By screening an epigenetic compound library, we identified that UNC0638, a highly potent inhibitor of the histone methyltransferases G9a and GLP, was a weak inhibitor of SPIN1 (Spindlin 1), a methyllysine reader protein. Our optimization of this weak hit resulted in the discovery of a potent, selective and cell-active SPIN1 inhibitor, compound 3 (MS31). Compound 3 potently inhibited binding of trimethyllysine-containing peptides to SPIN1, displayed high binding affinity, was highly selective for SPIN1 over other epigenetic readers and writers, directly engaged SPIN1 in cells, and was not toxic to non-tumorigenic cells. The crystal structure of the SPIN1-compound 3 complex indicated that it selectively binds Tudor domain II of SPIN1. We also designed a structurally similar but inactive compound 4 (MS31N) as a negative control. Our results have demonstrated for the first time that potent, selective and cell-active fragment-like inhibitors can be generated by targeting a single Tudor domain.
J Med Chem