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Mechanism of action deconvolution of the small-molecule pathological tau aggregation inhibitor Anle138b.

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Hosseini-Gerami, Layla 
Ficulle, Elena 
Humphryes-Kirilov, Neil 
Airey, David C 
Scherschel, James 


BACKGROUND: A key histopathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the presence of neurofibrillary tangles of aggregated microtubule-associated protein tau in neurons. Anle138b is a small molecule which has previously shown efficacy in mice in reducing tau aggregates and rescuing AD disease phenotypes. METHODS: In this work, we employed bioinformatics analysis-including pathway enrichment and causal reasoning-of an in vitro tauopathy model. The model consisted of cultured rat cortical neurons either unseeded or seeded with tau aggregates derived from human AD patients, both of which were treated with Anle138b to generate hypotheses for its mode of action. In parallel, we used a collection of human target prediction models to predict direct targets of Anle138b based on its chemical structure. RESULTS: Combining the different approaches, we found evidence supporting the hypothesis that the action of Anle138b involves several processes which are key to AD progression, including cholesterol homeostasis and neuroinflammation. On the pathway level, we found significantly enriched pathways related to these two processes including those entitled "Superpathway of cholesterol biosynthesis" and "Granulocyte adhesion and diapedesis". With causal reasoning, we inferred differential activity of SREBF1/2 (involved in cholesterol regulation) and mediators of the inflammatory response such as NFKB1 and RELA. Notably, our findings were also observed in Anle138b-treated unseeded neurons, meaning that the inferred processes are independent of tau pathology and thus represent the direct action of the compound in the cellular system. Through structure-based ligand-target prediction, we predicted the intracellular cholesterol carrier NPC1 as well as NF-κB subunits as potential targets of Anle138b, with structurally similar compounds in the model training set known to target the same proteins. CONCLUSIONS: This study has generated feasible hypotheses for the potential mechanism of action of Anle138b, which will enable the development of future molecular interventions aiming to reduce tau pathology in AD patients.



Bioinformatics, Machine learning, Network biology, Tau, Transcriptomics, Humans, Mice, Rats, Animals, tau Proteins, Alzheimer Disease, Tauopathies, Pyrazoles, Benzodioxoles

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Alzheimers Res Ther

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BioMed Central
BBSRC (2110926)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/M011194/1)
BBSRC BB/M011194/1