Comparative analysis of small molecules and histone substrate analogues as LSD1 lysine demethylase inhibitors

Jeffrey C. Culhane, Dongqing Wang, Paul M. Yen, Philip A. Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


LSD1 is a flavin-dependent histone demethylase that oxidatively removes methyl groups from Lys-4 of histone H3. LSD1 belongs to the amine oxidase enzyme superfamily which utilize molecular oxygen to transform amines to iminjes that are hydrolytically cleaved to formaldehyde. In prior studies, it has been shown that monoamine oxidase inhibitory scaffolds such as propargylamines and cyclopropylamines can serve as mechanism-based inactivators of LSD1. Propargylamine-histone H3 peptide analogues are potent LSD1 inhibitors, whereas small molecule antidepressant MAO acetylenic inhibitors like pargyline do not inhibit LSD1. In contrast, the small molecule MAO cyclopropylamine inhibitor tranylcypromine is a timedependent LSD1 inhibitor but exo-cyclopropylamine- peptide substrate analogue is not. To provide further insight into small molecule versus peptide relationships in LSD1 inhibition, herein we further our analysis of warheads in peptide scaffolds to include the chlorovinyl, endo-cyclopropylamine, and hydrazinefunctionalities as LSD1 inactivators. We find that chlorovinyl-H3 is a mechanism-based LSD1 inactivator whereas encto-cyclopropylamine-H3 does not show time-dependent inactivation. The hydrazine-H3 was shown to be the most potent LSD1 suicide inhibitor yet reported, more than 20-fold more efficient in inhibiting demethylation than propargylamine-H3 derivatives. We re-explored MAO antidepressant agent phenelzine (phenethylhydrazine), previously reported to be a weak LSD1 inhibitor, and found that it is far more potent than previously appreciated. We show that phenelzine can block histone H3K4Me demethylation in cells, validating it as a pharmacologic tool and potential lead structure for anticancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3164-3176
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 10 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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