Analysis of binding site for the novel small-molecule TLR4 signal transduction inhibitor TAK-242 and its therapeutic effect on mouse sepsis model


  • KT and NM contributed equally to this work.

Dr Masayuki Ii, Pharmaceutical Research Division, Pharmacology Research Laboratories I, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, 2-17-85, Jusohonmachi, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka 532-8686, Japan. E-mail:


Background and purpose:  TAK-242, a novel synthetic small-molecule, suppresses production of multiple cytokines by inhibiting Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 signalling. In this study, we investigated the target molecule of TAK-242 and examined its therapeutic effect in a mouse sepsis model.

Experimental approach:  Binding assay with [3H]-TAK-242 and nuclear factor-κB reporter assay were used to identify the target molecule and binding site of TAK-242. Bacillus calmette guerin (BCG)-primed mouse sepsis model using live Escherichia coli was used to estimate the efficacy of TAK-242 in sepsis.

Key results:  TAK-242 strongly bound to TLR4, but binding to TLR2, 3, 5, 9, TLR-related adaptor molecules and MD-2 was either not observed or marginal. Mutational analysis using TLR4 mutants indicated that TAK-242 inhibits TLR4 signalling by binding to Cys747 in the intracellular domain of TLR4. TAK-242 inhibited MyD88-independent pathway as well as MyD88-dependent pathway and its inhibitory effect was largely unaffected by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) concentration and types of TLR4 ligands. TAK-242 had no effect on the LPS-induced conformational change of TLR4-MD-2 and TLR4 homodimerization. In mouse sepsis model, although TAK-242 alone did not affect bacterial counts in blood, if co-administered with ceftazidime it inhibited the increases in serum cytokine levels and improved survival of mice.

Conclusions and implications:  TAK-242 suppressed TLR4 signalling by binding directly to a specific amino acid Cys747 in the intracellular domain of TLR4. When co-administered with antibiotics, TAK-242 showed potent therapeutic effects in an E. coli-induced sepsis model using BCG-primed mice. Thus, TAK-242 may be a promising therapeutic agent for sepsis.