Evaluation of a Selective Chemical Probe Validates That CK2 Mediates Neuroinflammation in a Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Mircroglial Model

Front Mol Neurosci. 2022 Jun 14;15:824956. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2022.824956. eCollection 2022.

Abstract

Novel treatments for neurodegenerative disorders are in high demand. It is imperative that new protein targets be identified to address this need. Characterization and validation of nascent targets can be accomplished very effectively using highly specific and potent chemical probes. Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) provide a relevant platform for testing new compounds in disease relevant cell types. However, many recent studies utilizing this platform have focused on neuronal cells. In this study, we used hiPSC-derived microglia-like cells (MGLs) to perform side-by-side testing of a selective chemical probe, SGC-CK2-1, compared with an advanced clinical candidate, CX-4945, both targeting casein kinase 2 (CK2), one of the first kinases shown to be dysregulated in Alzheimer's disease (AD). CK2 can mediate neuroinflammation in AD, however, its role in microglia, the innate immune cells of the central nervous system (CNS), has not been defined. We analyzed available RNA-seq data to determine the microglial expression of kinases inhibited by SGC-CK2-1 and CX-4945 with a reported role in mediating inflammation in glial cells. As proof-of-concept for using hiPSC-MGLs as a potential screening platform, we used both wild-type (WT) MGLs and MGLs harboring a mutation in presenilin-1 (PSEN1), which is causative for early-onset, familial AD (FAD). We stimulated these MGLs with pro-inflammatory lipopolysaccharides (LPS) derived from E. coli and observed strong inhibition of the expression and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines by simultaneous treatment with SGC-CK2-1. A direct comparison shows that SGC-CK2-1 was more effective at suppression of proinflammatory cytokines than CX-4945. Together, these results validate a selective chemical probe, SGC-CK2-1, in human microglia as a tool to reduce neuroinflammation.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; SGC-CK2-1; casein kinase 2; chemical probe; hiPSC models; neuroinflammation.