Tauopathies are neurological disorders characterized by intracellular tau deposits forming neurofibrillary tangles, neuropil threads, or other disease-specific aggregates composed of the protein tau. Tauopathy disorders include frontotemporal lobar degeneration, corticobasal degeneration, Pick’s disease, and the largest cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease. The lack of disease-modifying therapeutic strategies to address tauopathies remains a critical unmet need in dementia care. Thus, novel broad-spectrum tau-targeted therapeutics could have a profound impact in multiple tauopathy disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. Here we have designed a drug discovery paradigm to identify inhibitors of the pathological tau-enabling protein, MSUT2. We previously showed that activity of the RNA-binding protein MSUT2 drives tauopathy, including tau-mediated neurodegeneration and cognitive dysfunction, in mouse models. Thus, we hypothesized that MSUT2 inhibitors could be therapeutic for tauopathy disorders. Our pipeline for MSUT2 inhibitory compound identification included a primary AlphaScreen, followed by dose–response validation, a secondary fluorescence polarization orthogonal assay, a tertiary specificity screen, and a preliminary toxicity screen. Our work here serves as a proof-of-principle methodology for finding specific inhibitors of the poly(A) RNA-binding protein MSUT2 interaction. Here we identify 4,4′-diisothiocyanostilbene-2,2′-sulfonic acid (DIDS) as a potential tool compound for future work probing the mechanism of MSUT2-induced tau pathology.
SLAS Discovery, Volume 26, March 2021,