We hypothesized that GTI-2040, a 20-mer oligonucleotide complementary to the R2 subunit mRNA of ribonucleotide reductase, combined with high dose cytarabine (HiDAC) would result in enhanced cytotoxicity by favoring Ara-CTP DNA incorporation. In a phase I dose escalation trial, adults (? 60 years) with refractory or relapsed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) received daily HiDAC plus infusional GTI-2040. Using a novel assay, evidence of intracellular drug accumulation and target R2 down-regulation was observed. GTI-2040/HiDAC can be administered safely. However, with no complete remissions observed, alternative doses and schedules may need to be investigated to achieve clinical activity in older patients with AML.
Bioactive components from dietary supplements such as curcumin may represent attractive agents for cancer prevention or treatment. DNA methylation plays a critical role in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) development, and presents an excellent target for treatment of this disease. However, it remains largely unknown how curcumin, a component of the popular Indian spice turmeric, plays a role in DNA hypomethylation to reactivate silenced tumor suppressor genes and to present a potential treatment option for AML. Here we show that curcumin down-regulates DNMT1 expression in AML cell lines, both in vitro and in vivo, and in primary AML cells ex vivo. Mechanistically, curcumin reduced the expression of positive regulators of DNMT1, p65 and Sp1, which correlated with a reduction in binding of these transcription factors to the DNMT1 promoter in AML cell lines. This curcumin-mediated down-regulation of DNMT1 expression was concomitant with p15(INK4B) tumor suppressor gene reactivation, hypomethylation of the p15(INK4B) promoter, G1 cell cycle arrest, and induction of tumor cell apoptosis in vitro. In mice implanted with the human AML MV4-11 cell line, administration of curcumin resulted in remarkable suppression of AML tumor growth. Collectively, our data indicate that curcumin shows promise as a potential treatment for AML, and our findings provide a basis for future studies to test the clinical efficacy of curcumin - whether used as a single agent or as an adjuvant - for AML treatment.
GTI-2040 is a potent antisense to the M2 subunit of the ribonucleotide reductase (RNR), an enzyme involved in the de novo synthesis of nucleoside triphosphates. We hypothesized that combination of GTI-2040 with the cytarabine (Ara-C) could result in an enhanced cytotoxic effect with perturbed intracellular deoxynucleotide/nucleotide (dNTP/NTP) pools including Ara-C triphosphate (Ara-CTP). This study aims to provide a direct experimental support of this hypothesis by monitoring the biochemical modulation effects, intracellular levels of Ara-CTP, dNTPs/NTPs following the combination treatment of Ara-C, and GTI-2040 in K562 human leukemia cells. GTI-2040 was introduced into cells via electroporation. A hybridization-ligation ELISA was used to quantify intracellular GTI-2040 concentrations. Real-time PCR and Western blot methods were used to measure the RNR M2 mRNA and protein levels, respectively. 3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium, inner salt assay was used to measure the cytotoxicity following various drug treatments. A non-radioactive HPLC-UV method was used for measuring the intracellular Ara-CTP, while a LC-MS/MS method was used to quantify intracellular dNTP/NTP pools. GTI-2040 was found to downregulate M2 mRNA and protein levels in a dose-dependent manner and showed significant decrease in dNTP but not NTP pool. When combining GTI-2040 with Ara-C, a synergistic cytotoxicity was observed with no further change in dNTP/NTP pools. Importantly, pretreatment of K562 cells with GTI-2040 was found to increase Ara-CTP level for the first time, and this effect may be due to inhibition of RNR by GTI-2040. This finding provides a laboratory justification for the current phase I/II evaluation of GTI-2040 in combination with Ara-C in patients with acute myeloid leukemia.
Targeting aberrant DNA hypermethylation in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) with decitabine may reverse epigenetic silencing in B-cell malignancies. Twenty patients were enrolled in two phase I trials to determine the minimum effective pharmacological dose of decitabine in patients with relapsed/refractory CLL (n = 16) and NHL (n = 4). Patients received 1-3 cycles of decitabine. Dose-limiting toxicity (DLT) was observed in 2 of 4 CLL and 2 of 2 NHL patients receiving decitabine at 15 mg/m(2) per d days 1-10, consisting of grade 3-4 thrombocytopenia and hyperbilirubinaemia. Six patients with CLL received decitabine at 10 mg/m(2) per d days 1-10 without DLT; however, re-expression of methylated genes or changes in global DNA methylation were not observed. Therefore, a 5-day decitabine schedule was examined. With 15 mg/m(2) per d decitabine days 1-5, DLT occurred in 2 of 6 CLL and 2 of 2 NHL patients, consisting of grade 3-4 neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and febrile neutropenia. Eight patients had stable disease. In 17 patients, there were no significant changes in genome-wide methylation or in target gene re-expression. In conclusion, dose-limiting myelosuppression and infectious complications prevented dose escalation of decitabine to levels associated with changes in global methylation or gene re-expression in CLL and NHL.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous, small non-coding RNAs that bind to target mRNAs and regulate their expression. Recent evidence has indicated the involvement of miRNAs in human malignancies. It has been suggested that aberrantly down-regulated or up-regulated miRNAs may be replaced with synthetic miRNAs or antagomiRNAs, respectively, and restore normal cell functions. As therapeutic development requires analytical support, we developed and validated an ultrasensitive and selective assay for quantification of synthetic 2-methoxyphosphorothiolate-miRNA in mouse plasma and cell lysate for the first time. The method is based on a hybridization-ligation fluorescence enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and has provided a linear dynamic range of 10-1,000,000 pM for three synthetic miRNAs both singly and in a mixture. The intra- and inter-day coefficients of variation were <20% and the accuracy values nearly 100%. Using this assay, we performed pharmacokinetic studies of three synthetic miRNAs in mice treated with a single i.v. bolus dose of 7.5 mg kg?¹. The 2-methoxyphosphorothiolate-miRNAs reached peak concentrations in the ?M and nM ranges in plasma and bone marrow, respectively, and remained measurable at 24 h. These concentrations are in a range that shows biological activities. We conclude that this method provides a general and valuable tool for the pharmacologic study and clinical development of synthetic miRNAs.
Molecular docking of the interaction of curcumin and DNMT1 suggested that curcumin covalently blocks the catalytic thiolate of C1226 of DNMT1 to exert its inhibitory effect. This was validated by showing that curcumin inhibits the activity of M. SssI with an IC(50) of 30 nM, but no inhibitory activity of hexahydrocurcumin up to 100 microM. In addition, curcumin can induce global DNA hypomethylation in a leukemia cell line.
Promoter hypermethylation-associated tumor suppressor gene (TSG) silencing has been explored as a therapeutic target for hypomethylating agents. Promoter methylation change may serve as a pharmacodynamic endpoint for evaluation of the efficacy of these agents and predict the patients clinical response. Here a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) assay has been developed for quantitative regional DNA methylation analysis using the molar ratio of 5-methyl-2-deoxycytidine (5mdC) to 2-deoxycytidine (2dC) in the enzymatic hydrolysate of fully methylated bisulfite-converted polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplicons as the methylation indicator. The assay can differentiate 5% of promoter methylation level with an intraday precision ranging from 3 to 16% using two TSGs: HIN-1 and RASSF1A. This method was applied to characterize decitabine-induced promoter DNA methylation changes of these two TSGs in a breast cancer MCF-7 cell line. Promoter methylation of these TSGs was found to decrease in a dose-dependent manner. Correspondingly, the expression of these TSGs was enhanced. The sensitivity and reproducibility of the method make it a valuable tool for specific gene methylation analysis that could aid characterization of hypomethylating activity on specific genes by hypomethylating agents in a clinical setting.
To simultaneously quantify intracellular nucleoside triphosphate (NTP) and deoxynucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) pools and to assess their changes produced by interfering with ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) expression in leukemia cells.
Hypermethylation of 5-cytosine-guanosine islands of tumor suppressor genes resulting in their silencing has been proposed to be a hallmark of various tumors. Modulation of DNA methylation with DNA methylation inhibitors has been shown to result in cancer cell differentiation or apoptosis and represents a novel strategy for chemotherapy. Currently, effective DNA methylation inhibitors are mainly limited to decitabine and 5-azacytidine, which still show unfavorable toxicity profiles in the clinical setting. Thus, discovery and development of novel hypomethylating agents, with a more favorable toxicity profile, is essential to broaden the spectrum of epigenetic therapy. Parthenolide, the principal bioactive sesquiterpene lactone of feverfew, has been shown to alkylate Cys(38) of p65 to inhibit nuclear factor-kappaB activation and exhibit anti-tumor activity in human malignancies. In this article, we report that parthenolide 1) inhibits DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) with an IC(50) of 3.5 microM, possibly through alkylation of the proximal thiolate of Cys(1226) of the catalytic domain by its gamma-methylene lactone, and 2) down-regulates DNMT1 expression possibly associated with its SubG(1) cell-cycle arrest or the interruption of transcriptional factor Sp1 binding to the promoter of DNMT1. These dual functions of parthenolide result in the observed in vitro and in vivo global DNA hypomethylation. Furthermore, parthenolide has been shown to reactivate tumor suppressor HIN-1 gene in vitro possibly associated with its promoter hypomethylation. Hence, our study established parthenolide as an effective DNA methylation inhibitor, representing a novel prototype for DNMT1 inhibitor discovery and development from natural structural-diversified sesquiterpene lactones.
Reactivation of tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) involved in carcinogenesis by nontoxic bioactive food component represents a promising strategy for cancer chemoprevention. Recently, curcumin has been demonstrated to inhibit a bacterial DNA methyltransferase (M. Sss I) activity, induce global DNA hypomethylation in leukemia cells, and reactivate several hypermethylation silenced genes in lung and prostate cancer cells. Herein, we demonstrated that curcumin can enhance the mRNA and protein levels of ras-association domain family protein 1A (RASSF1A), 1 hypermethylation-silenced TSG, and decrease its promoter methylation in breast cancer cells. Mechanistic study demonstrated that curcumin can decrease DNA methylation activity of nuclear extract and downregulate the mRNA and protein levels of DNMT1 in MCF-7 cells, which may be associated with curcumin-induced disruption of NF-?B/Sp1 complex bound to the promoter region of DNMT1. Altogether, this study reveals a novel molecular mechanism of curcumin as a chemo-preventive agent for breast cancer through hypomethylation reactivation of RASSF1A.
TP53 encodes for tumor protein p53. The suppression of p53 protein results in interruption of DNA repair mechanisms in dividing malignant cells thereby increasing the DNA damage and activating p53-independent mechanisms of apoptosis. This ultimately may translate into enhanced cytotoxic effects of standard chemotherapy. Based on this rationale, Cenersen, a phosphorothioate oligonucleotide antisense to p53-mRNA was synthesized and tested in clinical trials for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). An important component of Cenersen clinical development is to develop a sensitive and specific method to quantify plasma and intracellular levels of Cenersen in different biologic matrices in order to determine tissue and intracellular distribution of the parent compound and its metabolites. Ultimately, this will allow us to determine pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic relationship for dose-effect correlation and design effective regimen to be rapidly translate into the clinic. An ELISA-based assay was adapted for assay development and validation of Cenersen in mouse plasma and cell lysate. Cellular uptake of Cenersen was studied in MV4-11 and KASUMI-1 AML cell lines. Real-time RT-PCR was used to measure P53-mRNA expression changes in treated cells. The assay had a limit of quantification of 35pmol/L in mouse plasma. Within-day and between-day precision of <15% and accuracy nearly 100% were observed in a linear range of 10-2000pmol/L (R(2)=0.99) in AML cell lysate. The selectivity of this assay examined as cross-reactivity with its 3N-1, 3N-2-metabolites, was 16.8% and 0.4%, respectively, and with its mismatch and the scramble oligonucleotides was 0.06% and 0.4%, respectively. Cenersen was stable in mouse plasma up to 8h at 37°C. When exposed to 0.1-1?mol/L Cenersen, MV4-11 and KASUMI-1 cells showed intracellular concentration in the range of 9.97-45.34nmol/mg protein and 0.1-2.1nmol/mg protein, respectively. Successful downregulation of p53-mRNA expression was observed in Cenersen treated cells. This ELISA-based assay was applicable to plasma and intracellular concentration measurement of Cenersen. Assessment of achievable concentration of Cenersen in different biologic matrices will be useful to elucidate the biological and clinical activity of this promising drug and define its recommended dose in future clinical trials.
Triphala churna (THL) is a combination of three fruits that has been used for many years in India for the treatment of various diseases. There are now reports which indicate that THL can inhibit growth of malignant tumors in animals. However, the mechanisms by which THL mediates its anti-tumor actions are still being explored. Because vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF) induced angiogenesis plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of cancer, we therefore investigated whether tumor inhibitory effects of THL or its active constituents are through suppression of VEGF actions. We herein report that THL and chebulinic (CI) present in THL can significantly and specifically inhibit VEGF induced angiogenesis by suppressing VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) phosphorylation. These results are of clinical significance as these inexpensive and non-toxic natural products can be used for the prevention and treatment of diseases where VEGF induced angiogenesis has an important role.
MicroRNAs (miRs) are deregulated in cancer and leukemia. Restoring aberrantly downregulated tumor suppressor miRs or antagonizing overexpressed oncogenic miRs in malignant cells by synthetic RNA oligonucleotides represents a potentially novel therapeutic approach in cancer and leukemia. However, given the complex networking and concurrent deregulation of miRs in malignant cells, an effective approach may require concurrent targeting of multiple miRs. Cassette dosing involves simultaneous administration of a mixture of oligonucleotides from the same or different structural classes. However, information on cassette dosing pharmacokinetics, tissue distribution and bioactivity of synthetic miRs is lacking. In this study, three synthetic 2-methoxyphosphorothioate-miRs (2-MeOPSmiR16-1, 2-MeOPSmiR29b and 2-MeOPSantagomiR155) were administered iv to C57BL/6 mice as a mixture, each at 7.5 mg/kg. Analysis of concentrations of individual miR in plasma and major organ tissues (bone marrow, spleen, liver, brain, heart, kidney and lung) was performed. The mRNA and protein levels of miRs biotargets were monitored sequentially after dosing up to 24 h. Our results demonstrated that these synthetic miRs retain their different individual pharmacokinetic properties and all display three-compartmental pharmacokinetics. 2-MeOPSmiR16-1 has the longest plasma gamma half-life of 2508 min and lowest total body clearance of 0.0054 L/min·kg, whereas 2-MeOPSmiR29b has the shortest gamma half-life of 510.6 min and highest total body clearance of 0.042 L/min·kg. The tissue concentrations of all three 2-MeOPS-modified miR(s)/antagomiR were measurable from 5 min to at least 24 h after dosing, indicating that these concurrently delivered oligonucleotides can reach organ tissues. Importantly, there were biological activities of the concurrently administered miRs which persisted, as shown by the downregulation of specific targets in tested tissues, albeit with variations. Brain was one of the most sensitive tissues with respect to downregulation of mRNA and protein levels of four measured biotargets (e.g., Bcl-2, Mcl-1, DNMT3a and DNMT3b) despite its relatively low miR/antagomiRs levels. We conclude that cassette dosing is applicable to 2-MeOPS-modified synthetic miRs that are tissue-deliverable and biofunctional without any additional formulation requirement. This study supports future exploration of miR-involved combination therapies.
5-Azacytidine (5-azaC) is an azanucleoside approved for myelodysplastic syndrome. Approximately 80%-90% of 5-azaC is believed to be incorporated into RNA, which disrupts nucleic acid and protein metabolism leading to apoptosis. A smaller fraction (10%-20%) of 5-azaC inhibits DNA methylation and synthesis through conversion to decitabine triphosphate and subsequent DNA incorporation. However, its precise mechanism of action remains unclear. Ribonucleotide reductase (RR) is a highly regulated enzyme comprising 2 subunits, RRM1 and RRM2, that provides the deoxyribonucleotides required for DNA synthesis/repair. In the present study, we found for the first time that 5-azaC is a potent inhibitor of RRM2 in leukemia cell lines, in a mouse model, and in BM mononuclear cells from acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. 5-azaC-induced RRM2 gene expression inhibition involves its direct RNA incorporation and an attenuated RRM2 mRNA stability. Therefore, 5-azaC causes a major perturbation of deoxyribonucleotide pools. We also demonstrate herein that the initial RR-mediated 5-azaC conversion to decitabine is terminated through its own inhibition. In conclusion, we identify RRM2 as a novel molecular target of 5-azaC in AML. Our findings provide a basis for its more widespread clinical use either alone or in combination.
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