Pathania, Divya and Sechi, Mario and Palomba, Michele Francesco Luigi and Sanna, Vanna Annunziata and Berrettini, Francesco and Sias, Angela and Taheri, Laleh and Neamati, Nouri (2014) Design and discovery of novel quinazolinedione-based redox modulators as therapies for pancreatic cancer. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. General Subjects, Vol. 1840 (1), p. 332-343. ISSN 0304-4165. eISSN 1872-8006. Article.
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Background: Altered cellular bioenergetics and oxidative stress are emerging hallmarks of most cancers including pancreatic cancer. Elevated levels of intrinsic reactive oxygen species (ROS) in tumors make them more susceptible to exogenously induced oxidative stress. Excessive oxidative insults overwhelm their adaptive antioxidant capacity and trigger ROS-mediated cell death. Recently, we have discovered a novel class of quinazolinediones that exert their cytotoxic effects by modulating ROS-mediated signaling.
Methods: Cytotoxic potential was determined by colorimetric and colony formation assays. An XF24 Extracellular Flux Analyzer, and colorimetric and fluorescent techniques were used to assess the bioenergetics and oxidative stress effects, respectively. Mechanism was determined by Western blots.
Results: Compound 3a (6-[(2-acetylphenyl)amino]quinazoline-5,8-dione) was identified through a medium throughput screen of ~ 1000 highly diverse in-house compounds and chemotherapeutic agents for their ability to alter cellular bioenergetics. Further structural optimizations led to the discovery of a more potent analog, 3b (6-[(3-acetylphenyl)amino]quinazoline-5,8-dione) that displayed anti-proliferative activities in low micromolar range in both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant cancer cells. Treatment with 3b causes Akt activation resulting in increased cellular oxygen consumption and oxidative stress in pancreatic cancer cells. Moreover, oxidative stress induced by 3b promoted activation of stress kinases (p38/JNK) resulting in cancer cell death. Treatment with antioxidants was able to reduce cell death confirming ROS-mediated cytotoxicity.
Conclusion: In conclusion, our novel quinazolinediones are promising lead compounds that selectively induce ROS-mediated cell death in cancer cells and warrant further preclinical studies.
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