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1.  Selective HDAC1/HDAC2 Inhibitors Induce Neuroblastoma Differentiation 
Chemistry & biology  2013;20(5):713-725.
Summary
While cytotoxic chemotherapy remains the hallmark of cancer treatment, intensive regimens fall short in many malignancies, including high-risk neuroblastoma. One alternative strategy is to therapeutically promote tumor differentiation. We created a gene expression signature to measure neuroblast maturation, adapted it to a high-throughput platform, and screened a diversity oriented synthesis-generated small-molecule library for differentiation inducers. We identified BRD8430, containing a nine-membered lactam, an ortho-amino anilide functionality, and three chiral centers, as a selective Class I histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor (HDAC1>2>3). Further investigation demonstrated that selective HDAC1/HDAC2 inhibition using compounds or RNA interference induced differentiation and decreased viability in neuroblastoma cell lines. Combined treatment with 13-cis retinoic acid augmented these effects and enhanced activation of retinoic acid signaling. Therefore, by applying a chemical genomic screening approach we identified selective HDAC1/HDAC2 inhibition as a strategy to induce neuroblastoma differentiation.
doi:10.1016/j.chembiol.2013.03.020
PMCID: PMC3919449  PMID: 23706636
2.  Complementary Genomic Screens Identify SERCA as a Therapeutic Target in NOTCH1 Mutated Cancer 
Cancer cell  2013;23(3):390-405.
SUMMARY
Notch1 is a rational therapeutic target in several human cancers, but as a transcriptional regulator, it poses a drug discovery challenge. To identify Notch1 modulators, we performed two cell-based, high-throughput screens for small-molecule inhibitors and cDNA enhancers of a NOTCH1 allele bearing a leukemia-associated mutation. SERCA calcium channels emerged at the intersection of these complementary screens. SERCA inhibition preferentially impairs the maturation and activity of mutated Notch1 receptors and induces a G0/G1 arrest in NOTCH1-mutated human leukemia cells. A small-molecule SERCA inhibitor has on-target activity in two mouse models of human leukemia and interferes with Notch signaling in Drosophila. These studies “credential” SERCA as a therapeutic target in cancers associated with NOTCH1 mutations.
doi:10.1016/j.ccr.2013.01.015
PMCID: PMC3709972  PMID: 23434461
3.  New Approaches to Target T-ALL 
Frontiers in Oncology  2014;4:170.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common malignancy in children. Although it is now curable in 80–90% of cases, patients with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) experience a higher frequency of induction failure and early relapse. Despite aggressive treatment approaches, including transplantation and new salvage regimens, most children with relapsed T-ALL will not be cured. As such, we are in need of new targeted therapies for the disease. Recent advances in the molecular characterization of T-ALL have uncovered a number of new therapeutic targets. This review will summarize recent advancements in the study of inhibiting the NOTCH1, PI3K–AKT, and Cyclin D3:CDK4/6 pathways as therapeutic strategies for T-ALL. We will focus on pre-clinical studies supporting the testing of small-molecule inhibitors targeting these proteins and the rationale of combination therapies. Moreover, epigenetic approaches to modulate T-ALL are rapidly emerging. Here, we will discuss the data supporting the role of bromodomain and extra-terminal bromodomain inhibitors in human T-ALL.
doi:10.3389/fonc.2014.00170
PMCID: PMC4085879  PMID: 25072021
T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia; NOTCH1; cyclins; cyclin-dependent kinases; PI3K/AKT/mTOR; PI3K pathway inhibitors; BRD4; bromodomain inhibitors
4.  The intersection of genetic and chemical genomic screens identifies GSK-3α as a target in human acute myeloid leukemia 
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common form of acute leukemia in adults. Long-term survival of patients with AML has changed little over the past decade, necessitating the identification and validation of new AML targets. Integration of genomic approaches with small-molecule and genetically based high-throughput screening holds the promise of improved discovery of candidate targets for cancer therapy. Here, we identified a role for glycogen synthase kinase 3α (GSK-3α) in AML by performing 2 independent small-molecule library screens and an shRNA screen for perturbations that induced a differentiation expression signature in AML cells. GSK-3 is a serine-threonine kinase involved in diverse cellular processes, including differentiation, signal transduction, cell cycle regulation, and proliferation. We demonstrated that specific loss of GSK-3α induced differentiation in AML by multiple measurements, including induction of gene expression signatures, morphological changes, and cell surface markers consistent with myeloid maturation. GSK-3α–specific suppression also led to impaired growth and proliferation in vitro, induction of apoptosis, loss of colony formation in methylcellulose, and anti-AML activity in vivo. Although the role of GSK-3β has been well studied in cancer development, these studies support a role for GSK-3α in AML.
doi:10.1172/JCI46465
PMCID: PMC3287215  PMID: 22326953
5.  Characterization of Notch1 Antibodies That Inhibit Signaling of Both Normal and Mutated Notch1 Receptors 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9094.
Background
Notch receptors normally play a key role in guiding a variety of cell fate decisions during development and differentiation of metazoan organisms. On the other hand, dysregulation of Notch1 signaling is associated with many different types of cancer as well as tumor angiogenesis, making Notch1 a potential therapeutic target.
Principal Findings
Here we report the in vitro activities of inhibitory Notch1 monoclonal antibodies derived from cell-based and solid-phase screening of a phage display library. Two classes of antibodies were found, one directed against the EGF-repeat region that encompasses the ligand-binding domain (LBD), and the second directed against the activation switch of the receptor, the Notch negative regulatory region (NRR). The antibodies are selective for Notch1, inhibiting Jag2-dependent signaling by Notch1 but not by Notch 2 and 3 in reporter gene assays, with EC50 values as low as 5±3 nM and 0.13±0.09 nM for the LBD and NRR antibodies, respectively, and fail to recognize Notch4. While more potent, NRR antibodies are incomplete antagonists of Notch1 signaling. The antagonistic activity of LBD, but not NRR, antibodies is strongly dependent on the activating ligand. Both LBD and NRR antibodies bind to Notch1 on human tumor cell lines and inhibit the expression of sentinel Notch target genes, including HES1, HES5, and DTX1. NRR antibodies also strongly inhibit ligand-independent signaling in heterologous cells transiently expressing Notch1 receptors with diverse NRR “class I” point mutations, the most common type of mutation found in human T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). In contrast, NRR antibodies failed to antagonize Notch1 receptors bearing rare “class II” or “class III” mutations, in which amino acid insertions generate a duplicated or constitutively sensitive metalloprotease cleavage site. Signaling in T-ALL cell lines bearing class I mutations is partially refractory to inhibitory antibodies as compared to cell-penetrating gamma-secretase inhibitors.
Conclusions/Significance
Antibodies that compete with Notch1 ligand binding or that bind to the negative regulatory region can act as potent inhibitors of Notch1 signaling. These antibodies may have clinical utility for conditions in which inhibition of signaling by wild-type Notch1 is desired, but are likely to be of limited value for treatment of T-ALLs associated with aberrant Notch1 activation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009094
PMCID: PMC2817004  PMID: 20161710

Results 1-5 (5)