Rational design and screening of peptide-based inhibitors of heat shock factor 1 (HSF1).
Heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) is a stress-responsive transcription factor that regulates expression of protein chaperones and cell survival factors. In cancer, HSF1 plays a unique role, hijacking the normal stress response to drive a cancer-specific transcriptional program. These observations suggest that HSF1 inhibitors could be promising therapeutics. However, HSF1 is activated through a complex mechanism, which involves release of a negative regulatory domain, leucine zipper 4 (LZ4), from a masked oligomerization domain (LZ1-3), and subsequent binding of the oligomer to heat shock elements (HSEs) in HSF1-responsive genes. Recent crystal structures have suggested that HSF1 oligomers are held together by extensive, buried contact surfaces, making it unclear whether there are any possible binding sites for inhibitors. Here, we have rationally designed a series of peptide-based molecules based on the LZ4 and LZ1-3 motifs. Using a plate-based, fluorescence polarization (FP) assay, we identified a minimal region of LZ4 that suppresses binding of HSF1 to the HSE. Using this information, we converted this peptide into a tracer and used it to understand how binding of LZ4 to LZ1-3 suppresses HSF1 activation. Together, these results suggest a previously unexplored avenue in the development of HSF1 inhibitors. Furthermore, the findings highlight how native interactions can inspire the design of inhibitors for even the most challenging protein-protein interactions (PPIs).
Ran, X; Burchfiel, ET; Dong, B; Rettko, NJ; Dunyak, BM; Shao, H; Thiele, DJ; Gestwicki, JE
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