Drugging the Sarcomere, a Delicate Balance: Position of N-Terminal Charge of the Inhibitor W7

Fangze Cai, Thomas Kampourakis, Kieran T. Cockburn, Brian D. Sykes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


W7 is a sarcomere inhibitor that decreases the calcium sensitivity of force development in cardiac muscle. W7 binds to the interface of the regulatory domain of cardiac troponin C (cNTnC) and the switch region of troponin I (cTnI), decreasing the binding of cTnI to cNTnC, presumably by electrostatic repulsion between the -NH3+ group of W7 and basic amino acids in cTnI. W7 analogs with a -CO2- tail are inactive. To evaluate the importance of the location of the charged -NH3+, we used a series of compounds W4, W6, W8, and W9, which have three less, one less, one more, and two more methylene groups in the tail region than W7. W6, W8, and W9 all bind tighter to cNTnC-cTnI chimera (cChimera) than W7, while W4 binds weaker. W4 and, strikingly, W6 have no effect on calcium sensitivity of force generation, while W8 and W9 decrease calcium sensitivity, but less than W7. The structures of the cChimera-W6 and cChimera-W8 complexes reveal that W6 and W8 bind to the same hydrophobic cleft as W7, with the aliphatic tail taking a similar route to the surface. NMR relaxation data show that internal flexibility in the tail of W7 is very limited. Alignment of the cChimera-W7 structure with the recent cryoEM structures of the cardiac sarcomere in the diastolic and systolic states reveals the critical location of the amino group. Small molecule induced structural changes can therefore affect the tightly balanced equilibrium between tethered components required for rapid contraction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1495-1504
Number of pages10
JournalAcs Chemical Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2022


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