iScience. 2023 Sep 17;26(10):107916. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2023.107916. eCollection 2023 Oct 20.
We identified cytoprotective small molecules (CSMs) by a cell-based high-throughput screening of Bax inhibitors. Through a medicinal chemistry program, M109S was developed, which is orally bioactive and penetrates the blood-brain/retina barriers. M109S protected retinal cells in ocular disease mouse models. M109S directly interacted with Bax and inhibited the conformational change and mitochondrial translocation of Bax. M109S inhibited ABT-737-induced apoptosis both in Bax-only and Bak-only mouse embryonic fibroblasts. M109S also inhibited apoptosis induced by staurosporine, etoposide, and obatoclax. M109S decreased maximal mitochondrial oxygen consumption rate and reactive oxygen species production, whereas it increased glycolysis. These effects on cellular metabolism may contribute to the cytoprotective activity of M109S. M109S is a novel small molecule protecting cells from mitochondria-dependent apoptosis both in vitro and in vivo. M109S has the potential to become a research tool for studying cell death mechanisms and to develop therapeutics targeting mitochondria-dependent cell death pathway.