ABSTRACT: Disulfide bond-disrupting agents (DDAs) are a new chemical class of agents recently shown to have activity against breast tumors in animal models. Blockade of tumor growth is associated with downregulation of EGFR, HER2, and HER3 and reduced Akt phosphorylation, as well as the induction of endoplasmic reticulum stress. However, it is not known how DDAs trigger cancer cell death without affecting nontransformed cells. As demonstrated here, DDAs are the first compounds identified that upregulate the TRAIL receptor DR5 through transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms to activate the extrinsic cell death pathway. At the protein level, DDAs alter DR5 disulfide bonding to increase steady-state DR5 levels and oligomerization, leading to downstream caspase 8 and 3 activation. DDAs and TRAIL synergize to kill cancer cells and are cytotoxic to HER2+ cancer cells with acquired resistance to the EGFR/HER2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor Lapatinib. Investigation of the mechanisms responsible for DDA selectivity for cancer cells reveals that DDA-induced upregulation of DR5 is enhanced in the context of EGFR overexpression. DDA-induced cytotoxicity is strongly amplified by MYC overexpression. This is consistent with the known potentiation of TRAIL-mediated cell death by MYC. Together, the results demonstrate selective DDA lethality against oncogene-transformed cells, DDA-mediated DR5 upregulation, and protein stabilization, and that DDAs have activity against drug-resistant cancer cells. Our results indicate that DDAs are unique in causing DR5 accumulation and oligomerization and inducing downstream caspase activation and cancer cell death through mechanisms involving altered DR5 disulfide bonding. DDAs thus represent a new therapeutic approach to cancer therapy.
Project description:EGFR, HER2, and HER3 contribute to the initiation and progression of human cancers, and are therapeutic targets for monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors. An important source of resistance to these agents arises from functional redundancy among EGFR, HER2, and HER3. EGFR family members contain conserved extracellular structures that are stabilized by disulfide bonds. Compounds that disrupt extracellular disulfide bonds could inactivate EGFR, HER2, and HER3 in unison. Here we describe the identification of compounds that kill breast cancer cells that overexpress EGFR or HER2. Cell death parallels downregulation of EGFR, HER2, and HER3. These compounds disrupt disulfide bonds and are termed Disulfide Bond Disrupting Agents (DDAs). DDA RBF3 exhibits anticancer efficacy in vivo at 40 mg/kg without evidence of toxicity. DDAs may complement existing EGFR-, HER2-, and HER3-targeted agents that function through alternate mechanisms of action, and combination regimens with these existing drugs may overcome therapeutic resistance.
Project description:Many breast cancer deaths result from tumors acquiring resistance to available therapies. Thus, new therapeutic agents are needed for targeting drug-resistant breast cancers. Drug-refractory breast cancers include HER2+ tumors that have acquired resistance to HER2-targeted antibodies and kinase inhibitors, and "Triple-Negative" Breast Cancers (TNBCs) that lack the therapeutic targets Estrogen Receptor, Progesterone Receptor, and HER2. A significant fraction of TNBCs overexpress the HER2 family member Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR). Thus agents that selectively kill EGFR+ and HER2+ tumors would provide new options for breast cancer therapy. We previously identified a class of compounds we termed Disulfide bond Disrupting Agents (DDAs) that selectively kill EGFR+ and HER2+ breast cancer cells in vitro and blocked the growth of HER2+ breast tumors in an animal model. DDA-dependent cytotoxicity was found to correlate with downregulation of HER1-3 and Akt dephosphorylation. Here we demonstrate that DDAs activate the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) and that this plays a role in their ability to kill EGFR+ and HER2+ cancer cells. The use of breast cancer cell lines ectopically expressing EGFR or HER2 and pharmacological probes of UPR revealed all three DDA responses: HER1-3 downregulation, Akt dephosphorylation, and UPR activation, contribute to DDA-mediated cytotoxicity. Significantly, EGFR overexpression potentiates each of these responses. Combination studies with DDAs suggest that they may be complementary with EGFR/HER2-specific receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors and mTORC1 inhibitors to overcome drug resistance.
Project description:Lapatinib, a dual HER2/EGFR (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2/epidermal growth factor receptor) inhibitor, is a recently approved targeted therapy for metastatic breast cancer. Because lapatinib enhances the efficacy of the chemotherapeutic agent capecitabine in breast cancer patients, we tested whether lapatinib also enhances the activity of anticancer agents in colorectal cancer. We found that lapatinib improved the proapoptotic effects of tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) and two TRAIL receptor agonists, the antibodies mapatumumab and lexatumumab. Tumors from mice treated with a combination of lapatinib and TRAIL exhibited more immunostaining for cleaved caspase-8, a marker of the extrinsic cell death pathway, than did tumors from mice treated with lapatinib or TRAIL alone. Furthermore, combination therapy suppressed tumor growth more effectively than either agent alone. Lapatinib up-regulated the proapoptotic TRAIL death receptors DR4 and DR5, leading to more efficient induction of apoptosis in the presence of TRAIL receptor agonists. This activity of lapatinib was independent of EGFR and HER2. The off-target induction of DR5 by lapatinib resulted from activation of the c-Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK)/c-Jun signaling axis. This activity of lapatinib on TRAIL death receptor expression and signaling may confer therapeutic benefit when increased doses of lapatinib are used in combination with TRAIL receptor-activating agents.
Project description:Developing therapeutics that target multiple receptor signaling pathways in tumors is critical as therapies targeting single specific biomarker/pathway have shown limited efficacy in patients with cancer. In this study, we extensively characterized a bi-functional molecule comprising of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) targeted nanobody (ENb) and death receptor (DR) targeted ligand TRAIL (ENb-TRAIL). We show that ENb-TRAIL has therapeutic efficacy in tumor cells from different cancer types which do not respond to either EGFR antagonist or DR agonist monotherapies. Utilizing pharmacological inhibition, genetic loss of function and FRET studies, we show that ENb-TRAIL blocks EGFR signalling via the binding of ENb to EGFR which in turn induces DR5 clustering at the plasma membrane and thereby primes tumor cells to caspase-mediated apoptosis. In vivo, using a clinically relevant orthotopic resection model of primary glioblastoma and engineered stem cells (SC) expressing ENb-TRAIL, we show that the treatment with synthetic extracellular matrix (sECM) encapsulated SC-ENb-TRAIL alleviates tumor burden and significantly increases survival. This study is the first to report novel mechanistic insights into simultaneous targeting of receptor-mediated proliferation and cell death signaling pathways in different tumor types and presents a promising approach for translation into the clinical setting.
Project description:TRAIL (tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand) mediates apoptosis in cancer cells through death receptors DR4 and DR5 preferring often one receptor over another in the cells expressing both receptors. Receptor selective mutant variants of TRAIL and agonistic antibodies against DR4 and DR5 are highly promising anticancer agents. Here using DR5 specific mutant variant of TRAIL--DR5-B we have demonstrated for the first time that the sensitivity of cancer cells can be shifted from one TRAIL death receptor to another during co-treatment with anticancer drugs. First we have studied the contribution of DR4 and DR5 in HCT116 p53+/+ and HCT116 p53-/- cells and demonstrated that in HCT116 p53+/+ cells the both death receptors are involved in TRAIL-induced cell death while in HCT116 p53-/- cells prevailed DR4 signaling. The expression of death (DR4 and DR5) as well as decoy (DcR1 and DcR2) receptors was upregulated in the both cell lines either by TRAIL or by bortezomib. However, combined treatment of cells with two drugs induced strong time-dependent and p53-independent internalization and further lysosomal degradation of DR4 receptor. Interestingly DR5-B variant of TRAIL which do not bind with DR4 receptor also induced elimination of DR4 from cell surface in combination with bortezomib indicating the ligand-independent mechanism of the receptor internalization. Eliminatory internalization of DR4 resulted in activation of DR5 receptor thus DR4-dependent HCT116 p53-/- cells became highly sensitive to DR5-B in time-dependent manner. Internalization and degradation of DR4 receptor depended on activation of caspases as well as of lysosomal activity as it was completely inhibited by Z-VAD-FMK, E-64 and Baf-A1. In light of our findings, it is important to explore carefully which of the death receptors is active, when sensitizing drugs are combined with agonistic antibodies to the death receptors or receptor selective variants of TRAIL to enhance cancer treatment efficiency.
Project description:Death receptors of the TNF family are found on the surface of most cancer cells and their activation typically kills cancer cells through the stimulation of the extrinsic apoptotic pathway. The endogenous ligand for death receptors 4 and 5 (DR4 and DR5) is TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand, TRAIL (Apo2L). As most untransformed cells are not susceptible to TRAIL-induced apoptosis, death receptor activators have emerged as promising cancer therapeutic agents. One strategy to stimulate death receptors in cancer patients is to use soluble human recombinant TRAIL protein, but this agent has limitations of a short half-life and decoy receptor sequestration. Another strategy that attempted to evade decoy receptor sequestration and to provide improved pharmacokinetic properties was to generate DR4 or DR5 agonist antibodies. The resulting monoclonal agonist antibodies overcame the limitations of short half-life and avoided decoy receptor sequestration, but are limited by activating only one of the two death receptors. Here, we describe a DR4 and DR5 dual agonist produced using Surrobody technology that activates both DR4 and DR5 to induce apoptotic death of cancer cells in vitro and in vivo and also avoids decoy receptor sequestration. This fully human anti-DR4/DR5 Surrobody displays superior potency to DR4- and DR5-specific antibodies, even when combined with TRAIL-sensitizing proapoptotic agents. Moreover, cancer cells were less likely to acquire resistance to Surrobody than either anti-DR4 or anti-DR5 monospecific antibodies. Taken together, Surrobody shows promising preclinical proapoptotic activity against cancer cells, meriting further exploration of its potential as a novel cancer therapeutic agent.
Project description:Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is regarded as a promising candidate for anticancer therapy due to its selective toxicity to cancer cells. Nevertheless, because of TRAIL resistance in some cancer cells, combined treatment with sensitizing agents is required to enhance the anticancer potential of TRAIL. In this study, we investigated the underlying mechanism of apigenin-induced sensitization of HepG2 cells to TRAIL-induced cell death. Synergistic induction of apoptosis by combination was confirmed by examining the typical morphology changes of apoptosis, PARP-cleavage, and activation of effector caspases. Z-VAD-fmk, a pan-caspase inhibitor, inhibited the enhanced cell death by combined treatment of apigenin and TRAIL, demonstrating that a caspase-dependent pathway is involved in apigenin/TRAIL-mediated apoptosis. In addition, we found that apigenin/ TRAIL co-treatment up-regulates DR5 cell surface expression. The synergistic induction of cell death by the apigenin/ TRAIL combination was significantly attenuated by DR5 blocking chimera antibody. Next, using pharmacological inhibitors, we found that ERK activation is involved in the induction of DR5 expression. Inhibition of ERK1/2 by U0126 significantly decreased the apigenin/TRAIL-induced DR5 expression and apoptosis. Taken together, our results indicate that apigenin can enhance the apoptotic effect of TRAIL via ERK-induced up-regulation of DR5.
Project description:Although tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) has shown efficacy in a phase 2 clinical trial, development of resistance to TRAIL by tumor cells is a major roadblock. We investigated whether quercetin, a flavonoid, can sensitize human ovarian cancer cells to TRAIL. Results indicate that quercetin sensitized cancer cells to TRAIL. The quercetin induced expression of death receptor DR5 but did not affect expression of DR4 in cancer cells. The induction of DR5 was mediated through activation of JNK and through upregulation of a transcription factor CCAAT enhancer-binding protein homologous protein (CHOP); as silencing of these signaling molecules abrogated the effect of quercetin. Upregulation of DR5 was mediated through the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), as ROS scavengers reduced the effect of quercetin on JNK activation, CHOP upregulation, DR induction, TRAIL sensitization, downregulated the expression of cell survival proteins and upregulated the proapoptotic proteins. Furthermore, quercetin enhances TRAIL mediated inhibition of tumor growth of human SKOV-3 xenograft was associated with induction of apoptosis, activation of caspase-3, CHOP and DR5. Overall, our data suggest that quercetin enhances apoptotic death of ovarian cancer cells to TRAIL through upregulation of CHOP-induced DR5 expression following ROS mediated endoplasmic reticulum-stress.
Project description:Death receptors (DR4 and DR5) offer attractive targets for cancer treatment because cancer cell death can be induced by apoptotic signal upon binding of death ligands such as tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) with death receptors. Cyclometalated iridium(III) complexes such as fac-Ir(tpy)3 (tpy?=?2-(4-tolyl)pyridine) possess a C3-symmetric structure like TRAIL and exhibit excellent luminescence properties. Therefore, cyclometalated Ir complexes functionalized with DR-binding peptide motifs would be potent TRAIL mimics to detect cancer cells and induce their cell death. In this study, we report on the design and synthesis of C3-symmetric and luminescent Ir complex-peptide hybrids (IPHs), which possess cyclic peptide that had been reported to bind DR5. The results of 27?MHz quartz-crystal microbalance (QCM) measurements of DR5 with IPHs and costaining experiments of IPHs and anti-DR5 antibody, suggest that IPHs bind with DR5 and undergo internalization into cytoplasm, possibly via endocytosis. It was also found that IPHs induce slow cell death of these cancer cells in a parallel manner to the DR5 expression level. These results indicate that IPHs may offer a promising tool as artificial luminescent mimics of death ligands to develop a new category of anticancer agents that detect and kill cancer cells.
Project description:DR4 (Death Receptor 4) and DR5 (Death Receptor 5) are two potential targets for cancer therapy due to their ability to trigger apoptosis of cancer cells, but not normal ones, when activated by their cognate ligand TRAIL (TNF related apoptosis-inducing ligand). Therapies based on soluble recombinant TRAIL or agonist antibodies directed against one of the receptors are currently under clinical trials. However, TRAIL-R positive tumor cells are frequently resistant to TRAIL induced apoptosis. The precise mechanisms of this resistance are still not entirely understood. We have previously reported on synthetic peptides that bind to DR5 (TRAILmim/DR5) and induce tumor cell apoptosis in vitro and in vivo. Here, we showed that while hexameric soluble TRAIL is able to efficiently kill the DR5 positive lymphoma Jurkat or the carcinoma HCT116, these cells are resistant to apoptosis induced by the divalent form of TRAILmim/DR5 and are poorly sensitive to apoptosis induced by an anti-DR5 agonist monoclonal antibody. This resistance can be restored by the cross-linking of anti-DR5 agonist antibody but not by the cross-linking of the divalent form of TRAILmim/DR5. Interestingly, the divalent form of TRAILmim/DR5 that induced apoptosis of DR5 positive BJAB cells, acts as an inhibitor of TRAIL-induced apoptosis on Jurkat and HCT116 cells. The rapid internalization of DR5 observed when treated with divalent form of TRAILmim/DR5 could explain the antagonist activity of the ligand on Jurkat and HCT116 cells but also highlights the independence of the mechanisms responsible for internalization and activation when triggering the DR5 apoptotic cascade.