Cytoplasmic Dynein Antagonists with Improved Potency and Isoform Selectivity

Cytoplasmic dyneins 1 and 2 are related members of the AAA+ superfamily (ATPases associated with diverse cellular activities) that function as the predominant minus-end-directed microtubule motors in eukaryotic cells. Dynein 1 controls mitotic spindle assembly, organelle movement, axonal transport, and other cytosolic, microtubule-guided processes, whereas dynein 2 mediates retrograde trafficking within motile and primary cilia. Small-molecule inhibitors are important tools for investigating motor protein-dependent mechanisms, and ciliobrevins were recently discovered as the first dynein-specific chemical antagonists. Here, we demonstrate that ciliobrevins directly target the heavy chains of both dynein isoforms and explore the structure–activity landscape of these inhibitors <i>in vitro</i> and in cells. In addition to identifying chemical motifs that are essential for dynein blockade, we have discovered analogs with increased potency and dynein 2 selectivity. These antagonists effectively disrupt Hedgehog signaling, intraflagellar transport, and ciliogenesis, making them useful probes of these and other cytoplasmic dynein 2-dependent cellular processes.