Research in the Frederich Lab focuses on the chemistry and biology of natural products that modulate protein-protein interactions (PPIs). Our long-term objective is to understand and enhance the pharmacology of our targets using chemical synthesis. In this proposal, we investigate a family of complex diterpene glycosides with demonstrated efficacy for 14-3-3 PPIs in human cell culture. 14-3-3 proteins are a family of adapter molecules that regulate several hundred client proteins (CPs) by forming binary protein complexes. This expansive 14-3-3 interactome is integrated into the phosphorylation- depended signaling pathways that regulate cellular homeostasis. Dysregulation of 14-3-3/CP interactions has been implicated in the development of cancer and neurological disorders. Thus, small-molecules targeting 14- 3-3 functions harbor special potential as tools to interrogate 14-3-3/CP interactions in biochemical pathways. They also provide entry to lead structures for the development of new therapy modalities. The diterpene glycosides fusicoccin A (FC) and cotylenin A (CN) are archetypal fusicoccanes that stabilize 14-3-3 PPIs in vivo. FC engages a select set of 14-3-3/CP interactions and prolongs the lifetime of these PPIs by forming contacts with both proteins. This biology seeded the development of fusicoccin-THF, a semi- synthetic analog of FC with peripheral structural modifications that alter binding affinity and selectivity for 14-3- 3 PPIs. These observations suggest to us that the shared carbocyclic nucleus of FC and CN is a privileged motif for the design of selective 14-3-3 PPI stabilizers. However, entry to this substructure is hampered by its stereochemical complexity and the only existing means to access FC and CN is from producing fungi. We propose to use chemical synthesis as a tool to harness the potentially impactful pharmacology of these natural products. The objective of Aim 1 is to establish a synthetic blueprint for the rapid and modular assembly of FC and CN. In preliminary studies, we have developed photochemistry to flexibly prepare the carbocyclic core of our targets.
In Aim 1, we will adapt and extend this chemistry to complete, for the first time, fully synthetic access to these diterpene glycosides. The objective of Aim 2 is to test whether the FC nucleus can scaffold 14-3-3 PPI stabilizers with superior selectivity profiles. In support of this work we have established biophysical tools to assay functional 14-3-3/CP interactions in the presence or absence of synthetic compounds. Guided by computational models, we propose custom syntheses of ligands targeting three regulatory 14-3-3 PPIs involved in cancer biology. The proposed research is significant to human disease because it will provide refined molecular tools to modulate 14-3-3 functions that modify disease pathways. This work is significant to fundamental chemical science because it will establish a versatile strategy to prepare fusicoccanes with diverse functional properties. This proposal is innovative because stabilizing protein complexes is an underexplored strategy in small-molecule PPI modulation.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed research is relevant to public health because accumulating evidence supports the idea that dysregulation of 14-3-3CP interactions contributes to the development of cancer and neurological disorders. The objective of this proposal is use complex natural products as a starting point to develop chemical tools that would serve as valuable probes to interrogate the role of 14-3-3 dynamics in disease pathobiology. For this reason, the proposed research is relevant to the NIH's mission of developing fundamental knowledge that enhances human health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Synthetic and Biological Chemistry A Study Section (SBCA)
Program Officer
Yang, Jiong
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Florida State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Salvati, Anna E; Law, James A; Liriano, Josue et al. (2018) Modular access to functionalized 5-8-5 fused ring systems via a photoinduced cycloisomerization reaction. Chem Sci 9:5389-5393