Gilon Chaim

Ph.D. 1969 Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
M.Sc. 1962 Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Philadelphia 109
0546 290 304
02 6416 358
Research Focus: 

Molecular mechanism of Memory

Recently, based on existing literature and basic principles of chemistry and biology, we suggest a credible model that describes the molecular basis of memory. Many neurones of all animals that exhibit memory (snails, worms, flies, vertebrae) present arborized shapes with many varicosities and boutons. These neurones, release neurotransmitters and neurometals and contain receptors (GPCRs, K channels and AchR) that are involved in read/write memory. The arborized shapes maximise neural contact with the surrounding neural Extra Cellular Matrix (nECM) as well as with other neurones through non-synaptic communication.

We propose a tripartite mechanism of non-speaking animal memory based on the dynamic interactions of neurones with the surrounding nECM+diffusibles (neurometals and neurotransmitters) called together neutrix (Figure 1). Their interactions form cognitive units of information (cuinfo) that are metal-centered complexes within the various ligands of the nECM. Emotive content is provided to memory by neurotransmitters, which embody molecular links between physiologic (body) responses and psychic feelings. We propose that neurotransmitters form mixed ternary complexes with cuinfo used for tagging emotive memory. The neurones have enormous encoding options defined by combinatorial diversity of > 10 neurometals and > 90 neurotransmitters for “flavouring” cuinfo with emotive tags. The neural network efficiently decodes and consolidates related sets of cuinfo into a coherent pattern, the basis for emotionally valued memory, critical for determining a behavioural choice aimed at survival. For more evolved animals, the neurotransmitters modulated tripartite mechanism permits of a causal connection between physiology and psychology [1-3]








Figure 1. The tripartite  mechanism                                                Figure 2. Backbone cyclization of peptides














Figure 3. Application of Cycloscan for the discovery                  Figure 4 Comparisons of micro-CT            

of backbone cyclic drugable peptide lead                                  images of front (left) and rear (right)  

                                                                                             paws of CIA mice treated with PBS

                                                                                            (upper row), 36 pg/gr (middle row),or

                                                                                            360 pg/gr (bottom row) of HS(4-4)c Trp.











Figure 5. Rational conversion of the CD4 noncontinuous active region into small macrocyclic inhibitor


Development and application of technologies for the conversion of bioactive peptides and active regions in proteins into drugs.

Peptides have unfavourable pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties, such as rapid metabolism, poor bioavailability and nonselective receptor activation that prevent their development into drugs. Over the years we have developed technologies such as: Backbone Cyclization (Figure 2) and Cycloscan (Figure 3) to overcome the above mentioned disadvantages. These technologies are based on the design and synthesis of libraries of backbone cyclic peptides with conformational diversity based on a parent active peptide or active region in protein and screening them for their biological activity, metabolic stability and intestinal bioavailability. From these libraries the most active, selective, metabolically stable and orally bioavailable peptidomimetic with drug like properties is selected for in vivo preclinical studies [4]. Following are few recent examples for the application of these technologies:

Example 1: The transmembrane helical bundle of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) dimerize through helix–helix interactions in response to inflammatory stimulation. A strategy, called Helix Walk, was developed to target the helical dimerization site of GPCRs by a helix mimetic peptidomimetics with drug like properties. The Helix Walk concept was demonstrated by selecting a potent backbone cyclic helix mimetic from a library that derived from the dimerization region of chemokine (C–C motif) receptor 2 (CCR2) that is a key player in Multiple Sclerosis. We showed that CCR2 based backbone cyclic peptide having a stable helix structure inhibits specific CCR2-mediated chemotactic migration [5,6]

Example 2: We have recently proposed that a shared epitope (SE) may contribute to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pathogenesis by acting as a ligand that activates proarthritogenic signal transduction events. We have applied the Helix Walk concept to design and prepare a backbone cyclic library based on the sequence DKCLA derived from the SE coding HLA DRBl alleles. Screening of the members of this library in vitro led to characterisation of a novel, backbone cyclic super active (IC50 1.5 picomolar) compound called HS(4-4)cTrp, containing the sequence motif DKCLA. The potently HS(4-4)c Trp, ameliorated arthritis and bone damage in vivo when administered IP  in picogram doses to mice with collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) (Figure 4). The antiosteoclastogenic potency of HS(4-4)cTrp was 100,000- to 1,000,000-fold higher than the potency of a recently described linear SE 15 amino acid peptidic ligand containing the SE region [7,8].

Example 3: Rational conversion of noncontinuous active regions of proteins into a small orally bioavailable molecule is crucial for the discovery of new drugs based on inhibition of protein–protein interactions. We developed a method that utilizes backbone cyclization as an intermediate step for conversion of the CD4 noncontinuous active region into small macrocyclic molecules (Figure 5). We demonstrate that this method is feasible by preparing small inhibitor for human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV-1). The lead compound, CG-1, inhibits growth of HIV-1 in cells and proved metabolically stable and orally available in the rat model [9].

Selected Publications: 

1. Marx & Gilon (2012) The molecular basis of memory. ACS Chem. Neurosci. 3, 633-642
2. Marx & Gilon (2013) The molecular basis of memory. Part 2: chemistry of the tripartite mechanism. ACS Chem. Neurosci. 4, 983-993
3. Marx & Gilon (2014) The molecular basis of memory. Part 3: tagging with "emotive" neurotransmitters. Front. Aging Neurosci. 6, 1-8.
4. Hurevich M, Tal-Gan Y, Klein S, Barda Y, Levitzki A, Gilon C. (2010) Novel method for the synthesis of urea backbone cyclic peptides using new Alloc-protected glycine building units. Journal of peptide science 16:178-85
5. Hurevich M, Ratner-Hurevich M, Tal-Gan Y, Shalev DE, Ben-Sasson SZ, Gilon C. 2013. Backbone cyclic helix mimetic of chemokine (C-C motif) receptor 2: a rational approach for inhibiting dimerization of G protein-coupled receptors. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 21:3958-667.
6. Chaim Gilon, Maya Ratner-Hurevich, Mattan Hurevich,  Stabilized peptide helices for inhibiting dimerization of chemokine c motif receptor 2 (CCR2), WO 2013111129 A1
7. Ling S, Liu Y, Fu J, Colletta A, Gilon C, Holoshitz J.  Shared Epitope-Antagonistic Ligands: A New Therapeutic Strategy in Mice With Erosive Arthritis. Arthritis Rheumatol. (2015) 67(8):2061-70. doi: 10.1002/art.39158.
8. Joseph Holoshitz, Song Ling, Chaim Gilon, Amnon Hoffman, Methods and compositions for the treatment of bone remodelling disorders, WO 2014130949 A1
9. Hurevich M, Swed A, Joubran S, Cohen S, Freeman NS, Britan-Rosich E, Briant-Longuet L, Bardy M, Devaux C, Kotler M, Hoffman A, Gilon C. (2010). Rational conversion of noncontinuous active region in proteins into a small orally bioavailable macrocyclic drug-like molecule: the HIV-1 CD4:gp120 paradigm. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 18:5754-61