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Rational Design and Identification of Harmine-Inspired, N-Heterocyclic DYRK1A Inhibitors Employing a Functional Genomic in vivo Drosophila Model System

submitted on 01.04.2021, 19:10 and posted on 15.04.2021, 10:02 by Brandon Ashfeld, Francisco Huizar, Harrison Hill, Jeremiah Zartman, Emily Bacher, Kaitlyn Eckert, Eva Gulotty, Zachary Tucker, Olaf Wiest, Kevin X. Rodriguez
Deregulation of dual-specificity tyrosine phosphorylation-regulated kinase 1A (DYRK1A) plays a significant role in developmental brain defects, early-onset neurodegeneration, neuronal cell loss, and dementia. Herein, we report the discovery of three new classes of N-heterocyclic DYRK1A inhibitors based on the potent, yet toxic kinase inhibitors, harmine and harmol. An initial in vitro evaluation of the small molecule collection assembled revealed that the core heterocyclic motifs benzofuranones, oxindoles, and pyrrolones, showed statistically significant DYRK1A inhibition. Further, the utilization of a low cost, high-throughput functional genomic in vivo model system to identify small molecule inhibitors that normalize DYRK1A overexpression phenotypes is described. This in vivo assay confirmed the in vitro results, and the resulting correspondence validates generated classes as architectural motifs that serve as potential DYRK1A inhibitors. Further expansion and analysis of these core compound structures will allow discovery of safe, more effective chemical inhibitors of DYRK1A to ameliorate phenotypes caused by DYRK1A overexpression.


NSF CHE-1953170

NIH R35GM124935

ND AD&T Discovery Award

Leahy-Filipi Fellowship for Excellence in Neuroscience Research

Interdisciplinary Interface Training Program Grant

CBBI Program and NIH training grant T32GM075762


Email Address of Submitting Author


University of Notre Dame



ORCID For Submitting Author


Declaration of Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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