An assay for DNA polymerase β lyase inhibitors that engage the catalytic nucleophile for binding

Sasha M. Daskalova, Brian M. Eisenhauer, Mingxuan Gao, Xizhi Feng, Xun Ji, Qi Cheng, Nour Eddine Fahmi, Omar M. Khdour, Shengxi Chen, Sidney M. Hecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


DNA polymerase β (Pol β) repairs cellular DNA damage. When such damage is inflicted upon the DNA in tumor cells treated with DNA targeted antitumor agents, Pol β thus diminishes their efficacy. Accordingly, this enzyme has long been a target for antitumor therapy. Although numerous inhibitors of the lyase activity of the enzyme have been reported, none has yet proven adequate for development as a therapeutic agent. In the present study, we developed a new strategy to identify lyase inhibitors that critically engage the lyase active site primary nucleophile Lys72 as part of the binding interface. This involves a parallel evaluation of the effect of the inhibitors on the wild-type DNA polymerase β (Pol β) and Pol β modified with a lysine analogue at position 72. A model panel of five structurally diverse lyase inhibitors identified in our previous studies (only one of which has been published) with unknown modes of binding were used for testing, and one compound, cis-9,10-epoxyoctadecanoic acid, was found to have the desired characteristics. This finding was further corroborated by in silico docking, demonstrating that the predominant mode of binding of the inhibitor involves an important electrostatic interaction between the oxygen atom of the epoxy group and Nε of the main catalytic nucleophile, Lys72. The strategy, which is designed to identify compounds that engage certain structural elements of the target enzyme, could find broader application for identification of ligands with predetermined sites of binding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115642
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Active site interaction
  • Enzyme modification
  • Lyase inhibitor
  • Non-proteinogenic amino acid
  • Targeted inhibitor selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'An assay for DNA polymerase β lyase inhibitors that engage the catalytic nucleophile for binding'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this