Small-Molecule ONC201/TIC10 Targets Chemotherapy-Resistant Colorectal Cancer Stem-like Cells in an Akt/Foxo3a/TRAIL-Dependent Manner.
ABSTRACT: Self-renewing colorectal cancer stem/progenitor cells (CSC) contribute to tumor maintenance and resistance to therapy. Therapeutic targeting of CSCs could improve treatment response and prolong patient survival. ONC201/TIC10 is a first-in-class antitumor agent that induces TRAIL pathway-mediated cell death in cancer cells without observed toxicity. We have previously described that ONC201/TIC10 exposure leads to transcriptional induction of the TRAIL gene via transcription factor Foxo3a, which is activated by dual inactivation of Akt and ERK. The Akt and ERK pathways serve as important targets in CSCs. Foxo3a is a key mediator of Akt and ERK-mediated CSC regulation. We hypothesized that the potent antitumor effect of ONC201/TIC10 in colorectal cancer involves targeting CSCs and bulk tumor cells. ONC201/TIC10 depletes CD133(+), CD44(+), and Aldefluor(+) cells in vitro and in vivo. TIC10 significantly inhibits colonosphere formation of unsorted and sorted 5-fluorouracil-resistant CSCs. ONC201/TIC10 significantly reduces CSC-initiated xenograft tumor growth in mice and prevents the passage of these tumors. ONC201/TIC10 treatment also decreased xenograft tumor initiation and was superior to 5-fluorouracil treatment. Thus, ONC201/TIC10 inhibits CSC self-renewal in vitro and in vivo. ONC201/TIC10 inhibits Akt and ERK, consequently activating Foxo3a and significantly induces cell surface TRAIL and DR5 expression in both CSCs and non-CSCs. ONC201/TIC10-mediated anti-CSC effect is significantly blocked by the TRAIL sequestering antibody RIK-2. Overexpression of Akt, DR5 knockdown, and Foxo3a knockdown rescues ONC201/TIC10-mediated depletion of CD44(+) cells and colonosphere inhibition. In conclusion, ONC201/TIC10 is a promising agent for colorectal cancer therapy that targets both non-CSCs and CSCs in an Akt-Foxo3a-TRAIL-dependent manner.
Project description:Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) selectively targets cancer cells. The present preclinical study investigated the anti-cancer efficiency of ONC201, a first-in-class small molecule TRAIL inducer, in lung cancer cells. We showed that ONC201 was cytotoxic and anti-proliferative in both established (A549 and H460 lines) and primary human lung cancer cells. It was yet non-cytotoxic to normal lung epithelial cells. Further, ONC201 induced exogenous apoptosis activation in lung cancer cells, which was evidenced by TRAIL/death receptor-5 (DR5) induction and caspase-8 activation. The caspase-8 inhibitor or TRAIL/DR5 siRNA knockdown alleviated ONC201's cytotoxicity against lung cancer cells. Molecularly, ONC201 in-activated Akt-S6K1 and Erk signalings in lung cancer cells, causing Foxo3a nuclear translocation. For the in vivo studies, intraperitoneal injection of ONC201 at well-tolerated doses significantly inhibited xenografted A549 tumor growth in severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice. Further, ONC201 administration induced TRAIL/DR5 expression, yet inactivated Akt-S6K1 and Erk in tumor tissues. These results of the study demonstrates the potent anti-lung cancer activity by ONC201.
Project description:ONC201 (also called TIC10) is a small molecule that inactivates the cell proliferation- and cell survival-promoting kinases Akt and ERK and induces cell death through the proapoptotic protein TRAIL. ONC201 is currently in early-phase clinical testing for various malignancies. We found through gene expression and protein analyses that ONC201 triggered an increase in TRAIL abundance and cell death through an integrated stress response (ISR) involving the transcription factor ATF4, the transactivator CHOP, and the TRAIL receptor DR5. ATF4 was not activated in ONC201-resistant cancer cells, and in ONC201-sensitive cells, knockdown of ATF4 or CHOP partially abrogated ONC201-induced cytotoxicity and diminished the ONC201-stimulated increase in DR5 abundance. The activation of ATF4 in response to ONC201 required the kinases HRI and PKR, which phosphorylate and activate the translation initiation factor eIF2?. ONC201 rapidly triggered cell cycle arrest, which was associated with decreased abundance of cyclin D1, decreased activity of the kinase complex mTORC1, and dephosphorylation of the retinoblastoma (Rb) protein. The abundance of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) negatively correlated with the extent of apoptosis in response to ONC201. These effects of ONC201 were independent of whether cancer cells had normal or mutant p53. Thus, ONC201 induces cell death through the coordinated induction of TRAIL by an ISR pathway.
Project description:Cancer stem cells (CSCs) correlate with recurrence, metastasis and poor survival in clinical studies. Encouraging results from clinical trials of CSC inhibitors have further validated CSCs as therapeutic targets. ONC201 is a first-in-class small molecule imipridone in Phase I/II clinical trials for advanced cancer. We have previously shown that ONC201 targets self-renewing, chemotherapy-resistant colorectal CSCs via Akt/ERK inhibition and DR5/TRAIL induction. In this study, we demonstrate that the anti-CSC effects of ONC201 involve early changes in stem cell-related gene expression prior to tumor cell death induction. A targeted network analysis of gene expression profiles in colorectal cancer cells revealed that ONC201 downregulates stem cell pathways such as Wnt signaling and modulates genes (ID1, ID2, ID3 and ALDH7A1) known to regulate self-renewal in colorectal, prostate cancer and glioblastoma. ONC201-mediated changes in CSC-related gene expression were validated at the RNA and protein level for each tumor type. Accordingly, we observed inhibition of self-renewal and CSC markers in prostate cancer cell lines and patient-derived glioblastoma cells upon ONC201 treatment. Interestingly, ONC201-mediated CSC depletion does not occur in colorectal cancer cells with acquired resistance to ONC201. Finally, we observed that basal expression of CSC-related genes (ID1, CD44, HES7 and TCF3) significantly correlate with ONC201 efficacy in >1000 cancer cell lines and combining the expression of multiple genes leads to a stronger overall prediction. These proof-of-concept studies provide a rationale for testing CSC expression at the RNA and protein level as a predictive and pharmacodynamic biomarker of ONC201 response in ongoing clinical studies.
Project description:ONC201 was originally discovered as TNF-Related Apoptosis Inducing Ligand (TRAIL)-inducing compound TIC10. ONC201 appears to act as a selective antagonist of the G protein coupled receptor (GPCR) dopamine receptor D2 (DRD2), and as an allosteric agonist of mitochondrial protease caseinolytic protease P (ClpP). Downstream of target engagement, ONC201 activates the ATF4/CHOP-mediated integrated stress response leading to TRAIL/Death Receptor 5 (DR5) activation, inhibits oxidative phosphorylation via c-myc, and inactivates Akt/ERK signaling in tumor cells. This typically results in DR5/TRAIL-mediated apoptosis of tumor cells; however, DR5/TRAIL-independent apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, or antiproliferative effects also occur. The effects of ONC201 extend beyond bulk tumor cells to include cancer stem cells, cancer associated fibroblasts and immune cells within the tumor microenvironment that can contribute to its efficacy. ONC201 is orally administered, crosses the intact blood brain barrier, and is under evaluation in clinical trials in patients with advanced solid tumors and hematological malignancies. ONC201 has single agent clinical activity in tumor types that are enriched for DRD2 and/or ClpP expression including specific subtypes of high-grade glioma, endometrial cancer, prostate cancer, mantle cell lymphoma, and adrenal tumors. Synergy with radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immune-checkpoint agents has been identified in preclinical models and is being evaluated in clinical trials. Structure-activity relationships based on the core pharmacophore of ONC201, termed the imipridone scaffold, revealed novel potent compounds that are being developed. Imipridones represent a novel approach to therapeutically target previously undruggable GPCRs, ClpP, and innate immune pathways in oncology.
Project description:Recombinant TRAIL and agonistic antibodies to death receptors (DRs) have been in clinical trial but displayed limited anti-cancer efficacy. Lack of functional DR expression in tumors is a major limiting factor. We report here that chromatin regulator KDM4A/JMJD2A, not KDM4B, has a pivotal role in silencing tumor cell expression of both TRAIL and its receptor DR5. In TRAIL-sensitive and -resistant cancer cells of lung, breast and prostate, KDM4A small-molecule inhibitor compound-4 (C-4) or gene silencing strongly induces TRAIL and DR5 expression, and causes TRAIL-dependent apoptotic cell death. KDM4A inhibition also strongly sensitizes cells to TRAIL. C-4 alone potently inhibits tumor growth with marked induction of TRAIL and DR5 expression in the treated tumors and effectively sensitizes them to the newly developed TRAIL-inducer ONC201. Mechanistically, C-4 does not appear to act through the Akt-ERK-FOXO3a pathway. Instead, it switches histone modifying enzyme complexes at promoters of TRAIL and DR5 transcriptional activator CHOP gene by dissociating KDM4A and nuclear receptor corepressor (NCoR)-HDAC complex and inducing the recruitment of histone acetylase CBP. Thus, our results reveal KDM4A as a key epigenetic silencer of TRAIL and DR5 in tumors and establish inhibitors of KDM4A as a novel strategy for effectively sensitizing tumors to TRAIL pathway-based therapeutics.
Project description:ONC201 is the founding member of a novel class of anti-cancer compounds called imipridones that is currently in Phase II clinical trials in multiple advanced cancers. Since the discovery of ONC201 as a p53-independent inducer of TRAIL gene transcription, preclinical studies have determined that ONC201 has anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects against a broad range of tumor cells but not normal cells. The mechanism of action of ONC201 involves engagement of PERK-independent activation of the integrated stress response, leading to tumor upregulation of DR5 and dual Akt/ERK inactivation, and consequent Foxo3a activation leading to upregulation of the death ligand TRAIL. ONC201 is orally active with infrequent dosing in animals models, causes sustained pharmacodynamic effects, and is not genotoxic. The first-in-human clinical trial of ONC201 in advanced aggressive refractory solid tumors confirmed that ONC201 is exceptionally well-tolerated and established the recommended phase II dose of 625 mg administered orally every three weeks defined by drug exposure comparable to efficacious levels in preclinical models. Clinical trials are evaluating the single agent efficacy of ONC201 in multiple solid tumors and hematological malignancies and exploring alternative dosing regimens. In addition, chemical analogs that have shown promise in other oncology indications are in pre-clinical development. In summary, the imipridone family that comprises ONC201 and its chemical analogs represent a new class of anti-cancer therapy with a unique mechanism of action being translated in ongoing clinical trials.
Project description:Recombinant tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is an antitumor protein that is in clinical trials as a potential anticancer therapy but suffers from drug properties that may limit efficacy such as short serum half-life, stability, cost, and biodistribution, particularly with respect to the brain. To overcome such limitations, we identified TRAIL-inducing compound 10 (TIC10), a potent, orally active, and stable small molecule that transcriptionally induces TRAIL in a p53-independent manner and crosses the blood-brain barrier. TIC10 induces a sustained up-regulation of TRAIL in tumors and normal cells that may contribute to the demonstrable antitumor activity of TIC10. TIC10 inactivates kinases Akt and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), leading to the translocation of Foxo3a into the nucleus, where it binds to the TRAIL promoter to up-regulate gene transcription. TIC10 is an efficacious antitumor therapeutic agent that acts on tumor cells and their microenvironment to enhance the concentrations of the endogenous tumor suppressor TRAIL.
Project description:ONC201/TIC10 is a small molecule initially discovered by its ability to coordinately induce and activate the TRAIL pathway selectively in tumor cells and has recently entered clinical trials in adult advanced cancers. The anti-tumor activity of ONC201 has previously been demonstrated in several preclinical models of cancer, including refractory solid tumors and a transgenic lymphoma mouse model. Based on the need for new safe and effective therapies in pediatric non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and the non-toxic preclinical profile of ONC201, we investigated the in vitro efficacy of ONC201 in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) cell lines to evaluate its therapeutic potential for this disease. ONC201 caused a dose-dependent reduction in the cell viability of NHL cell lines that resulted from induction of apoptosis. As expected from prior observations, induction of TRAIL and its receptor DR5 was also observed in these cell lines. Furthermore, dual induction of TRAIL and DR5 appeared to drive the observed apoptosis and TRAIL expression was correlated linearly with sub-G1 DNA content, suggesting its potential role as a biomarker of tumor response to ONC201-treated lymphoma cells. We further investigated combinations of ONC201 with approved chemotherapeutic agents used to treat lymphoma. ONC201 exhibited synergy in combination with the anti-metabolic agent cytarabine in vitro, in addition to cooperating with other therapies. Together these findings indicate that ONC201 is an effective TRAIL pathway-inducer as a monoagent that can be combined with chemotherapy to enhance therapeutic responses in pediatric NHL.
Project description:ONC201/TIC10 is a small-molecule inducer of the TRAIL gene under current investigation as a novel anticancer agent. In this study, we identify critical molecular determinants of ONC201 sensitivity offering potential utility as pharmacodynamic or predictive response markers. By screening a library of kinase siRNAs in combination with a subcytotoxic dose of ONC201, we identified several kinases that ablated tumor cell sensitivity, including the MAPK pathway-inducer KSR1. Unexpectedly, KSR1 silencing did not affect MAPK signaling in the presence or absence of ONC201, but instead reduced expression of the antiapoptotic proteins FLIP, Mcl-1, Bcl-2, cIAP1, cIAP2, and survivin. In parallel to this work, we also conducted a synergy screen in which ONC201 was combined with approved small-molecule anticancer drugs. In multiple cancer cell populations, ONC201 synergized with diverse drug classes, including the multikinase inhibitor sorafenib. Notably, combining ONC201 and sorafenib led to synergistic induction of TRAIL and its receptor DR5 along with a potent induction of cell death. In a mouse xenograft model of hepatocellular carcinoma, we demonstrated that ONC201 and sorafenib cooperatively and safely triggered tumor regressions. Overall, our results established a set of determinants for ONC201 sensitivity that may predict therapeutic response, particularly in settings of sorafenib cotreatment to enhance anticancer responses.
Project description:Despite the success of antiretroviral therapy (ART), eradication of HIV-1 from brain reservoirs remains elusive. HIV-1 brain reservoirs include perivascular macrophages that are behind the blood-brain barrier and difficult to access by ART. Macrophages express transcription factor FOXO3a and the TNF superfamily cytokine TRAIL, which are known to target HIV-1-infected macrophages for viral inhibition. ONC201 is a novel and potent FOXO3a activator capable of inducing TRAIL. It can cross the blood-brain barrier, and has shown antitumor effects in clinical trials. We hypothesized that activation of FOXO3a/TRAIL by ONC201 will inhibit HIV-1 replication in macrophages. Using primary human monocyte-derived macrophages, we demonstrated that ONC201 dose-dependently decreased replication levels of both HIV-1 laboratory strain and primary strains as determined by HIV-1 reverse transcriptase activity assay. Consistent with data on HIV-1 replication, ONC201 also reduced intracellular and extracellular p24, viral RNA, and integrated HIV-1 DNA in infected macrophages. Blocking TRAIL or knockdown of FOXO3a with siRNA reversed ONC201-mediated HIV-1 suppression, suggesting that ONC201 inhibits HIV-1 through FOXO3a and TRAIL. The anti-HIV-1 effect of ONC201 was further validated in vivo in NOD/scid-IL-2Rgcnull mice. After intracranial injection of HIV-1-infected macrophages into the basal ganglia, we treated the mice daily with ONC201 through intraperitoneal injection for six days. ONC201 significantly decreased p24 levels in both the macrophages and the brain tissues, suggesting that ONC201 suppresses HIV-1 in vivo. Therefore, ONC201 can be a promising drug candidate to combat persistent HIV-1 infection in the brain.