Design and evaluation of novel glutaminase inhibitors.
ABSTRACT: A novel set of GAC (kidney glutaminase isoform C) inhibitors able to inhibit the enzymatic activity of GAC and the growth of the triple negative MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells with low nanomolar potency is described. Compounds in this series have a reduced number of rotatable bonds, improved ClogPs, microsomal stability and ligand efficiency when compared to the leading GAC inhibitors BPTES and CB-839. Property improvements were achieved by the replacement of the flexible n-diethylthio or the n-butyl moiety present in the leading inhibitors by heteroatom substituted heterocycloalkanes.
Project description:Altered glycolytic flux in cancer cells (the "Warburg effect") causes their proliferation to rely upon elevated glutamine metabolism ("glutamine addiction"). This requirement is met by the overexpression of glutaminase C (GAC), which catalyzes the first step in glutamine metabolism and therefore represents a potential therapeutic target. The small molecule CB-839 was reported to be more potent than other allosteric GAC inhibitors, including the parent compound bis-2-(5-phenylacetamido-1,2,4-thiadiazol-2-yl)ethyl (BPTES), and is in clinical trials. Recently, we described the synthesis of BPTES analogs having distinct saturated heterocyclic cores as a replacement for the flexible chain moiety, with improved microsomal stability relative to CB-839 and BPTES. Here, we show that one of these new compounds, UPGL00004, like CB-839, more potently inhibits the enzymatic activity of GAC, compared with BPTES. We also compare the abilities of UPGL00004, CB-839, and BPTES to directly bind to recombinant GAC and demonstrate that UPGL00004 has a similar binding affinity as CB-839 for GAC. We also show that UPGL00004 potently inhibits the growth of triple-negative breast cancer cells, as well as tumor growth when combined with the anti-vascular endothelial growth factor antibody bevacizumab. Finally, we compare the X-ray crystal structures for UPGL00004 and CB-839 bound to GAC, verifying that UPGL00004 occupies the same binding site as CB-839 or BPTES and that all three inhibitors regulate the enzymatic activity of GAC via a similar allosteric mechanism. These results provide insights regarding the potency of these inhibitors that will be useful in designing novel small-molecules that target a key enzyme in cancer cell metabolism.
Project description:The first step in glutamine catabolism is catalysis by the mitochondrial enzyme glutaminase, with a specific isoform, glutaminase C (GAC), being highly expressed in cancer cells. GAC activation requires the formation of homotetramers, promoted by anionic allosteric activators such as inorganic phosphate. This leads to the proper orientation of a flexible loop proximal to the dimer-dimer interface that is essential for catalysis (i.e. the "activation loop"). A major class of allosteric inhibitors of GAC, with the prototype being bis-2-(5-phenylacetamido-1,2,4-thiadiazol-2-yl)ethyl sulfide (BPTES) and the related molecule CB-839, binds to the activation loop and induces the formation of an inactive tetramer (two inhibitors bound per active tetramer). Here we describe a direct readout for monitoring the dynamics of the activation loop of GAC in response to these allosteric inhibitors, as well as allosteric activators, through the substitution of phenylalanine at position 327 with tryptophan (F327W). The tryptophan fluorescence of the GAC(F327W) mutant undergoes a marked quenching upon the binding of BPTES or CB-839, yielding titration profiles that make it possible to measure the binding affinities of these inhibitors for the enzyme. Allosteric activators like phosphate induce the opposite effect (i.e. fluorescence enhancement). These results describe direct readouts for the binding of the BPTES class of allosteric inhibitors as well as for inorganic phosphate and related activators of GAC, which should facilitate screening for additional modulators of this important metabolic enzyme.
Project description:Cancer cells employ glutaminolysis to provide a source of intermediates for their upregulated biosynthetic needs. Glutaminase, which catalyzes the conversion of glutamine to glutamate, is gaining increasing attention as a potential drug target. Small-molecule inhibitors such as BPTES and CB-839, which target the allosteric site of glutaminase with high specificity, demonstrate immense promise as anti-tumor drugs. Here, we report the study of a new BPTES analog, N,N'-(5,5'-(trans-cyclohexane-1,3-diyl)bis(1,3,4-tiadiazole-5,2-diyl))bis(2-phenylacetamide) (trans-CBTBP), and compared its inhibitory effect against that of CB-839 and BPTES. We show that CB-839 has a 30- and 50-fold lower IC50 than trans-CBTBP and BPTES, respectively. To explore the structural basis for the differences in their inhibitory efficacy, we solved the complex structures of cKGA with 1S, 3S-CBTBP and CB-839. We found that CB-839 produces a greater degree of interaction with cKGA than 1S, 3S-CBTBP or BPTES. The results of this study will facilitate the rational design of new KGA inhibitors to better treat glutamine-addicted cancers.
Project description:Background:Metabolism of glutamine by glutaminase 1 (GLS1) plays a key role in tumor cell proliferation via the generation of ATP and intermediates required for macromolecular synthesis. We hypothesized that glutamine metabolism also plays a role in proliferation of autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) cells and that inhibiting GLS1 could slow cyst growth in animal models of ADPKD. Methods:Primary normal human kidney and ADPKD human cyst-lining epithelial cells were cultured in the presence or absence of two pharmacologic inhibitors of GLS1, bis-2-(5-phenylacetamido-1,2,4-thiadiazol-2-yl)ethyl sulfide 3 (BPTES) and CB-839, and the effect on proliferation, cyst growth in collagen and activation of downstream signaling pathways were assessed. We then determined if inhibiting GLS1 in vivo with CB-839 in the Aqp2-Cre; Pkd1fl/fl and Pkhd1-Cre; Pkd1fl/fl mouse models of ADPKD slowed cyst growth. Results:We found that an isoform of GLS1 (GLS1-GAC) is upregulated in cyst-lining epithelia in human ADPKD kidneys and in mouse models of ADPKD. Both BPTES and CB-839 blocked forskolin-induced cyst formation in vitro. Inhibiting GLS1 in vivo with CB-839 led to variable outcomes in two mouse models of ADPKD. CB-839 slowed cyst growth in Aqp2-Cre; Pkd1fl/fl mice, but not in Pkhd1-Cre; Pkd1fl/fl mice. While CB-839 inhibited mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and MEK activation in Aqp2-Cre; Pkd1fl/fl, it did not in Pkhd1-Cre; Pkd1fl/fl mice. Conclusion:These findings provide support that alteration in glutamine metabolism may play a role in cyst growth. However, testing in other models of PKD and identification of the compensatory metabolic changes that bypass GLS1 inhibition will be critical to validate GLS1 as a drug target either alone or when combined with inhibitors of other metabolic pathways.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Glutamine serves as an important nutrient with many cancer types displaying glutamine dependence. Following cellular uptake glutamine is converted to glutamate in a reaction catalysed by mitochondrial glutaminase. This glutamate has many uses, including acting as an anaplerotic substrate (via alpha-ketoglutarate) to replenish TCA cycle intermediates. CB-839 is a potent, selective, orally bioavailable inhibitor of glutaminase that has activity in Triple receptor-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) cell lines and evidence of efficacy in advanced TNBC patients. METHODS:A panel of eleven breast cancer cell lines was used to investigate the anti-proliferative effects of the glutaminase inhibitors CB-839 and BPTES in different types of culture medium, with or without additional pyruvate supplementation. The abundance of the TCA cycle intermediate fumarate was quantified as a measure if TCA cycle anaplerosis. Pyruvate secretion by TNBC cultures was then assessed with or without AZD3965, a monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1) inhibitor. Finally, two dimensional (2D) monolayer and three dimensional (3D) spheroid assays were used to compare the effect of microenvironmental growth conditions on CB-839 activity. RESULTS:The anti-proliferative activity of CB-839 in a panel of breast cancer cell lines was similar to published reports, but with a major caveat; growth inhibition by CB-839 was strongly attenuated in culture medium containing pyruvate. This pyruvate-dependent attenuation was also observed with a related glutaminase inhibitor, BPTES. Studies demonstrated that exogenous pyruvate acted as an anaplerotic substrate preventing the decrease of fumarate in CB-839-treated conditions. Furthermore, endogenously produced pyruvate secreted by TNBC cell lines was able to act in a paracrine manner to significantly decrease the sensitivity of recipient cells to glutaminase inhibition. Suppression of pyruvate secretion using the MCT1 inhibitor AZD3965, antagonised this paracrine effect and increased CB-839 activity. Finally, CB-839 activity was significantly compromised in 3D compared with 2D TNBC culture models, suggesting that 3D microenvironmental features impair glutaminase inhibitor responsiveness. CONCLUSION:This study highlights the potential influence that both circulating and tumour-derived pyruvate can have on glutaminase inhibitor efficacy. Furthermore, it highlights the benefits of 3D spheroid cultures to model the features of the tumour microenvironment and improve the in vitro investigation of cancer metabolism-targeted therapeutics.
Project description:Metabolic reprogramming has been described as a hallmark of transformed cancer cells. In this study, we examined the role of the glutamine (Gln) utilization pathway in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cell lines and primary AML samples. Our results indicate that a subset of AML cell lines is sensitive to Gln deprivation. Glutaminase (GLS) is a mitochondrial enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of Gln to glutamate. One of the two GLS isoenzymes, GLS1 is highly expressed in cancer and encodes two different isoforms: kidney (KGA) and glutaminase C (GAC). We analyzed mRNA expression of GLS1 splicing variants, GAC and KGA, in several large AML datasets and identified increased levels of expression in AML patients with complex cytogenetics and within specific molecular subsets. Inhibition of glutaminase by allosteric GLS inhibitor bis-2-(5-phenylacetamido-1, 2, 4-thiadiazol-2-yl) ethyl sulfide or by novel, potent, orally bioavailable GLS inhibitor CB-839 reduced intracellular glutamate levels and inhibited growth of AML cells. In cell lines and patient samples harboring IDH1/IDH2 (Isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 and 2) mutations, CB-839 reduced production of oncometabolite 2-hydroxyglutarate, inducing differentiation. These findings indicate potential utility of glutaminase inhibitors in AML therapy, which can inhibit cell growth, induce apoptosis and/or differentiation in specific leukemia subtypes.
Project description:Allosteric inhibitors of glutaminase (GAC), such as BPTES, CB-839 and UPGL00019, have great promise as inhibitors of cancer cell growth, but potent inhibitors with drug-like qualities have been difficult to achieve. Here, a small library of GAC inhibitors based on the UPGL00019 core is described. This set of derivatives was designed to assess if one or both of the phenylacetyl groups flanking the UPGL00019 core can be replaced by smaller simple aliphatic acyl groups without loss in potency. We found that one of the phenylacetyl moieties can be replaced by a set of small aliphatic moieties without loss in potency. We also found that enzymatic potency co-varies with the VDW volume or the maximum projection area of the groups used as replacements of the phenylacetyl moiety and used literature X-ray data to provide an explanation for this finding.
Project description:Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) lack progesterone and estrogen receptors and do not have amplified human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, the main therapeutic targets for managing breast cancer. TNBCs have an altered metabolism, including an increased Warburg effect and glutamine dependence, making the glutaminase inhibitor CB-839 therapeutically promising for this tumor type. Accordingly, CB-839 is currently in phase I/II clinical trials. However, not all TNBCs respond to CB-839 treatment, and the tumor resistance mechanism is not yet fully understood. Here we classified cell lines as CB-839-sensitive or -resistant according to their growth responses to CB-839. Compared with sensitive cells, resistant cells were less glutaminolytic and, upon CB-839 treatment, exhibited a smaller decrease in ATP content and less mitochondrial fragmentation, an indicator of poor mitochondrial health. Transcriptional analyses revealed that the expression levels of genes linked to lipid metabolism were altered between sensitive and resistant cells and between breast cancer tissues (available from The Cancer Genome Atlas project) with low versus high glutaminase (GLS) gene expression. Of note, CB-839-resistant TNBC cells had increased carnitine palmitoyltransferase 2 (CPT2) protein and CPT1 activity levels. In agreement, CB-839-resistant TNBC cells mobilized more fatty acids into mitochondria for oxidation, which responded to AMP-activated protein kinase and acetyl-CoA carboxylase signaling. Moreover, chemical inhibition of both glutaminase and CPT1 decreased cell proliferation and migration of CB-839-resistant cells compared with single inhibition of each enzyme. We propose that dual targeting of glutaminase and CPT1 activities may have therapeutic relevance for managing CB-839-resistant tumors.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Glutaminase inhibitors target cancer cells by blocking the conversion of glutamine to glutamate, thereby potentially interfering with anaplerosis and synthesis of amino acids and glutathione. The drug CB-839 has shown promising effects in preclinical experiments and is currently undergoing clinical trials in several human malignancies, including triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). However, response to glutaminase inhibitors is variable and there is a need for identification of predictive response biomarkers. The aim of this study was to determine how glutamine is utilized in two patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models of breast cancer representing luminal-like/ER+ (MAS98.06) and basal-like/triple-negative (MAS98.12) breast cancer and to explore the metabolic effects of CB-839 treatment. EXPERIMENTAL:MAS98.06 and MAS98.12 PDX mice received CB-839 (200?mg/kg) or drug vehicle two times daily p.o. for up to 28?days (n?=?5 per group), and the effect on tumor growth was evaluated. Expression of 60 genes and seven glutaminolysis key enzymes were determined using gene expression microarray analysis and immunohistochemistry (IHC), respectively, in untreated tumors. Uptake and conversion of glutamine were determined in the PDX models using HR MAS MRS after i.v. infusion of [5-13C] glutamine when the models had received CB-839 (200?mg/kg) or vehicle for 2 days (n?=?5 per group). RESULTS:Tumor growth measurements showed that CB-839 significantly inhibited tumor growth in MAS98.06 tumors, but not in MAS98.12 tumors. Gene expression and IHC analysis indicated a higher proline synthesis from glutamine in untreated MAS98.06 tumors. This was confirmed by HR MAS MRS of untreated tumors demonstrating that MAS98.06 used glutamine to produce proline, glutamate, and alanine, and MAS98.12 to produce glutamate and lactate. In both models, treatment with CB-839 resulted in accumulation of glutamine. In addition, CB-839 caused depletion of alanine, proline, and glutamate ([1-13C] glutamate) in the MAS98.06 model. CONCLUSION:Our findings indicate that TNBCs may not be universally sensitive to glutaminase inhibitors. The major difference in the metabolic fate of glutamine between responding MAS98.06 xenografts and non-responding MAS98.12 xenografts is the utilization of glutamine for production of proline. We therefore suggest that addiction to proline synthesis from glutamine is associated with response to CB-839 in breast cancer. The effect of glutaminase inhibition in two breast cancer patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models. 13C HR MAS MRS analysis of tumor tissue from CB-839-treated and untreated models receiving 13C-labeled glutamine ([5-13C] Gln) shows that the glutaminase inhibitor CB-839 is causing an accumulation of glutamine (arrow up) in two PDX models representing luminal-like breast cancer (MAS98.06) and basal-like breast cancer (MAS98.12). In MAS98.06 tumors, CB-839 is in addition causing depletion of proline ([5-13C] Pro), alanine ([1-13C] Ala), and glutamate ([1-13C] Glu), which could explain why CB-839 causes tumor growth inhibition in MAS98.06 tumors, but not in MAS98.12 tumors.
Project description:Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a blood cancer that is poorly responsive to conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy and a diagnosis of AML is usually fatal. More effective and better-tolerated therapies for AML are desperately needed. Activating mutations in FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) are one of the most frequently observed genetic defects in AML. FLT3 inhibitors have shown impressive anti-leukemic activity in clinical trials; however, sustained remissions using these inhibitors as monotherapy have not been achieved. Our previous studies have implicated impaired glutamine metabolism in response to FLT3 inhibitors as a dominant factor causing AML cell death. In this study, we have employed metabolic flux analysis to examine the effects of FLT3 inhibition on glutamine utilization in FLT3-mutated AML cells using stable isotope tracers. We found that the FLT3 inhibitor AC220 inhibited glutamine flux into the antioxidant factor glutathione profoundly due to defective glutamine import. We also found that the glutaminase inhibitor CB-839 similarly impaired glutathione production by effectively blocking flux of glutamine into glutamate. Moreover, the combination of AC220 with CB-839 synergized to deplete glutathione, induce mitochondrial reactive oxygen species, and cause loss of viability through apoptotic cell death. In vivo, glutaminase inhibition with CB-839 facilitated leukemic cell elimination by AC220 and improved survival significantly in a patient-derived xenograft AML mouse model. Therefore, targeting glutaminase in combination with FLT3 may represent an effective therapeutic strategy for improving treatment of FLT3-mutated AML.