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Cancer Res. 2012 May 1;72(9):2394-404. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-3115. Epub 2012 Mar 21.

Dithiolethiones inhibit NF-κB activity via covalent modification in human estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer.

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Radiation Biology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


The NF-κB transcription factor family influences breast cancer outcomes by regulating genes involved in tumor progression, angiogenesis, and metastasis. Dithiolethiones, a class of naturally occurring compounds with cancer chemoprevention effects that have become clinically available, have been found to inhibit NF-κB activity. However, the mechanism of this inhibition has not been identified, and the influence of dithiolethines on NF-κB pathway in breast cancer cells has not been examined. Here, we investigated the chemical and biochemical effects of dithiolethione on NF-κB and downstream effector molecules in estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer cells and murine tumor xenografts. The dithiolethiones ACS-1 and ACS-2 inhibited NF-κB transcriptional activity. Interestingly, this inhibition was not due to H(2)S release or protein phosphatase 2A activation, which are key properties of dithiolethiones, but occurred via a covalent reaction with the NF-κB p50 and p65 subunits to inhibit DNA binding. Dithiolethione-mediated inhibition of NF-κB-regulated genes resulted in the inhibition of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, urokinase-type plasminogen activator, and VEGF production. ACS-1 also inhibited matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity, cellular migration, and invasion, and ACS-2 reduced tumor burden and resulted in increased tumor host interactions. Together, our findings suggest that dithiolethiones show potential clinical use for estrogen negative breast cancer as a chemotherapeutic or adjuvant therapy.

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