Chemical Inhibition of ENL/AF9 YEATS Domains in Acute Leukemia

Leopold Garnar-Wortzel, Timothy R. Bishop, Seiya Kitamura, Natalia Milosevich, Joshua N. Asiaban, Xiaoyu Zhang, Qinheng Zheng, Emily Chen, Anissa R. Ramos, Christopher J. Ackerman, Eric N. Hampton, Arnab K. Chatterjee, Travis S. Young, Mitchell V. Hull, K. Barry Sharpless, Benjamin F. Cravatt, Dennis W. Wolan, Michael A. Erb*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Transcriptional coregulators, which mediate chromatin-dependent transcriptional signaling, represent tractable targets to modulate tumorigenic gene expression programs with small molecules. Genetic loss-of-function studies have recently implicated the transcriptional coactivator, ENL, as a selective requirement for the survival of acute leukemia and highlighted an essential role for its chromatin reader YEATS domain. Motivated by these discoveries, we executed a screen of nearly 300,000 small molecules and identified an amido-imidazopyridine inhibitor of the ENL YEATS domain (IC50 = 7 μM). Improvements to the initial screening hit were enabled by adopting and expanding upon a SuFEx-based approach to high-throughput medicinal chemistry, ultimately demonstrating that it is compatible with cell-based drug discovery. Through these efforts, we discovered SR-0813, a potent and selective ENL/AF9 YEATS domain inhibitor (IC50 = 25 nM). Armed with this tool and a first-in-class ENL PROTAC, SR-1114, we detailed the biological response of AML cells to pharmacological ENL disruption for the first time. Most notably, we discovered that ENL YEATS inhibition is sufficient to selectively suppress ENL target genes, including HOXA9/10, MYB, MYC, and a number of other leukemia proto-oncogenes. Cumulatively, our study establishes YEATS domain inhibition as a viable approach to disrupt the pathogenic function of ENL in acute leukemia and provides the first thoroughly characterized chemical probe for the ENL YEATS domain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)815-830
Number of pages16
JournalACS Central Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 26 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Chemistry(all)


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