Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a versatile protein that plays a role in inflammation, autoimmune diseases and cancers. Development of novel inhibitors will enable further exploration of MIF as a drug target. In this study, we investigated structure-activity relationships of MIF inhibitors using a MIF tautomerase activity assay to measure binding. Importantly, we notified that transition metals such as copper (II) and zinc (II) interfere with the MIF tautomerase activity under the assay conditions applied. EDTA was added to the assay buffer to avoid interference of residual heavy metals with tautomerase activity measurements. Using these assay conditions the structure-activity relationships for MIF binding of a series of triazole-phenols was explored. The most potent inhibitors in this series provided activities in the low micromolar range. Enzyme kinetic analysis indicates competitive binding that proved reversible. Binding to the enzyme was confirmed using a microscale thermophoresis (MST) assay. Molecular modelling was used to rationalize the observed structure-activity relationships. The most potent inhibitor 2d inhibited proliferation of A549 cells in a clonogenic assay. In addition, 2d attenuated MIF induced ERK phosphorylation in A549 cells. Altogether, this study provides insights in the structure-activity relationships for MIF binding of triazole-phenols and further validates this class of compounds as MIF binding agents in cell-based studies.
Xiao, Z., Fokkens, M., Chen, D., Kok, T., Proietti, G., van Merkerk, R., … Dekker, F. J. (2020). Structure-activity relationships for binding of 4-substituted triazole-phenols to macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF). European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 186. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejmech.2019.111849