Impaired cellular cholesterol efflux is a key factor in the progression of renal, cardiovascular, and autoimmune diseases. Here we describe a class of 5-arylnicotinamide compounds, identified through phenotypic drug discovery, that upregulate ABCA1-dependent cholesterol efflux by targeting Oxysterol Binding Protein Like 7 (OSBPL7). OSBPL7 was identified as the molecular target of these compounds through a chemical biology approach, employing a photoactivatable 5-arylnicotinamide derivative in a cellular cross-linking/immunoprecipitation assay. Further evaluation of two compounds (Cpd A and Cpd G) showed that they induced ABCA1 and cholesterol efflux from podocytes in vitro and normalized proteinuria and prevented renal function decline in mouse models of proteinuric kidney disease: Adriamycin-induced nephropathy and Alport Syndrome. In conclusion, we show that small molecule drugs targeting OSBPL7 reveal an alternative mechanism to upregulate ABCA1, and may represent a promising new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of renal diseases and other disorders of cellular cholesterol homeostasis.
© 2021. The Author(s).