Thermal Proteome Profiling in Zebrafish Reveals Effects of Napabucasin on Retinoic Acid Metabolism

Niels M Leijten, Petra Bakker, Herman P Spaink, Jeroen den Hertog, Simone Lemeer

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Thermal proteome profiling (TPP) allows for the unbiased detection of drug-target protein engagements in vivo. Traditionally, 1 cell type is used for TPP studies, with the risk of missing important differentially expressed target proteins. The use of whole organisms would circumvent this problem. Zebrafish embryos are amenable to such an approach. Here, we used TPP on whole zebrafish embryo lysate to identify protein targets of napabucasin, a compound that may affect signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) signaling through an ill-understood mechanism. In zebrafish embryos, napabucasin induced developmental defects consistent with inhibition of Stat3 signaling. TPP profiling showed no distinct shift in Stat3 upon napabucasin treatment, but effects were detected on the oxidoreductase, Pora, which might explain effects on Stat3 signaling. Interestingly, thermal stability of several aldehyde dehydrogenases was affected. Moreover, napabucasin activated aldehyde dehydrogenase enzymatic activity in vitro. Aldehyde dehydrogenases have crucial roles in retinoic acid metabolism, and functionally, we validated napabucasin-mediated activation of the retinoic acid pathway in zebrafish in vivo. We conclude that TPP profiling in whole zebrafish embryo lysate is feasible and facilitates direct correlation of in vivo effects of small molecule drugs with their protein targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100033
JournalMolecular and Cellular Proteomics
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Feb 2021


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