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Identification of a Specific Inhibitor of nOGA – a Caspase-3 Cleaved O-GlcNAcase Variant during Apoptosis

Jing Li#, Zhonghua Li#, Tiehai Li, Lin Lin, Yan Zhang, Lina Guo, Yan Xu, Wei Zhao*, and Peng Wang*

College of Pharmacy, State Key Laboratory of Medicinal Chemical Biology and Tianjin Key Laboratory of Molecular Drug Research, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China; fax: +86-22-2350-7880; E-mail: wzhao@nankai.edu.cn; pwang@nankai.edu.cn

# These authors contributed equally to this work.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received July 8, 2011; Revision received September 26, 2011
O-Linked N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) modification of serines/threonines on cytoplasmic proteins is a significant signal regulating cellular processes such as cell cycle, cell development, and cell apoptosis. O-GlcNAcase (OGA) is responsible for the removal of O-GlcNAc, and it thus plays a critical role in O-GlcNAc metabolism. Interestingly, OGA can be cleaved by caspase-3 into two fragments during apoptosis, producing an N-terminal fragment (1-413 a.a.), termed nOGA. Here, using 4-MU-GlcNAc (4-methylumbelliferyl 2-acetamido-2-deoxy-β-D-glucopyranoside) as substrate, we found that the nOGA fragment retains high glycosidase activity. To probe the role of nOGA in apoptosis, it is essential to develop a potent and specific nOGA inhibitor. However, many reported inhibitors active at nanomolar concentrations (including PUGNAc, STZ, GlcNAc-statin, and NAG-thiazoline) against full-length OGA were not potent for nOGA. Next, we screened a small triazole-linked carbohydrate library and first identified compound 4 (4-pyridyl-1-(2′-deoxy-2′-acetamido-β-D-glucopyranosyl)-1,2,3-triazole) as a potent and competitive inhibitor for nOGA. This compound shows 15-fold selectivity for nOGA (Ki = 48 μM) over the full-length OGA (Ki = 725 μM) and 10-fold selectivity over human lysosomal β-hexosaminidase A&B (Hex A&B) (Ki = 502 μM). These results reveal that compound 4 can be used as a potent and selective inhibitor for probing the role of nOGA in biological systems.
KEY WORDS: O-GlcNAcase, isoforms, inhibitor, selectivity

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297912020113