Recent Publications

Reevaluating the Substrate Specificity of the L-Type Amino Acid Transporter (LAT1)

Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 2018,  DOI: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.8b01007

 The L-type amino acid transporter 1 (LAT1, SLC7A5) transports essential  amino acids across the blood–brain barrier (BBB) and into cancer cells.  To utilize LAT1 for drug delivery, potent amino acid promoieties are  desired, as prodrugs must compete with millimolar concentrations of  endogenous amino acids. To better understand ligand–transporter  interactions that could improve potency, we developed structural LAT1  models to guide the design of substituted analogues of phenylalanine and  histidine. Furthermore, we evaluated the structure–activity  relationship (SAR) for both enantiomers of naturally occurring LAT1  substrates. Analogues were tested in cis-inhibition and trans-stimulation  cell assays to determine potency and uptake rate. Surprisingly, LAT1  can transport amino acid-like substrates with wide-ranging polarities  including those containing ionizable substituents. Additionally, the  rate of LAT1 transport was generally nonstereoselective even though  enantiomers likely exhibit different binding modes. Our findings have  broad implications to the development of new treatments for brain  disorders and cancer. 

LAT1 activity of carboxylic acid bioisosteres: Evaluation of hydroxamic acids as substrates

Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 2016, 26, 5000-06

Large neutral amino acid transporter 1 (LAT1) is a solute carrier protein located primarily in the blood–brain barrier (BBB) that offers the potential to deliver drugs to the brain. It is also up-regulated in cancer cells, as part of a tumor’s increased metabolic demands. Previously, amino acid prodrugs have been shown to be transported by LAT1. Carboxylic acid bioisosteres may afford prodrugs with an altered physicochemical and pharmacokinetic profile than those derived from natural amino acids, allowing for higher brain or tumor levels of drug and/or lower toxicity. The effect of replacing phenylalanine’s carboxylic acid with a tetrazole, acylsulfonamide and hydroxamic acid (HA) bioisostere was examined. Compounds were tested for their ability to be LAT1 substrates using both cis-inhibition and trans-stimulation cell assays. As HA-Phe demonstrated weak substrate activity, its structure–activity relationship (SAR) was further explored by synthesis and testing of HA derivatives of other LAT1 amino acid substrates (i.e., Tyr, Leu, Ile, and Met). The potential for a false positive in the trans-stimulation assay caused by parent amino acid was evaluated by conducting compound stability experiments for both HA-Leu and the corresponding methyl ester derivative. We concluded that HA’s are transported by LAT1. In addition, our results lend support to a recent account that amino acid esters are LAT1 substrates, and that hydrogen bonding may be as important as charge for interaction with the transporter binding site.

LAT-1 Activity of meta-Substituted Phenylalanine and Tyrosine Analogs

Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 2016, 26,  2616-21

The transporter protein Large-neutral Amino Acid Transporter 1 (LAT-1, SLC7A5) is responsible for transporting amino acids such as tyrosine and phenylalanine as well as thyroid hormones, and it has been exploited as a drug delivery mechanism. Recently its role in cancer has become increasingly appreciated, as it has been found to be up-regulated in many different tumor types, and its expression levels have been correlated with prognosis. Substitution at the meta position of aromatic amino acids has been reported to increase affinity for LAT-1; however, the SAR for this position has not previously been explored. Guided by newly refined computational models of the binding site, we hypothesized that groups capable of filling a hydrophobic pocket would increase binding to LAT-1, resulting in improved substrates relative to parent amino acid. Tyrosine and phenylalanine analogs substituted at the meta position with halogens, alkyl and aryl groups were synthesized and tested in cis-inhibition and trans-stimulation cell assays to determine activity. Contrary to our initial hypothesis we found that lipophilicity was correlated with diminished substrate activity and increased inhibition of the transporter. The synthesis and SAR of meta-substituted phenylalanine and tyrosine analogs is described.