase / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Pyrophosphatases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Pyrophosphatases / chemistry
  • Pyrophosphatases / genetics
  • Pyrophosphatases / metabolism*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • NUDT15 protein, human
  • Pyrophosphatases
  • Inorganic Pyrophosphatase