Careful regulation of mRNA half-lives is a fundamental mechanism allowing cells to quickly respond to changing environmental conditions. The mRNA-binding Hu proteins are important for stabilization of short-lived mRNAs. Here we describe the identification and mechanistic characterization of the first low-molecular-weight inhibitors for Hu protein R (HuR) from microbial broths (Actinomyces sp.): dehydromutactin (1), MS-444 (2) and okicenone (3). These compounds interfere with HuR RNA binding, HuR trafficking, cytokine expression and T-cell activation. A mathematical and experimental analysis of the compounds' mode of action suggests that HuR homodimerizes before RNA binding and that the compounds interfere with the formation of HuR dimers. Our results demonstrate the chemical drugability of HuR; to our knowledge HuR is the first example of a drugable protein within the Hu family. MS-444, dehydromutactin and okicenone may become valuable tools for studying HuR function. An assessment of HuR inhibition as a central node in malignant processes might open up new conceptual routes toward combatting cancer.
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The authors thank R. Amstutz and J.E. DeVries for continuous support, and P. Fürst for reviewing the manuscript. This work was supported by a scholarship from the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
All authors are employed by Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. K.M. was employed by Novartis but is now retired.
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Meisner, NC., Hintersteiner, M., Mueller, K. et al. Identification and mechanistic characterization of low-molecular-weight inhibitors for HuR. Nat Chem Biol 3, 508–515 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchembio.2007.14
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