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Cercosporamide inhibits bone morphogenetic protein receptor type I kinase activity in zebrafish

By Jelmer Hoeksma, Gerard C.M. van der Zon, Peter ten Dijke, Jeroen den Hertog

Posted 31 May 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.05.29.123588 (published DOI: 10.1242/dmm.045971)

Zebrafish models are well established tools for investigating underlying mechanisms of diseases. Here, we identified cercosporamide, a metabolite from the fungus Ascochyta aquiliqiae, as a potent bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) type I receptor kinase inhibitor through a zebrafish embryo phenotypic screen. The developmental defects in zebrafish, including lack of the ventral fin induced by cercosporamide was strikingly similar as the phenotypes caused by renowned small molecule BMP type I receptor kinase inhibitors and inactivating mutations in zebrafish BMP receptors. In mammalian cell-based assays, cercosporamide blocked BMP/SMAD-dependent transcriptional reporter activity and BMP-induced SMAD1/5-phosphorylation. Biochemical assays with a panel of purified recombinant kinases demonstrated that cercosporamide directly inhibited kinase activity of BMP type I receptors (also called activin receptor-like kinases (ALKs)). In mammalian cells, cercosporamide selectively inhibited constitutively active BMP type I receptor-induced SMAD1/5 phosphorylation. Importantly, cercosporamide rescued the developmental defects caused by constitutively active Alk2 in zebrafish embryos. Taken together, we believe cercosporamide may be the first of a new class of molecules with potential to be developed further for clinical use against diseases that are causally linked to overactivation of BMP receptor signaling, including Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.

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