It has been shown in many solid tumors that the overexpression of the pro-survival Bcl-2 family members Bcl-2/Bcl-xL and Mcl-1 confers resistance to a variety of chemotherapeutic agents. We designed the BH3 α-helix mimetic JY-1-106 to engage the hydrophobic BH3-binding grooves on the surfaces of both Bcl-xL and Mcl-1.
JY-1-106–protein complexes were studied using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and the SILCS methodology. We have evaluated the in vitro effects of JY-1-106 by using a fluorescence polarization (FP) assay, an XTT assay, apoptosis assays, and immunoprecipitation and western-blot assays. A preclinical human cancer xenograft model was used to test the efficacy of JY-1-106 in vivo.
MD and SILCS simulations of the JY-1-106–protein complexes indicated the importance of the aliphatic side chains of JY-1-106 to binding and successfully predicted the improved affinity of the ligand for Bcl-xL over Mcl-1. Ligand binding affinities were measured via an FP assay using a fluorescently labeled Bak-BH3 peptide in vitro. Apoptosis induction via JY-1-106 was evidenced by TUNEL assay and PARP cleavage as well as by Bax–Bax dimerization. Release of multi-domain Bak from its inhibitory binding to Bcl-2/Bcl-xL and Mcl-1 using JY-1-106 was detected via immunoprecipitation (IP) western blotting.
At the cellular level, we compared the growth proliferation IC50s of JY-1-106 and ABT-737 in multiple cancer cell lines with various Bcl-xL and Mcl-1 expression levels. JY-1-106 effectively induced cell death regardless of the Mcl-1 expression level in ABT-737 resistant solid tumor cells, whilst toxicity toward normal human endothelial cells was limited. Furthermore, synergistic effects were observed in A549 cells using a combination of JY-1-106 and multiple chemotherapeutic agents. We also observed that JY-1-106 was a very effective agent in inducing apoptosis in metabolically stressed tumors. Finally, JY-1-106 was evaluated in a tumor-bearing nude mouse model, and was found to effectively repress tumor growth. Strong TUNEL signals in the tumor cells demonstrated the effectiveness of JY-1-106 in this animal model. No significant side effects were observed in mouse organs after multiple injections.
Taken together, these observations demonstrate that JY-1-106 is an effective pan-Bcl-2 inhibitor with very promising clinical potential.