Background. Nek2 is a serine/threonine kinase localized to the centrosome. It promotes cell cycle progression from G2 to M by inducing centrosome separation. Recent studies have shown that high Nek2 expression is correlated with drug resistance in multiple myeloma patients. Materials and Methods. To investigate the role of Nek2 in bortezomib resistance, we ectopically overexpressed Nek2 in several cancer cell lines, including multiple myeloma lines. Small-molecule inhibitors of Nek2 were discovered using an in-house library of compounds. We tested the inhibitors on proteasome and cell cycle activity in several cell lines. Results. Proteasome activity was elevated in Nek2-overexpressing cell lines. The Nek2 inhibitors inhibited proteasome activity in these cancer cell lines. Treatment with these inhibitors resulted in inhibition of proteasome-mediated degradation of several cell cycle regulators in HeLa cells, leaving them arrested in G2/M. Combining these Nek2 inhibitors with bortezomib increased the efficacy of bortezomib in decreasing proteasome activity in vitro. Treatment with these novel Nek2 inhibitors successfully mitigated drug resistance in bortezomib-resistant multiple myeloma. Conclusion. Nek2 plays a central role in proteasome-mediated cell cycle regulation and in conferring resistance to bortezomib in cancer cells. Taken together, our results introduce Nek2 as a therapeutic target in bortezomib-resistant multiple myeloma.
Lysine specific demethylase 1 (LSD1) plays an important role in regulating histone lysine methylation at residues K4 and K9 on histone H3 and is an attractive therapeutic target in multiple malignancies. Here we report a structure-based virtual screen of a compound library containing ?2 million small molecular entities. Computational docking and scoring followed by biochemical screening led to the identification of a novel N-(1-phenylethylidene)-benzohydrazide series of LSD1 inhibitors with hits showing biochemical IC50s in the 200-400 nM range. Hit-to-lead optimization and structure-activity relationship studies aided in the discovery of compound 12, with a Ki of 31 nM. Compound 12 is reversible and specific for LSD1 as compared to the monoamine oxidases shows minimal inhibition of CYPs and hERG and inhibits proliferation and survival in several cancer cell lines, including breast and colorectal cancer. Compound 12 may be used to probe LSD1s biological role in these cancers.
We identified an essential cell wall biosynthetic enzyme in Bacillus anthracis and an inhibitor thereof to which the organism did not spontaneously evolve measurable resistance. This work is based on the exquisite binding specificity of bacteriophage-encoded cell wall-hydrolytic lysins, which have evolved to recognize critical receptors within the bacterial cell wall. Focusing on the B. anthracis-specific PlyG lysin, we first identified its unique cell wall receptor and cognate biosynthetic pathway. Within this pathway, one biosynthetic enzyme, 2-epimerase, was required for both PlyG receptor expression and bacterial growth. The 2-epimerase was used to design a small-molecule inhibitor, epimerox. Epimerox prevented growth of several Gram-positive pathogens and rescued mice challenged with lethal doses of B. anthracis. Importantly, resistance to epimerox was not detected (<10(-11) frequency) in B. anthracis and S. aureus. These results describe the use of phage lysins to identify promising lead molecules with reduced resistance potential for antimicrobial development.
Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) are cell-surface transmembrane receptors that contain regulated kinase activity within their cytoplasmic domain and play an important role in signal transduction in both normal and malignant cells. The mammalian TAM RTK family includes 3 closely related members: Tyro-3, Axl, and Mer. Overexpression or ectopic expression of the TAM receptors has been detected in a wide array of human cancers. Growth arrest-specific gene 6 has been identified as the major ligand for these TAM RTKs, and its binding to the receptors has been shown to promote proliferation and survival of cancer cells in vitro. Abnormal expression and activation of Axl or Mer can provide a survival advantage for certain cancer cells. Inhibition of Axl and Mer may enhance the sensitivity of cancer cells to cytotoxic agents and would potentially be a therapeutic strategy to target cancer cells. This review elucidates the role of Axl and Mer in normal cellular function and their role in oncogenesis. In addition, we review the potential to inhibit these RTKs for the development of therapeutic targets in treatment of cancer.
The receptor tyrosine kinase AXL has emerged in recent years as an potential oncology target due to its over expression in several types of cancers coupled with its ability to promote tumor growth and metastasis. In order to identify small molecule inhibitors of AXL, we built a homology model of its catalytic domain to virtually screen and identify scaffolds displaying an affinity for AXL. Further computational and structure-based design resulted in the synthesis of a series of 2,4,5-trisubstitued pyrimidines which demonstrated potent inhibition of AXL in vitro (IC(50) 19 nM) and strongly inhibited the growth of several pancreatic cell lines.
Methylation of CpG islands in promoter regions is often associated with gene silencing and aberrant DNA methylation occurs in most cancers, leading to the silencing of some tumor suppressor genes. Reversal of this abnormal hypermethylation by DNA methylation inhibitors is effective in reactivating methylation-silenced tumor suppressor genes both in vitro and in vivo. Several DNA methylation inhibitors have been well studied; the most potent among them is 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-CdR), which can induce myelosuppression in patients. S110 is a dinucleotide consisting of 5-Aza-CdR followed by a deoxyguanosine, which we previously showed to be effective in vitro as a DNA methylation inhibitor while being less prone to deamination by cytidine deaminase, making it a promising alternative to 5-Aza-CdR. Here, we show that S110 is better tolerated than 5-Aza-CdR in mice and is as effective in vivo in inducing p16 expression, reducing DNA methylation at the p16 promoter region, and retarding tumor growth in human xenograft. We also show that S110 is effective by both i.p. and s.c. deliveries. S110 therefore is a promising new agent that acts similarly to 5-Aza-CdR and has better stability and less toxicity.
Constitutive activation of the Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) due to a somatic mutation (JAK2(V617F)) arising in hematopoietic stem cells plays a central role in the pathophysiology of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). To investigate the hypothesis that drugs that inhibit JAK2 have therapeutic potential, we developed a small molecule inhibitor, SGI-1252, that targets the adenosine triphosphate-binding and solvent pocket of the protein.
During the process of branching morphogenesis, the mammary gland undergoes distinct phases of remodeling to form an elaborate ductal network that ultimately produces and delivers milk to newborn animals. These developmental events rely on tight regulation of critical cellular pathways, many of which are probably disrupted during initiation and progression of breast cancer. Transgenic mouse and in vitro organoid models previously identified growth factor signaling as a key regulator of mammary branching, but the functional downstream targets of these pathways remain unclear. Here, we used purified primary mammary epithelial cells stimulated with fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) to model mammary branching morphogenesis in vitro. We employed a forward chemical genetic approach to identify modulators of this process and describe a potent compound, 1023, that blocks FGF2-induced branching. In primary mammary epithelial cells, we used lentivirus-mediated knockdown of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) to demonstrate that 1023 acts through AHR to block branching. Using 1023 as a tool, we identified desmosomal adhesion as a novel target of AHR signaling and show that desmosomes are critical for AHR agonists to block branching. Our findings support a functional role for desmosomes during mammary morphogenesis and also in blocking FGF-induced invasion.
Congenital polycythemias have diverse etiologies, including mutations in the hypoxia sensing pathway. These include HIF2A at exon 12, VHL gene (Chuvash polycythemia), and PHD2 mutations, which in one family was also associated with recurrent pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma (PHEO/PGL). Over the past two decades, we have studied seven unrelated patients with sporadic congenital polycythemia who subsequently developed PHEO/PGL with, until now, no discernible molecular basis. We now report a polycythemic patient with a novel germline HIF2A (F374Y) (exon 9) mutation, inherited from his mother, who developed PHEO/PGL. We show that this is a gain-of-function mutation and demonstrate no loss-of-heterozygosity or additional somatic mutation of HIF2A in the tumor, indicating HIF2A (F374Y) may be predisposing rather than causative of PHEO/PGL. This report, in view of two other concomitantly reported PHEO/PGL patients with somatic mutations of HIF2A and polycythemia, underscores the PHEO/PGL-promoting potential of mutations of HIF2A that alone are not sufficient for PHEO/PGL development.
Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, affecting more than 500 million people worldwide, is one of the most common of inherited disorders. There are 186 G6PD mutations published, with mutational clustering within defined ethnic/racial groups. However comprehensive molecular characterization of ethnically associated G6PD mutants and their clinical implications are lacking.
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