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Atypical protein kinase C (aPKCs) serve key functions in embryonic development by regulating apical-basal polarity. Previous studies have shed light on their roles during adulthood, especially in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Although the crystal structure of PKCι has been resolved, an agonist of aPKCs remains to be discovered. In the present study, by using the Discovery Studio program and LibDock methodology, a small molecule library (K66-X4436 KINA Set) of compounds were screened for potential binding to PKCι. Subsequently, the computational docking results were validated using affinity selection-mass spectrometry, before in vitro kinase activity was used to determine the function of the hit compounds. A cell-based model assay that can mimic the pathology of AD was then established and used to assess the function of these hit compounds. As a result, the aPKC agonist Z640 was identified, which could bind to PKCι in silico, in vitro and in this cell-based model. Z640 was further confirmed as a non-selective aPKC agonist that can activate the kinase activity of both PKCι and PKCζ. In the cell-based assay, Z640 was found to protect neuronal cell lines from amyloid-β (Aβ) oligomer-induced cell death by reducing reactive oxygen species production and restore mitochondrial function. In addition, Z640 could reduce Aβ40 generation in a dose-dependent manner and shift amyloid precursor protein processing towards the non-amyloid pathway. To conclude, the present study is the first, to the best of the authors' knowledge to identify an aPKC agonist by combining computer-assisted drug discovery and cell-based assays. The present study also revealed that aPKC agonists have therapeutic potential for the treatment of AD.


This work was originally published in Molecular Medicine Reports, available at doi: 10.3892/mmr.2022.12669

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License.



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