Background: The management of pancreatic cancer (PanCa) is exceptionally difficult due to poor response to available therapeutic modalities. Tubulins play a major role in cell dynamics, thus are important molecular targets for cancer therapy. Among various tubulins, βIII and βIV-tubulin isoforms have been primarily implicated in PanCa progression, metastasis and chemo-resistance. However, specific inhibitors of these isoforms that have potent anti-cancer activity with low toxicity are not readily available.
Methods: We determined anti-cancer molecular mechanisms and therapeutic efficacy of a novel small molecule inhibitor (VERU-111) using in vitro (MTS, wound healing, Boyden chamber and real-time xCELLigence assays) and in vivo (xenograft studies) models of PanCa. The effects of VERU-111 treatment on the expression of β-tubulin isoforms, apoptosis, cancer markers and microRNAs were determined by Western blot, immunohistochemistry (IHC), confocal microscopy, qRT-PCR and in situ hybridization (ISH) analyses.
Results: We have identified a novel small molecule inhibitor (VERU-111), which preferentially represses clinically important, βIII and βIV tubulin isoforms via restoring the expression of miR-200c. As a result, VERU-111 efficiently inhibited tumorigenic and metastatic characteristics of PanCa cells. VERU-111 arrested the cell cycle in the G2/M phase and induced apoptosis in PanCa cell lines via modulation of cell cycle regulatory (Cdc2, Cdc25c, and Cyclin B1) and apoptosis - associated (Bax, Bad, Bcl-2, and Bcl-xl) proteins. VERU-111 treatment also inhibited tumor growth (P < 0.01) in a PanCa xenograft mouse model.
Conclusions: This study has identified an inhibitor of βIII/βIV tubulins, which appears to have excellent potential as monotherapy or in combination with conventional therapeutic regimens for PanCa treatment.
Kashyap, V.K., Wang, Q., Setua, S. et al. Therapeutic efficacy of a novel βIII/βIV-tubulin inhibitor (VERU-111) in pancreatic cancer. J Exp Clin Cancer Res 38, 29 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13046-018-1009-7
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Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research