The mitochondrial pyruvate carrier (MPC) is an inner-mitochondrial membrane protein complex that has emerged as a drug target for treating a variety of human conditions. A heterodimer of two proteins, MPC1 and MPC2, comprises the functional MPC complex in higher organisms; however, the structure of this complex, including the critical residues that mediate binding of py-ruvate and inhibitors, remain to be determined. Using homology modeling, we identified a putative substrate-binding cavity in the MPC dimer. Three amino acid residues (Phe66 (MPC1) and Asn100 and Lys49 (MPC2)) were validated by mutagenesis experiments to be important for substrate and inhibitor binding. Using this information, we developed a pharmacophore model and then per-formed a virtual screen of a chemical library. We identified five new non-indole MPC inhibitors, four with IC50 values in the nanomolar range that were up to 7-fold more potent than the canonical inhibitor UK-5099. These novel compounds possess drug-like properties and complied with Lipinski’s Rule of Five. They are predicted to have good aqueous solubility, oral bioavailability, and metabolic stability. Collectively, these studies provide important information about the structure-function relationships of the MPC complex and for future drug discovery efforts targeting the MPC.
- Homology modeling
- Mitochondrial pyruvate carrier
- Pharmacophore modeling
- Virtual screening