Projects per year
Neuroblastoma is a biologically and clinically heterogeneous pediatric malignancy that includes a high-risk subset for which new therapeutic agents are urgently required. As well as MYCN amplification, activating point mutations of ALK and NRAS are associated with high-risk and relapsing neuroblastoma. As both ALK and RAS signal through the MEK/ERK pathway, we sought to evaluate two previously reported inhibitors of ETS-related transcription factors, which are transcriptional mediators of the Ras-MEK/ERK pathway in other cancers. Here we show that YK-4-279 suppressed growth and triggered apoptosis in nine neuroblastoma cell lines, while BRD42048, another ETV1 inhibitor, was ineffective. These results suggest that YK-4-279 acts independently of ETS-related transcription factors. Further analysis reveals that YK-4-279 induces mitotic arrest in prometaphase, resulting in subsequent cell death. Mechanistically, we show that YK-4-279 inhibits the formation of kinetochore microtubules, with treated cells showing a broad range of abnormalities including multipolar, fragmented and unseparated spindles, together leading to disrupted progression through mitosis. Notably, YK-4-279 does not affect microtubule acetylation, unlike the conventional mitotic poisons paclitaxel and vincristine. Consistent with this, we demonstrate that YK-4-279 overcomes vincristine-induced resistance in two neuroblastoma cell-line models. Furthermore, combinations of YK-4-279 with vincristine, paclitaxel or the Aurora kinase A inhibitor MLN8237/Alisertib show strong synergy, particularly at low doses. Thus, YK-4-279 could potentially be used as a single-agent or in combination therapies for the treatment of high-risk and relapsing neuroblastoma, as well as other cancers.
- Drug resistance/synergy