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Structure–activity Relationships of Glutathione Peroxidase 4 Inhibitor Warheads

submitted on 16.04.2020, 01:58 and posted on 20.04.2020, 06:13 by John Eaton, Laura Furst, Luke Cai, Vasanthi S. Viswanathan, Stuart L. Schreiber

Direct inhibition of GPX4 requires covalent modification of the active-site selenocysteine. While phenotypic screening has revealed that activated alkyl chlorides and masked nitrile-oxides can inhibit GPX4 covalently, a systematic assessment of potential electrophilic warheads with the capacity to inhibit cellular GPX4 has been lacking. Here we survey more than 25 electrophilic warheads across several distinct GPX4-targeting scaffolds. Surprisingly, we find that electrophiles with attenuated reactivity compared to chloroacetamides are unable to target GPX4. The highly reactive propiolamide warheads we uncover in this study highlight the potential need for masking strategies similar to those we have described for nitrile-oxide-based GPX4 inhibitors. Finally, our observations that there are spatial requirements between warhead and scaffold for achieving optimal GPX4 targeting and that certain low-molecular-weight analogs inhibit GPX4 with selectivity suggest that rational design of GPX4 inhibitors may be a productive approach. The generation of ligand-bound crystal structures to facilitate such studies should therefore be prioritized by the field.


Email Address of Submitting Author



Broad Institute


United States

ORCID For Submitting Author


Declaration of Conflict of Interest

S.L.S. serves on the Board of Directors of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (“GNF”); is a shareholder and serves on the Board of Directors of Jnana Therapeutics; is a shareholder of Forma Therapeutics; is a shareholder and advises Kojin Therapeutics, Kisbee Therapeutics, Decibel Therapeutics and Eikonizo Therapeutics; serves on the Scientific Advisory Boards of Eisai Co., Ltd., Ono Pharma Foundation, Exo Therapeutics, and F-Prime Capital Partners; and is a Novartis Faculty Scholar.

Version Notes

v1 – Original Submission


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