C5-substituted 2,4-diaminoquinazoline inhibitors of the decapping scavenger enzyme DcpS (DAQ-DcpSi) have been developed for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which is caused by genetic deficiency in the Survival Motor Neuron (SMN) protein. These compounds are claimed to act as SMN2 transcriptional activators but data underlying that claim are equivocal. In addition it is unclear whether the claimed effects on SMN2 are a direct consequence of DcpS inhibitor or might be a consequence of lysosomotropism, which is known to be neuroprotective. DAQ-DcpSi effects were characterized in cells in vitro utilizing DcpS knockdown and 7-methyl analogues as probes for DcpS vs non-DcpS-mediated effects. We also performed analysis of Smn transcript levels, RNA-Seq analysis of the transcriptome and SMN protein in order to identify affected pathways underlying the therapeutic effect, and studied lysosomotropic and non-lysosomotropic DAQ-DCpSi effects in 2B/- SMA mice. Treatment of cells caused modest and transient SMN2 mRNA increases with either no change or a decrease in SMNΔ7 and no change in SMN1 transcripts or SMN protein. RNA-Seq analysis of DAQ-DcpSi-treated N2a cells revealed significant changes in expression (both up and down) of approximately 2,000 genes across a broad range of pathways. Treatment of 2B/- SMA mice with both lysomotropic and non-lysosomotropic DAQ-DcpSi compounds had similar effects on disease phenotype indicating that the therapeutic mechanism of action is not a consequence of lysosomotropism. In striking contrast to the findings in vitro, Smn transcripts were robustly changed in tissues but there was no increase in SMN protein levels in spinal cord. We conclude that DAQ-DcpSi have reproducible benefit in SMA mice and a broad spectrum of biological effects in vitro and in vivo, but these are complex, context specific, and not the result of simple SMN2 transcriptional activation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas