α-Methylacyl-CoA racemase (AMACR; P504S) catalyses a key step in the degradation of branched-chain fatty acids and is important for the pharmacological activation of Ibuprofen and related drugs. Levels of AMACR are increased in prostate and other cancers, and it is a drug target. Development of AMACR as a drug target is hampered by lack of a convenient assay. AMACR irreversibly catalyses the elimination of HF from 3-fluoro-2-methylacyl-CoA substrates, and this reaction was investigated for use as an assay. Several known inhibitors and alternative substrates reduced conversion of 3-fluoro-2-methyldecanoyl-CoA by AMACR, as determined by 1H NMR. The greatest reduction of activity was observed with known potent inhibitors. A series of novel acyl-CoA esters with aromatic side chains were synthesised for testing as chromophoric substrates. These acyl-CoA esters were converted to unsaturated products by AMACR, but their use was limited by non-enzymatic elimination. Fluoride sensors were also investigated as a method of quantifying released fluoride and thus AMACR activity. These sensors generally suffered from high background signal and lacked reproducibility under the assay conditions. In summary, the elimination reaction can be used to characterise inhibitors, but it was not possible to develop a convenient colorimetric or fluorescent assay using 3-fluoro-2-methylacyl-CoA substrates.
†Electronic supplementary information (ESI) available: 1H NMR spectra of synthesised compounds; details of X-ray crystal structure determination of compound 35; original data for Table 1; plots of fluorescence resulting from reaction of sensors 33 and 34 with fluoride solutions. CCDC 1408401. For ESI and crystallographic data in CIF or other electronic format see DOI: 10.1039/c5ob01541c