Thiol probes to detect electrophilic natural products based on their mechanism of action

Castro-Falcon, G, Hahn D, Reimer D, Hughes CC.  2016.  Thiol probes to detect electrophilic natural products based on their mechanism of action. Acs Chemical Biology. 11:2328-2336.

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actinomycete salinispora-tropica, antiinflammatory depsipeptides, covalent modification, marine, molecular-basis, phosphoinositide 3-kinase, proteasome inhibitors, salinosporamide-a, slow-reacting substance, streptomycete, tirandamycin-streptolydigin type


New methods are urgently needed to find novel natural products as structural leads for the development of new drugs against emerging diseases such as cancer and multiresistant bacterial infections. Here we introduce a reactivity-guided drug discovery approach for electrophilic natural products, a therapeutically relevant class of natural products that covalently modify their cellular targets, in crude extracts. Using carefully designed halogenated aromatic reagents, the process furnishes derivatives that are UV-active and highly conspicuous via mass spectrometry by virtue of an isotopically unique bromine or chlorine tag. In addition to the identification of high-value metabolites, the process facilitates the difficult task of structure elucidation by providing derivatives that are primed for X-ray crystallographic analysis. We show that a cysteine probe efficiently and chemoselectively labels enone-, beta-lactam-, and beta-lactone-based electrophilic natural products (parthenolide, andrographolide, wortmannin, penicillin G, salinosporamide), while a thiophenol probe preferentially labels epoxide-based electrophilic natural products (triptolide, epoxomicin, eponemycin, cyclomarin, salinamide). Using the optimized method, we were able to detect and isolate the epoxide-bearing natural product tirandalydigin from Salinispora and thereby link an orphan gene cluster to its gene product.