Inhibition of nNOS-PSD95 interactions: A novel approach to developing treatments

Project: Research project

Project Details


Project Summary
The present application Inhibition of nNOS-PSD95 interactions: A novel approach to developing treatments for
PTSD addresses the critical need for efficacious treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A key
neural signaling cascade activated by a trauma experience is initiated by the excitatory neurotransmitter
glutamate. Activation of the NMDA receptor, a glutamate receptor subtype, results in subsequent activation of
the enzyme neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) and, ultimately, an increase in the production of the signaling
molecule nitric oxide (NO). These events trigger aberrant synaptic plasticity that is implicated in the initiation and
maintenance of PTSD. Postsynaptic density protein 95 (PSD95) targets nNOS to the NMDA receptor and is,
therefore, required for NMDA receptor activation of nNOS. Our group first showed that the small molecule
inhibitor IC87201 disrupts the functional protein-protein interaction between nNOS and PSD95 in vitro and
attenuates NMDA receptor dependent hyperalgesia in vivo. We have now shown that IC87201 and a related
analog, ZL006, block the long-term encoding of conditioned fear even after a fear conditioning session has
occurred (i.e. post-trauma). Unlike NMDA receptor antagonists, these protein interaction inhibitors are
efficacious without impairing motor movement or memory. Thus, disruption of signal compartmentalization
represents an innovative approach to develop novel treatments for anxiety disorders with fewer side-effects. We
have assembled a collaborative team to conduct work proposed under two Specific Aims. Aim 1 will test the
benefits of inhibiting nNOS-PSD95 interactions in preclinical models of PTSD symptoms. Aim 2 will study the
neural substrate mediating effects of nNOS-PSD95 protein-protein interaction inhibitors on conditioned fear.
Results from this study will lay the foundation for preclinical development of nNOS targeting inhibitors as novel
treatments for PTSD. These studies are expected to validate the disruption of signal protein
compartmentalization as an innovative and feasible approach to drug development. The development of effective
pharmacotherapies with novel chemical structures that possess limited side-effect profiles is expected to drive
down escalating health care costs and alleviate unnecessary suffering in PTSD patients.
Effective start/end date4/25/143/31/16


  • National Institutes of Health: $195,000.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $234,000.00


  • Medicine(all)

Fingerprint Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.