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Novel tools to read and write the epigenetic code in inflammation (FWGDekker)
Start date: Dec 1, 2012, End date: Nov 30, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Chronic inflammatory diseases, such as, for example, asthma, afflict millions of people worldwide. Nevertheless, the molecular mechanisms that drive inflammation remain poorly understood. Enzymes play a crucial regulatory role in inflammation and represent potential drug targets. Nevertheless, the activities of these enzymes are poorly studied due to a lack of convenient tools for modulation and detection. The importance of this issue is demonstrated by my previous work on small molecule probes for protein palmitoylation. It becomes increasingly clear that the slow advance in the development of chemistry-based methods to study enzyme activity in its physiological context delays drug discovery.To address this problem further, I will develop novel detection methods and small molecule inhibitors to study inflammatory signal transduction pathways. Protein acetylations at lysine residues have a broad regulatory scope. Acetylations of histones form a major part of the histone code for epigenetic regulation of gene-transcription. In addition, reversible acetylations of non-histone proteins proved to be crucial for regulation of nuclear factor kB (NF kB) mediated gene transcription.I aim to study the role of acetylations of histones and other proteins in NF kB mediated gene transcription. Firstly, I will develop a novel bioorthogonal ligation strategy for chemical labeling of protein acetylation in cells (aim 1) by employing the oxidative Heck reaction. Secondly, I will be the first to systematically investigate changes in protein acetylation in response to activation of the NF kB pathway using a proteomics strategy (aim 2). Thirdly, I will develop small molecule inhibitors of acetyltransferases and study their impact on acetylations that regulate the NF kB signaling pathway (aim 3).Ultimately, these newly developed detection methods and small molecule inhibitors open up opportunities for drug discovery aimed at epigenetic regulation of NF kB mediated inflammation.
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