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The mammalian membrane-bound O-acyltransferase (MBOAT) superfamily is involved in biological processes including growth, development and appetite sensing. MBOATs are attractive drug targets in cancer and obesity; however, information on the binding site and molecular mechanisms underlying small-molecule inhibition is elusive. This study reports rational development of a photochemical probe to interrogate a novel small-molecule inhibitor binding site in the human MBOAT Hedgehog acyltransferase (HHAT). Structure-activity relationship investigation identified single enantiomer IMP-1575, the most potent HHAT inhibitor reported to-date, and guided design of photocrosslinking probes that maintained HHAT-inhibitory potency. Photocrosslinking and proteomic sequencing of HHAT delivered identification of the first small-molecule binding site in a mammalian MBOAT. Topology and homology data suggested a potential mechanism for HHAT inhibition which was confirmed by kinetic analysis. Our results provide an optimal HHAT tool inhibitor IMP-1575 (Ki =38 nM) and a strategy for mapping small molecule interaction sites in MBOATs.

Original publication




Journal article


Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English)

Publication Date





13542 - 13547


Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3QT, UK.


Humans, Pyridines, Palmitoyl Coenzyme A, Acetyltransferases, Affinity Labels, Binding Sites, Structure-Activity Relationship, Kinetics, Light, Small Molecule Libraries