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Lipid transfer proteins mediate inter-organelle transport of membrane lipids at organelle contact sites in cells, playing fundamental roles in the lipidome and membrane biogenesis in eukaryotes. We previously developed a ceramide-mimetic compound as a potent inhibitor of the ceramide transport protein CERT. Here we develop CERT inhibitors with structures unrelated to ceramide. To this aim, we identify a seed compound with no ceramide-like structure but with the capability of forming a hydrogen-bonding network in the ceramide-binding START domain, by virtual screening of ~3 × 106 compounds. We also establish a surface plasmon resonance-based system to directly determine the affinity of compounds for the START domain. Then, we subject the seed compound to a series of in silico docking simulations, efficient chemical synthesis, affinity analysis, protein-ligand co-crystallography, and various in vivo assays. This strategy allows us to obtain ceramide-unrelated compounds that potently inhibited the function of CERT in human cultured cells.


  • Communications Chemistry

    Communications Chemistry (2), 20, 2019-02-20

    Springer Nature


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