Multiparameter phenotypic screening for endogenous TFEB and TFE3 translocation identifies novel chemical series modulating lysosome function

Autophagy. 2023 Feb;19(2):692-705. doi: 10.1080/15548627.2022.2095834. Epub 2022 Jul 25.


The accumulation of toxic protein aggregates in multiple neurodegenerative diseases is associated with defects in the macroautophagy/autophagy-lysosome pathway. The amelioration of disease phenotypes across multiple models of neurodegeneration can be achieved through modulating the master regulator of lysosome function, TFEB (transcription factor EB). Using a novel multi-parameter high-throughput screen for cytoplasmic:nuclear translocation of endogenous TFEB and the related transcription factor TFE3, we screened the Published Kinase Inhibitor Set 2 (PKIS2) library as proof of principle and to identify kinase regulators of TFEB and TFE3. Given that TFEB and TFE3 are responsive to cellular stress we have established assays for cellular toxicity and lysosomal function, critical to ensuring the identification of hit compounds with only positive effects on lysosome activity. In addition to AKT inhibitors which regulate TFEB localization, we identified a series of quinazoline-derivative compounds that induced TFEB and TFE3 translocation. A novel series of structurally-related analogs was developed, and several compounds induced TFEB and TFE3 translocation at higher potency than previously screened compounds. KINOMEscan and cell-based KiNativ kinase profiling revealed high binding for the PRKD (protein kinase D) family of kinases, suggesting good selectivity for these compounds. We describe and utilize a cellular target-validation platform using CRISPRi knockdown and orthogonal PRKD inhibitors to demonstrate that the activity of these compounds is independent of PRKD inhibition. The more potent analogs induced subsequent upregulation of the CLEAR gene network and cleared pathological HTT protein in a cellular model of proteinopathy, demonstrating their potential to alleviate neurodegeneration-relevant phenotypes. Abbreviations: AD: Alzheimer disease; AK: adenylate kinase; CLEAR: coordinated lysosomal expression and regulation; CQ: chloroquine; HD: Huntington disease; PD: Parkinson disease; PKIS2: Published Kinase Inhibitor Set 2; PRKD: protein kinase D; TFEB: transcription factor EB.

Keywords: High-content screening; PKIS2; TFEB; lysosome activity; lysosome biogenesis; protein aggregation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autophagy* / genetics
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors* / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Lysosomes / metabolism


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors