Apoptosis resistance is a hallmark of human cancer. Research in the last two decades has identified key regulators of apoptosis, including inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs). These critical apoptosis regulators have been targeted for the development of new cancer therapeutics. In this article, we will discuss three members of IAP proteins, namely XIAP, cIAP1 and cIAP2, as cancer therapeutic targets and the progress made in developing new cancer therapeutic agents to target these IAP proteins.
Dopamine D2-like agonists maintain responding when substituted for cocaine in laboratory animals. However, these effects appear to be mediated by an interaction with stimuli that were previously paired with cocaine reinforcement (CS).
To evaluate the extent to which the pramipexole-maintained and -induced responding are influenced by cocaine-paired stimuli.
Rats were trained to nosepoke for cocaine under fixed ratio 1 (FR1) or progressive ratio (PR) schedules of reinforcement. In FR1-trained rats, pramipexole was substituted for cocaine with injections either paired with CSs, or delivered in their absence. The capacity of experimenter-administered pramipexole to induce FR1 and PR responding for CS presentation was evaluated. The effects of altering stimulus conditions, as well as pretreatments with D2- (L-741,626) and D3-preferring (PG01037) antagonists on pramipexole-induced PR responding were also evaluated.
When substituted for cocaine, pramipexole maintained responding at high rates when injections were paired with CSs, but low rates when CSs were omitted. Similarly, experimenter-administered pramipexole induced dose-dependent increases in FR1 or PR responding, with high rates of responding observed when the CS was presented, and low rates of responding when CS presentation was omitted. D2 and D3 antagonists differentially affected pramipexole-induced PR responding, with L-741,626 and PG01037 producing rightward, and downward shifts in the dose-response curve for CS-maintained responding, respectively.
These data indicate that pramipexole is capable of enhancing the reinforcing effectiveness of conditioned stimuli, and raise the possibility that similar mechanisms are responsible for the increased occurrence of impulse control disorders in patients being treated with pramipexole.
Overexpression of Bcl-2 family proteins has been found in a variety of aggressive human carcinomas, including pancreatic cancer, suggesting that specific agents targeting Bcl-2 family proteins would be valuable for pancreatic cancer therapy. We have previously reported that TW-37, a small-molecule inhibitor of Bcl-2 family proteins, inhibited cell growth and induced apoptosis in pancreatic cancer. However, the precise role and the molecular mechanism of action of TW-37 have not been fully elucidated. In our current study, we found that TW-37 induces cell growth inhibition and S-phase cell cycle arrest, with regulation of several important cell cycle–related genes like p27, p57, E2F-1, cdc25A, CDK4, cyclin A, cyclin D1, and cyclin E. The cell growth inhibition was accompanied by increased apoptosis with concomitant attenuation of Notch-1, Jagged-1, and its downstream genes such as Hes-1 in vitro and in vivo. We also found that down-regulation of Notch-1 by small interfering RNA or γ-secretase inhibitors before TW-37 treatment resulted in enhanced cell growth inhibition and apoptosis. Our data suggest that the observed antitumor activity of TW-37 is mediated through a novel pathway involving inactivation of Notch-1 and Jagged-1.
Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL anti-apoptotic proteins are attractive cancer therapeutic targets. We have previously reported the design of 4,5-diphenyl-1H-pyrrole-3-carboxylic acids as a class of potent Bcl-2/Bcl-xL inhibitors. In the present study, we report our structure-based optimization for this class of compounds based upon the crystal structure of Bcl-xL complexed with a potent lead compound. Our efforts accumulated into the design of compound 30 (BM-957), which binds to Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL with Ki <1 nM and has low nanomolar IC50 values in cell growth inhibition in cancer cell lines. Significantly, compound 30 achieves rapid, complete and durable tumor regression in the H146 small-cell lung cancer xenograft model at a well-tolerated dose-schedule.
In the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis, cell-damaging signals promote the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, triggering activation of the Apaf-1 and caspase-9 apoptosome. The ubiquitin E3 ligase MDM2 decreases the stability of the proapoptotic factor p53. We show that it also coordinated apoptotic events in a p53-independent manner by ubiquitylating the apoptosome activator CAS and the ubiquitin E3 ligase HUWE1. HUWE1 ubiquitylates the antiapoptotic factor Mcl-1, and we found that HUWE1 also ubiquitylated PP5 (protein phosphatase 5), which indirectly inhibited apoptosome activation. Breast cancers that are positive for the tyrosine receptor kinase HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) tend to be highly aggressive. In HER2-positive breast cancer cells treated with the HER2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib, MDM2 was degraded and HUWE1 was stabilized. In contrast, in breast cancer cells that acquired resistance to lapatinib, the abundance of MDM2 was not decreased and HUWE1 was degraded, which inhibited apoptosis, regardless of p53 status. MDM2 inhibition overcame lapatinib resistance in cells with either wild-type or mutant p53 and in xenograft models. These findings demonstrate broader, p53-independent roles for MDM2 and HUWE1 in apoptosis and specifically suggest the potential for therapy directed against MDM2 to overcome lapatinib resistance.
Bcl-2 family of proteins plays critical roles in human cancers, including pancreatic cancer, suggesting that the discovery of specific agents targeting Bcl-2 family proteins would be extremely valuable for pancreatic cancer therapy. We have previously reported the synthesis and characterization of TW-37, which seems to be a negative regulator of Bcl-2. In this investigation, we tested our hypothesis whether TW-37 could be an effective inhibitor of cell growth, invasion and angiogenesis in pancreatic cancer cells. Using multiple cellular and molecular approaches such as MTT assay, apoptosis enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, Western blotting, electrophoretic mobility shift assay for measuring DNA binding activity of NF-κB, migration, invasion and angiogenesis assays, we found that TW-37, in nanomolar concentrations, inhibited cell growth in a dose- and time-dependent manner. This was accompanied by increased apoptosis and concomitant attenuation of NF-κB, and downregulation of NF-κB downstream genes such as MMP-9 and VEGF, resulting in the inhibition of pancreatic cancer cell migration, invasion and angiogenesis in vitro and caused antitumor activity in vivo. From these results, we conclude that TW-37 is a potent inhibitor of progression of pancreatic cancer cells, which could be due to attenuation of Bcl-2 cellular signaling processes. Our findings provide evidence showing that TW-37 could act as a small-molecule Bcl-2 inhibitor on well-characterized pancreatic cancer cells in culture as well as when grown as tumor in a xenograft model. We also suggest that TW-37 could be further developed as a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
Bcl-2; NF-κB; pancreatic cancer; invasion; angiogenesis
Role of prostate apoptosis response-4 (PAR-4) has been well described in prostate cancer. However, its significance in other cancers has not been fully elucidated. For the current study, we selected four pancreatic cancer cell lines (BxPC-3, Colo-357, L3.6pl, and HPAC) that showed differential endogenous expression of PAR-4. We found that nonpeptidic small-molecule inhibitors (SMI) of Bcl-2 family proteins (apogossypolone and TW-37; 250 nmol/L and 1 μmol/L, respectively) could induce PAR-4-dependent inhibition of cell growth and induction of apoptosis. Sensitivity to apoptosis was directly related to the expression levels of PAR-4 (R = 0.92 and R2 = 0.95). Conversely, small interfering RNA against PAR-4 blocked apoptosis, confirming that PAR-4 is a key player in the apoptotic process. PAR-4 nuclear localization is considered a prerequisite for cells to undergo apoptosis, and we found that the treatment of Colo-357 and L3.6pl cells with 250 nmol/L SMI leads to nuclear localization of PAR-4 as confirmed by 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole staining. In combination studies with gemcitabine, pretreatment with SMI leads to sensitization of Colo-357 cells to the growth-inhibitory and apoptotic action of a therapeutic drug, gemcitabine. In an in vivo setting, the maximum tolerated dose of TW-37 in xenograft of severe combined immuno-deficient mice (40 mg/kg for three i.v. injections) led to significant tumor inhibition. Our results suggest that the observed antitumor activity of SMIs is mediated through a novel pathway involving induction of PAR-4. To our knowledge, this is the first study reporting SMI-mediated apoptosis involving PAR-4 in pancreatic cancer. [Mol Cancer Ther 2008;7(9):2884–93]
We have designed, synthesized and evaluated a series of new compounds with the goal to identify potent and selective D3 ligands. The two most potent and selective new D3 ligands are compounds 38 and 52, which bind to the D3 receptors with a Ki value of <1 nM and display a selectivity of 450–494 times over the D2 receptors and >10,000 times over the D1 receptors. Both 38 and 52 are full agonists with high potency at the D3 receptor in a D3 functional assay.
Dopamine 3 receptor; Full agonists; Structure-activity-relationships
Recent studies have shown that Bcl-2 functions as a pro-angiogenic signaling molecule in addition to its well-known effect as an inhibitor of apoptosis. The discovery of AT101, a BH3-mimetic drug that is effective and well tolerated when administered orally, suggested the possibility of using a molecularly targeted drug in a metronomic regimen. Here, we generated xenograft squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) with humanized vasculature in immunodeficient mice. Mice received taxotere in combination with either daily 10 mg/kg AT101 (metronomic regimen) or weekly 70 mg/kg AT101 (bolus regimen). The effect of single drug AT101 on angiogenesis, and combination AT101/taxotere on the survival of endothelial cells and SCC cells, were also evaluated in vitro. Metronomic AT101 increased mouse survival (p=0.02), decreased tumor mitotic index (p=0.0009), and decreased tumor microvessel density (p=0.0052), as compared to bolus delivery of AT101. Notably, the substantial potentiation of the anti-tumor effect observed in the metronomic AT101 group was achieved using the same amount of drug and without significant changes in systemic toxicities. In vitro, combination of AT101 and taxotere showed additive toxicity for endothelial cells and synergistic or additive toxicity for tumor cells (SCC). Interestingly, low-dose (sub-apoptotic) concentrations of AT101 potently inhibited the angiogenic potential of endothelial cells. Taken together, these data unveiled the benefit of metronomic delivery of a molecularly targeted drug, and suggested that patients with squamous cell carcinomas might benefit from continuous administration of low dose BH3-mimetic drugs.
Developmental therapeutics; targeted therapy; angiogenesis; Bcl-2; squamous cell carcinoma
Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL are key apoptosis regulators and attractive cancer therapeutic targets. We have designed and optimized a class of small-molecule inhibitors of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL containing a 4,5-diphenyl-1H-pyrrole-3-carboxylic acid core structure. A 1.4 Å resolution crystal structure of a lead compound, 12, complexed with Bcl-xL has provided a basis for our optimization. The most potent compounds, 14 and 15, bind to Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL with subnanomolar Ki values and are potent antagonists of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL in functional assays. Compounds 14 and 15 inhibit cell growth with low nanomolar IC50 values in multiple small-cell lung cancer cell lines and induce robust apoptosis in cancer cells at concentrations as low as 10 nM. Compound 14 also achieves strong antitumor activity in an animal model of human cancer.
Ovarian carcinoma is the most deadly gynecological malignancy. Current chemotherapeutic drugs are only transiently effective and patients with advance disease often develop resistance despite significant initial responses. Mounting evidence suggests that anti-apoptotic proteins, including those of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) family, play important roles in the chemoresistance. There has been a recent emergence of compounds that block the IAP functions. Here, we evaluated AT-406, a novel and orally active antagonist of multiple IAP proteins, in ovarian cancer cells as a single agent and in the combination with carboplatin for therapeutic efficacy and mechanism of action. We demonstrate that AT-406 has significant single agent activity in 60% of human ovarian cancer cell lines examined in vitro and inhibits ovarian cancer progression in vivo and that 3 out of 5 carboplatin-resistant cell lines are sensitive to AT-406, highlighting the therapeutic potential of AT-406 for patients with inherent or acquired platinum resistance. Additionally, our in vivo studies show that AT-406 enhances the carboplatin-induced ovarian cancer cell death and increases survival of the experimental mice, suggesting that AT-406 sensitizes the response of these cells to carboplatin. Mechanistically, we demonstrate that AT-406 induced apoptosis is correlated with its ability to down-regulate XIAP whereas AT-406 induces cIAP1 degradation in both AT-406 sensitive and resistance cell lines. Together, these results demonstrate, for the first time, the anti-ovarian cancer efficacy of AT-406 as a single agent and in the combination with carboplatin, suggesting that AT-406 has potential as a novel therapy for ovarian cancer patients, especially for patients exhibiting resistance to the platinum-based therapies.
Smac mimetic; carboplatin; chemosensitization; ovarian cancer; therapeutic agent
Employing a structure-based strategy, we have designed a new class of potent small-molecule inhibitors of the anti-apoptotic proteins Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL. An initial lead compound with a new scaffold was designed based upon the crystal structure of Bcl-xL and FDA-approved drugs and was found to have an affinity of 100 μM to both Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL. Linking this weak lead to another weak-affinity fragment derived from Abbott's ABT-737 led to an improvement of the binding affinity by a factor of >10,000. Further optimization ultimately yielded compounds with subnanomolar binding affinities to both Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL and potent cellular activity. The best compound (21) binds to Bcl-xL and Bcl-2 with Ki < 1 nM, inhibits cell growth in the H146 and H1417 small-cell lung cancer cell lines with IC50 values of 60–90 nM and induces robust cell death in the H146 cancer cell line at 30–100 nM.
Mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP) is a crucial step leading to apoptotic destruction of cancer cells. Bcl-2 family proteins delicately regulate mitochondrial outer membrane integrity through protein-protein interactions, which makes the mitochondrion an ideal cell-free system for screening molecules targeting the Bcl-2 anti-apoptotic proteins. But assay conditions need to be optimized for more reliable results. In this study, we aimed at establishing a reliable functional assay using mitochondria isolated from breast cancer cells to decipher the mode of action of BH3 peptides derived from BH3-only proteins. In this study, high ionic strength buffer was adopted during the initiation of MOMP. Mitochondria isolated from human breast cancer cell lines with distinct expression patterns of Bcl-2 anti-apoptotic proteins were permeabilized by different BH3 peptides alone or in combination, with or without the presence of recombinant anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins. Cytochrome C and Smac/Diablo were tested in both supernatants and mitochondrial pellets by Western blotting.
Sufficient ionic strength was required for optimal release of Cytochrome C. Bad and Noxa BH3 peptides exhibited their bona fide antagonistic effects against Bcl-2/Bcl-xL and Mcl-1 proteins, respectively, whereas Bim BH3 peptide antagonized all three anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 members. Bad and Noxa peptides synergized with each other in the induction of MOMP when mitochondria were dually protected by both Bcl-2/Bcl-xL and Mcl-1.
This method based on MOMP is a useful screening tool for identifying BH3 mimetics with selective toxicity against breast cancer cell mitochondria protected by the three major Bcl-2 anti-apoptotic proteins.
Mitochondrion; B cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2); Bcl-2 homolog domain 3 (BH3); Mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP)
Obesity is associated with intrahepatic inflammation that promotes insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Tumor necrosis factor receptor–associated factor (TRAF)2 is a key adaptor molecule that is known to mediate proinflammatory cytokine signaling in immune cells; however, its metabolic function remains unclear. We examined the role of hepatic TRAF2 in the regulation of insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. TRAF2 was deleted specifically in hepatocytes using the Cre/loxP system. The mutant mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) to induce insulin resistance and hyperglycemia. Hepatic glucose production (HGP) was examined using pyruvate tolerance tests, 2H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and in vitro HGP assays. The expression of gluconeogenic genes was measured by quantitative real-time PCR. Insulin sensitivity was analyzed using insulin tolerance tests and insulin-stimulated phosphorylation of insulin receptors and Akt. Glucagon action was examined using glucagon tolerance tests and glucagon-stimulated HGP, cAMP-responsive element–binding (CREB) phosphorylation, and expression of gluconeogenic genes in the liver and primary hepatocytes. Hepatocyte-specific TRAF2 knockout (HKO) mice exhibited normal body weight, blood glucose levels, and insulin sensitivity. Under HFD conditions, blood glucose levels were significantly lower (by >30%) in HKO than in control mice. Both insulin signaling and the hypoglycemic response to insulin were similar between HKO and control mice. In contrast, glucagon signaling and the hyperglycemic response to glucagon were severely impaired in HKO mice. In addition, TRAF2 overexpression significantly increased the ability of glucagon or a cAMP analog to stimulate CREB phosphorylation, gluconeogenic gene expression, and HGP in primary hepatocytes. These results suggest that the hepatic TRAF2 cell autonomously promotes hepatic gluconeogenesis by enhancing the hyperglycemic response to glucagon and other factors that increase cAMP levels, thus contributing to hyperglycemia in obesity.
Smac mimetics block inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) proteins to trigger TNFα-dependent apoptosis in cancer cells. However, only a small subset of cancer cells appear to be sensitive to Smac mimetics and even sensitive cells can develop resistance. Herein, we elucidated mechanisms underlying the intrinsic and acquired resistance of cancer cells to Smac mimetics. In vitro and in vivo investigations revealed that the expression of the cell surface protein LRIG1, a negative regulator of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), is downregulated in resistant derivatives of breast cancer cells sensitive to Smac mimetics. RNAi-mediated down-regulation of LRIG1 markedly attenuated the growth inhibitory activity of the Smac mimetic SM-164 in drug-sensitive breast and ovarian cancer cells. Further, LRIG1 downregulation attenuated TNFα gene expression induced by Smac mimetics and increased the activity of multiple RTKs, including c-Met and Ron. The multitargeted tyrosine kinase inhibitors Crizotinib and GSK1363089 greatly enhanced the anticancer activity of SM-164 in all resistant cell derivatives, with the combination of SM-164 and GSK1363089 also completely inhibiting the outgrowth of resistant tumors in vivo. Together, our findings show that both upregulation of RTK signaling and attenuated TNFα expression caused by LRIG1 downregulation confers resistance to Smac mimetics, with implications for a rational combination strategy.
IAPs; small-molecule inhibitors; resistance
The interaction between β-catenin and B-cell CLL/lymphoma 9 (BCL9), critical for the transcriptional activity of β-catenin, is mediated by a helical segment from BCL9 and a large binding groove in β-catenin. Design of potent, metabolically stable BCL9 peptides represents an attractive approach to inhibit the activity of β-catenin. In this study, we report the use of the Huisgen 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction to generate triazole-stapled BCL9 α-helical peptides. The high efficiency and mild conditions of this “click” reaction combined with the ease of synthesis of the necessary unnatural amino acids allows for facile synthesis of triazole-stapled peptides. We have performed extensive optimization of this approach and identified the optimal combinations of azido and alkynyl linkers necessary for stapling BCL9 helices. The unsymmetrical nature of the triazole staple also allowed the synthesis of double-stapled BCL9 peptides, which show a marked increase in helical character and an improvement in binding affinity and metabolic stability relative to wild-type and linear BCL9 peptides. This study lays the foundation for further optimization of these triazole-stapled BCL9 peptides as potent, metabolically stable and cell-permeable inhibitors to target the β-catenin and BCL9 interaction.
We report the discovery and characterization of SM-406 (compound 2), a potent and orally bioavailable Smac mimetic and an antagonist of the inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs). This compound binds to XIAP, cIAP1 and cIAP2 proteins with Ki values of 66.4 nM, 1.9 nM and 5.1 nM, respectively. Compound 2 effectively antagonizes XIAP BIR3 protein in a cell-free functional assay, induces rapid degradation of cellular cIAP1 protein and inhibits cancer cell growth in various human cancer cell lines. It has good oral bioavailability in mice, rats, non-human primates and dogs, is highly effective in induction of apoptosis in xenograft tumors and is capable of complete inhibition of tumor growth. Compound 2 is currently in Phase I clinical trials for the treatment of human cancer.
Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) is a leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), an upstream mediator of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)-3 is overexpressed in a variety of cancers, including SCCHN. Therapies such as monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors targeting EGFR have demonstrated limited antitumor efficacy, which may be explained, in part, by persistent STAT3 activation despite EGFR inhibition. STAT3 activation induces expression of target genes in SCCHN, including Bcl-XL, a mediator of antiapoptotic activity. Bcl-XL is commonly overexpressed in SCCHN where it correlates with chemoresistance, making it a potential therapeutic target. Targeting the EGFR-STAT3-Bcl-XL pathway at several levels, including the upstream receptor, the intracellular transcription factor, and the downstream target gene, has not been investigated previously. Using erlotinib, an EGFR-specific reversible tyrosine kinase inhibitor in combination with a STAT3 transcription factor decoy, we found enhanced antitumor effects in vitro and in vivo. The combination of the STAT3 decoy and gossypol, a small molecule targeting Bcl-XL, also yielded enhanced inhibition of cell proliferation. The triple combination of erlotinib, STAT3 decoy, and gossypol further enhanced cell growth inhibition and apoptosis in vitro, and it down-regulated signaling molecules further downstream of the EGFR-STAT3 signaling pathway, such as cyclin D1. These results suggest that combined targeting of several components of an oncogenic signaling pathway may be an effective therapeutic strategy for SCCHN.
One of the defining features of aggressive melanomas is their complexity. Hundreds of mutations and an ever increasing list of changes in the transcriptome and proteome distinguish normal from malignant melanocytic cells. Yet, despite this altered genetic background, a long-known attribute of melanomas is a relatively low rate of mutations in the p53 gene. However, it is unclear whether p53 is maintained in melanoma cells because it is required for their survival, or because it is functionally disabled. More pressing from a translational perspective, is to define whether there is a tumor cell-selective wiring of p53 that offers a window for therapeutic intervention. Here we provide genetic and pharmacological evidence demonstrating that p53 represents a liability to melanoma cells which they thwart by assuming an oncogenic dependency on the E3 ligase MDM2. Specifically, we used a combination of RNA interference and two structurally independent small molecule inhibitors of the p53/MDM2 interaction to assess the relative requirement of both proteins for the viability of normal melanocytes and a broad panel of melanoma cell lines. We demonstrated in vitro and in vivo that MDM2 is selectively required to blunt latent pro-senescence signals in melanoma cells. Notably, the outcome of MDM2 inactivation depends not only on the mutational status of p53, but also on its ability to signal to the transcription factor E2F1. These data support MDM2 as a drug target in melanoma cells, and identify E2F1 as a biomarker to consider when stratifying putative candidates for clinical studies of p53/MDM2 inhibitors.
melanoma; senescence; oncogene dependency; MDM-2 inhibitors
We have identified several ligands with high binding affinities to the dopamine D3 receptor and excellent selectivity over the D2 and D1 receptors. CJ-1639 (17) binds to the D3 receptor with a Ki value of 0.50 nM and displays a selectivity of >5,000 times over D2 and D1 receptors in binding assays using dopamine receptors expressed in the native rat brain tissues. CJ-1639 binds to human D3 receptor with a Ki value of 3.61 nM and displays over >1000-fold selectivity over human D1 and D2 receptors. CJ-1639 is active at 0.01 mg/kg at the dopamine D3 receptor in the rat and only starts to show a modest D2 activity at doses as high as 10 mg/kg. CJ-1639 is the most potent and selective D3 full agonist reported to date.
Dopamine receptors; ligands; agonists; drug abuse
Förster (fluorescence) resonance energy transfer (FRET) and fluorescence polarization (FP) are widely used technologies for monitoring bimolecular interactions and have been extensively used in high-throughput screening (HTS) for probe and drug discovery. Despite their popularity in HTS, it has been recognized that different assay technologies may generate different hit lists for the same biochemical interaction. Due to the high cost of large-scale HTS campaigns, one has to make a critical choice to employee one assay platform for a particular HTS. Here we report the design and development of a dual-readout HTS assay that combines two assay technologies into one system using the Mcl-1 and Noxa BH3 peptide interaction as a model system. In this system, both FP and FRET signals were simultaneously monitored from one reaction, which is termed “Dual-Readout F2 assay” with F2 for FP and FRET. This dual-readout technology has been optimized in a 1,536-well ultra-HTS format for the discovery of Mcl-1 protein inhibitors and achieved a robust performance. This F2 assay was further validated by screening a library of 102,255 compounds. As two assay platforms are utilized for the same target simultaneously, hit information is enriched without increasing the screening cost. This strategy can be generally extended to other FP-based assays and is expected to enrich primary HTS information and enhance the hit quality of HTS campaigns.
We have synthesized and evaluated a series of non-peptidic, bivalent Smac mimetics as antagonists of the inhibitor of apoptosis proteins and new anticancer agents. All these bivalent Smac mimetics bind to full-length XIAP with low nanomolar affinities and function as ultra-potent antagonists of XIAP. While these Smac mimetics bind to cIAP1/2 with similar low nanomolar affinities, their potencies to induce degradation of cIAP1/2 proteins in cells differ by more than 100-fold. The most potent bivalent Smac mimetics inhibit cell growth with IC50 values from 1–3 nM in the MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell line and are 100-times more potent than the least potent compounds. Determination of intracellular concentrations for several representative compounds showed that the linkers in these bivalent Smac mimetics significantly affect their intracellular concentrations, hence the overall cellular activity. Compound 27 completely inhibits tumor growth in the MDA-MB-231 xenografts, while causing no signs of toxicity in the animals.
Smac mimetics are being developed as a new class of anticancer therapies. Since the single-agent activity of Smac mimetics is very limited, rational combinations represent a viable strategy for their clinical development. The combination of Smac mimetics with TRAIL may be particularly attractive due to the low toxicity of TRAIL to normal cells and the synergistic antitumor activity observed for the combination. In the present study, we have investigated the combination synergy between TRAIL and a potent Smac mimetic, SM-164 in vitro and in vivo and the underlying molecular mechanism of action for the synergy. Our study demonstrates that SM-164 is highly synergistic with TRAIL in vitro in both TRAIL-sensitive and TRAIL-resistant cancer cell lines of breast, prostate, and colon cancer. Furthermore, the combination of SM-164 with TRAIL induces rapid tumor regression in vivo in a breast cancer xenograft model in which either agent is ineffective. Our data shows that XIAP and cIAP1, but not cIAP2, work in concert to attenuate the activity of TRAIL; SM-164 strongly enhances TRAIL activity by concurrently targeting XIAP and cIAP1. Moreover, while RIP1 plays a minimal role in TRAIL's activity as a single agent, it is required for the synergistic interaction between TRAIL and SM-164. Our present study provides a strong rationale to develop the combination of SM-164 and TRAIL as a new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of human cancer.
Smac Mimetic; TRAIL; Synergy; Tumor Regression
Chemoradiation is the treatment of choice for locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). However, radioresistance, which contributes to local recurrence, remains a significant therapeutic problem. In this study, we characterized SM-164, a small SMAC mimetic compound that promotes degradation of cIAP-1 (also known as BIRC2) and releases active caspases from XIAP inhibitory binding, as a radiosensitizing agent in HNSCC cells. We found that SM-164 at nanomolar concentrations induced radiosensitization in some HNSCC cell lines in a manner dependent on intrinsic sensitivity to caspase activation and apoptosis induction. Blockage of caspase activation via siRNA knockdown or a pan-caspase inhibitor, z-VAD-fmk largely abrogated SM-164 radiosensitization. On the other hand, the resistant lines with a high level of BCL-2 that blocks caspase activation and apoptosis induction became sensitive to radiation upon BCL-2 knockdown. Mechanistic studies revealed that SM-164 radiosensitization in sensitive cells was associated with NFκB activation and TNFα secretion, followed by activation of caspases-8 and -9, leading to enhanced apoptosis. Finally, SM-164 also radiosensitized human tumor xenograft, while causing minimal toxicity. Thus, SM-164 is a potent radiosensitizer via a mechanism involving caspase activation and holds promise for future clinical development as a novel class of radiosensitizer for the treatment of a subset of head and neck cancer patients.
Apoptosis; NF-κB activation; TNFα secretion; Caspase activation; cIAP-1 degradation; Radiosensitization
To develop antibody- and fluorescence-labeled superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticle (SPIO) “nanotheranostics” for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and fluorescence imaging of cancer cells and pH-dependent intracellular drug release.
SPIO nanoparticles (10 nm) were coated with amphiphilic polymers and PEGylated. The antibody HuCC49ΔCH2 and fluorescent dye 5-FAM were conjugated to the PEG of IONPs. Anticancer drugs doxorubicin (Dox), and azido-doxorubicin (Adox), MI-219, 17-DMAG containing primary amine, azide, secondary amine, and tertiary amine, respectively, were encapsulated into IONPs. The encapsulation efficiency and drug release at various pHs were determined using an LC-MS/MS. The cancer targeting and imaging were monitored using MRI and fluorescent microscopy in colon cancer cell line (LS174T). The pH-dependent drug release, intracellular distribution, and cytotoxicity were evaluated using microscopy and MTS assay.
The pegylation of SPIO and conjugation with antibody and 5-FAM increased SPIO size from 18 nm to 44 nm. Fluorescent imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Prussian blue staining demonstrated that HuCC49ΔCH2-SPIO increased cancer cell targeting. HuCC49ΔCH2-SPIO “nanotheranostics” decreased the T2 values in MRI of LS174T cells from 117.3±1.8 ms to 55.5±2.6 ms. The loading capacities of Dox, Adox, MI-219, and 17-DMAG were 3.16 ± 0.77%, 6.04± 0.61%, 2.22± 0.42%, and 0.09±0.07%, respectively. Dox, MI-219 and 17-DMAG showed pH-dependent release while Adox didn’t. Fluorescent imaging demonstrated the accumulation of HuCC49ΔCH2-SPIO “nanotheranostics” in endosomes/lysosomes. The encapsulated Dox was released in acidic lysosomes and diffused into cytosol and nuclei. In contrary, the encapsulated Adox only showed limited release in endosomes/lysosomes. HuCC49ΔCH2-SPIO “nanotheranostics” targetedly delivered more Dox to LS174T cells than nonspecific IgG-SPIO and resulted in a lower IC50 (1.44 μM v.s. 0.44 μM).
The developed HuCC49ΔCH2-SPIO “nanotheranostics” provides an integrated platform for cancer cell imaging, targeted anticancer drug delivery and pH-dependently drug release.
iron oxide nanoparticle (SPIO); MRI; fluorescent imaging; targeted drug delivery; nanotheranostics; doxorubicin; intracellular drug release