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Pharmacophore-guided discovery of CDC25 inhibitors causing cell cycle arrest and tumor regression


Kabakci, Zeynep; Käppeli, Simon; Cantù, Claudio; Jensen, Lasse D; König, Christiane; Toggweiler, Janine; Gentili, Christian; Ribaudo, Giovanni; Zagotto, Giuseppe; Basler, Konrad; Pinna, Lorenzo A; Cozza, Giorgio; Ferrari, Stefano (2019). Pharmacophore-guided discovery of CDC25 inhibitors causing cell cycle arrest and tumor regression. Scientific Reports, 9(1):1335.

Abstract

CDC25 phosphatases play a key role in cell cycle transitions and are important targets for cancer therapy. Here, we set out to discover novel CDC25 inhibitors. Using a combination of computational methods, we defined a minimal common pharmacophore in established CDC25 inhibitors and performed virtual screening of a proprietary library. Based on the availability of crystal structures for CDC25A and CDC25B, we implemented a molecular docking strategy and carried out hit expansion/optimization. Enzymatic assays revealed that naphthoquinone scaffolds were the most promising CDC25 inhibitors among selected hits. At the molecular level, the compounds acted through a mixed-type mechanism of inhibition of phosphatase activity, involving reversible oxidation of cysteine residues. In 2D cell cultures, the compounds caused arrest of the cell cycle at the G1/S or at the G2/M transition. Mitotic markers analysis and time-lapse microscopy confirmed that CDK1 activity was impaired and that mitotic arrest was followed by death. Finally, the compounds induced differentiation, accompanied by decreased stemness properties, in intestinal crypt stem cell-derived Apc/K-Ras-mutant mouse organoids, and led to tumor regression and reduction of metastatic potential in zebrafish embryo xenografts used as in vivo model.

Abstract

CDC25 phosphatases play a key role in cell cycle transitions and are important targets for cancer therapy. Here, we set out to discover novel CDC25 inhibitors. Using a combination of computational methods, we defined a minimal common pharmacophore in established CDC25 inhibitors and performed virtual screening of a proprietary library. Based on the availability of crystal structures for CDC25A and CDC25B, we implemented a molecular docking strategy and carried out hit expansion/optimization. Enzymatic assays revealed that naphthoquinone scaffolds were the most promising CDC25 inhibitors among selected hits. At the molecular level, the compounds acted through a mixed-type mechanism of inhibition of phosphatase activity, involving reversible oxidation of cysteine residues. In 2D cell cultures, the compounds caused arrest of the cell cycle at the G1/S or at the G2/M transition. Mitotic markers analysis and time-lapse microscopy confirmed that CDK1 activity was impaired and that mitotic arrest was followed by death. Finally, the compounds induced differentiation, accompanied by decreased stemness properties, in intestinal crypt stem cell-derived Apc/K-Ras-mutant mouse organoids, and led to tumor regression and reduction of metastatic potential in zebrafish embryo xenografts used as in vivo model.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Molecular Life Sciences
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Uncontrolled Keywords:Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:1 December 2019
Deposited On:18 Feb 2020 10:09
Last Modified:11 Aug 2020 11:10
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2045-2322
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-38579-7
PubMed ID:30718768

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