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Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a platform for assessing sphingolipid lipid kinase inhibitors
Successful medicinal chemistry campaigns to discover and optimize sphingosine kinase inhibitors require a robust assay for screening chemical libraries and for determining rank order potencies. Existing assays for these enzymes are laborious, expensive and/or low throughput. The toxicity of excessive levels of phosphorylated sphingoid bases for the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, affords an assay wherein inhibitors added to the culture media rescue growth in a dose-dependent fashion. Herein, we describe our adaptation of a simple, inexpensive, and high throughput assay for assessing inhibitors of sphingosine kinase types 1 and 2 as well as ceramide kinase and for testing enzymatic activity of sphingosine kinase type 2 mutants. The assay was validated using recombinant enzymes and generally agrees with the rank order of potencies of existing inhibitors.