The establishment of a novel high-throughput screening system using RNA-guided genome editing to identify chemicals that suppress aldosterone synthase expression

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2021 Jan 1:534:672-679. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2020.11.020. Epub 2020 Nov 19.


Aldosterone is synthesized in the adrenal by the aldosterone synthase CYP11B2. Although the control of CYP11B2 expression is important to maintain the mineral homeostasis, its overexpression induced by the depolarization-induced calcium (Ca2+) signaling activation has been reported to increase the synthesis of aldosterone in primary aldosteronism (PA). The drug against PA focused on the suppression of CYP11B2 expression has not yet been developed, since the molecular mechanism of CYP11B2 transcriptional regulation activated via Ca2+ signaling remains unclear. To address the issue, we attempted to reveal the mechanism of the transcriptional regulation of CYP11B2 using chemical screening. We generated a cell line by inserting Nanoluc gene as a reporter into CYP11B2 locus in H295R adrenocortical cells using the CRSPR/Cas9 system, and established the high-throughput screening system using the cell line. We then identified 9 compounds that inhibited the CYP11B2 expression induced by potassium-mediated depolarization from the validated compound library (3399 compounds). Particularly, tacrolimus, an inhibitor of phosphatase calcineurin, strongly suppressed the CYP11B2 expression even at 10 nM. These results suggest that the system is effective in identifying drugs that suppress the depolarization-induced CYP11B2 expression. Our screening system may therefore be a useful tool for the development of novel medicines against PA.

Keywords: CRSPR/Cas9; CYP11B2; Calcineurin; Chemical screening; Genome-editing; Tacrolimus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex / drug effects
  • Adrenal Cortex / metabolism
  • Aldosterone / biosynthesis
  • Base Sequence
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Cell Line
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP11B2 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP11B2 / genetics*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods
  • Gene Editing / methods*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / drug effects
  • Genes, Reporter
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hyperaldosteronism / drug therapy
  • Hyperaldosteronism / genetics
  • Hyperaldosteronism / metabolism
  • RNA, Guide, CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Steroid 11-beta-Hydroxylase / genetics
  • Tacrolimus / pharmacology


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Aldosterone
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP11B2
  • Steroid 11-beta-Hydroxylase
  • Tacrolimus