Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine have agreed to license a subset of AxCell Biosciences’ ProChart database of protein-protein interactions involving the WW domain family, the company said last week.
Led by Marius Sudol, an associate professor in biochemistry and molecular biology at New York City-based Mount Sinai, the researchers will use the protein interaction data to study the binding of ligands to the WW domain of dystrophin, utrophin, beta-dystroglycan, and FE65 proteins, which are believed to be associated with muscular dystrophy, and certain neurodegenerative diseases.
In previous experiments, Sudol’s lab studied a protein involved in Alzheimer’s disease that contained the WW domain, and designed peptides to inhibit the protein’s mechanism of action. Sudol’s current studies of WW-containing proteins involved in muscular dystrophy and related diseases may offer a similar opportunity to develop potential therapeutics, he said in a statement.
Sudol is named on a patent held by Rockefeller University covering the discovery of the WW domain, its ligand, and the applications of the domain in diagnostics and therapeutics. Sudol was not immediately available for comment on his current research.
AxCell had initially recruited Sudol to participate in a seminar series to describe the applications of the company’s data to signal transduction research, and he became interested in AxCell’s proprietary data on the interactions associated with the WW domain, said John Rodwell, AxCell’s president and chief technical officer.
Rodwell said the company does not disclose the cost of accessing the ProChart database.
AxCell has placed particular emphasis on the WW domain because it is representative of larger protein families, and because of its relevance to disease, Rodwell added. “When we first occupied our space and began to industrialize our technology we wanted to attack a medically relevant domain right away, but one that we could use as a model for mapping the entire family,” he said.
The WW domain is also thought to mediate protein interactions in signaling pathways associated with genetic diseases such as Liddle‘s Syndrome, a monogenic form of hypertension.
Last month, AxCell signed an agreement with researchers at the National Cancer Institute to apply the company’s protein interaction data to studies of serine-threonine and tyrosine kinases and their role in signal transduction. In the NCI collaboration, researchers are employing AxCell’s technology for synthesizing peptide fragments as a technique for probing the interactions of specific kinases.
AxCell’s ProChart database is also distributed by InforMax through its GenoMax enterprise bioinformatics platform. — JSM