Molecular glues of the regulatory ChREBP/14-3-3 complex protect beta cells from glucolipotoxicity

bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2024 Feb 17:2024.02.16.580675. doi: 10.1101/2024.02.16.580675.


The Carbohydrate Response Element Binding Protein (ChREBP) is a glucose-responsive transcription factor (TF) that is characterized by two major splice isoforms (α and β). In acute hyperglycemia, both ChREBP isoforms regulate adaptive β-expansion; however, during chronic hyperglycemia and glucolipotoxicity, ChREBPβ expression surges, leading to β-cell dedifferentiation and death. 14-3-3 binding to ChREBPα results in its cytoplasmic retention and concomitant suppression of transcriptional activity, suggesting that small molecule-mediated stabilization of this protein-protein interaction (PPI) via molecular glues may represent an attractive entry for the treatment of metabolic disease. Here, we show that structure-based optimizations of a molecular glue tool compound led not only to more potent ChREBPα/14-3-3 PPI stabilizers but also for the first time cellular active compounds. In primary human β-cells, the most active compound stabilized the ChREBPα/14-3-3 interaction and thus induced cytoplasmic retention of ChREBPα, resulting in highly efficient β-cell protection from glucolipotoxicity while maintaining β-cell identity. This study may thus not only provide the basis for the development of a unique class of compounds for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes but also showcases an alternative 'molecular glue' approach for achieving small molecule control of notoriously difficult targetable TFs.

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