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VU6036720: The First Potent and Selective In Vitro Inhibitor of Heteromeric Kir4.1/5.1 Inward Rectifier Potassium Channels. Mol Pharmacol 2022 May;101(5):357-370



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Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85128248706 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   3 Citations


Heteromeric Kir4.1/Kir5.1 (KCNJ10/KCNJ16) inward rectifier potassium (Kir) channels play key roles in the brain and kidney, but pharmacological tools for probing their physiology and therapeutic potential have not been developed. Here, we report the discovery, in a high-throughput screening of 80,475 compounds, of the moderately potent and selective inhibitor VU0493690, which we selected for characterization and chemical optimization. VU0493690 concentration-dependently inhibits Kir4.1/5.1 with an IC50 of 0.96 μM and exhibits at least 10-fold selectivity over Kir4.1 and ten other Kir channels. Multidimensional chemical optimization of VU0493690 led to the development of VU6036720, the most potent (IC50 = 0.24 μM) and selective (>40-fold over Kir4.1) Kir4.1/5.1 inhibitor reported to date. Cell-attached patch single-channel recordings revealed that VU6036720 inhibits Kir4.1/5.1 activity through a reduction of channel open-state probability and single-channel current amplitude. Elevating extracellular potassium ion by 20 mM shifted the IC50 6.8-fold, suggesting that VU6036720 is a pore blocker that binds in the ion-conduction pathway. Mutation of the "rectification controller" asparagine 161 to glutamate (N161E), which is equivalent to small-molecule binding sites in other Kir channels, led to a strong reduction of inhibition by VU6036720. Renal clearance studies in mice failed to show a diuretic response that would be consistent with inhibition of Kir4.1/5.1 in the renal tubule. Drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics profiling revealed that high VU6036720 clearance and plasma protein binding may prevent target engagement in vivo. In conclusion, VU6036720 represents the current state-of-the-art Kir4.1/5.1 inhibitor that should be useful for probing the functions of Kir4.1/5.1 in vitro and ex vivo. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Heteromeric inward rectifier potassium (Kir) channels comprising Kir4.1 and Kir5.1 subunits play important roles in renal and neural physiology and may represent inhibitory drug targets for hypertension and edema. Herein, we employ high-throughput compound library screening, patch clamp electrophysiology, and medicinal chemistry to develop and characterize the first potent and specific in vitro inhibitor of Kir4.1/5.1, VU6036720, which provides proof-of-concept that drug-like inhibitors of this channel may be developed.

Author List

McClenahan SJ, Kent CN, Kharade SV, Isaeva E, Williams JC, Han C, Terker A, Gresham R 3rd, Lazarenko RM, Days EL, Romaine IM, Bauer JA, Boutaud O, Sulikowski GA, Harris R, Weaver CD, Staruschenko A, Lindsley CW, Denton JS


Olena Isaeva PhD Assistant Professor in the Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Gene Library
High-Throughput Screening Assays
Potassium Channel Blockers
Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying