Supplementary Material for: Molecular Insights into hERG Potassium Channel Blockade by Lubeluzole

Background/Aims: Lubeluzole is a benzothiazole derivative that has shown neuroprotective properties in preclinical models of ischemic stroke. However, clinical research on lubeluzole is now at a standstill, since lubeluzole seems to be associated with the acquired long QT syndrome and ventricular arrhythmias. Since the cardiac cellular effects of lubeluzole have not been described thus far, an explanation for the lubeluzole-induced QT interval prolongation is lacking. Methods: We tested the affinity of lubeluzole, its enantiomer, and the racemate for hERG channel using the patch-clamp technique. We synthesized and tested two simplified model compounds corresponding to two moieties included in the lubeluzole structure. The obtained experimental results were rationalized by docking simulation on the recently reported cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of hERG. Group efficiency analysis was performed in order to individuate the fragment most contributing to binding. Results: We found that lubeluzole and its R enantiomer are highly potent inhibitors of human ether-ago-go-related gene (hERG) channel with an IC50 value of 12.9 ± 0.7 nM and 11.3 ± 0.8 nM, respectively. In the presence of lubeluzole, steady-state activation and inactivation of hERG channel were shifted to more negative potentials and inactivation kinetics was accelerated. Mutations of aromatic residues (Y652A and F656A) in the channel inner cavity significantly reduced the inhibitory effect of lubeluzole. Molecular docking simulations performed on the near atomic resolution cryo-electron microscopy structures of hERG supported the role of Y652 and F656 as the main contributors to high affinity binding. Group efficiency analysis indicated that both 1,3-benzothiazol-2-amine and 3-aryloxy-2-propanolamine moieties contribute to drug binding with the former giving higher contribution. Conclusions: This study suggests the possibility to modulate lubeluzole hERG blockade by introducing suitable substituents onto one or both constituting portions of the parent compound in order to either reduce potency (i. e. torsadogenic potential) or potentiate affinity (useful for class III antiarrhythmic and anticancer agent development).