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Chem Biol. 2012 Apr 20;19(4):518-28. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2012.03.007.

Identification and characterization of small molecule antagonists of pRb inactivation by viral oncoproteins.

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Program in Gene Expression and Regulation, The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The retinoblastoma protein pRb is essential for regulating many cellular activities through its binding and inhibition of E2F transcription activators, and pRb inactivation leads to many cancers. pRb activity can be perturbed by viral oncoproteins including human papillomavirus (HPV) that share an LxCxE motif. Because there are no treatments for existing HPV infection leading to nearly all cervical cancers and other cancers to a lesser extent, we screened for compounds that inhibit the ability of HPV-E7 to disrupt pRb/E2F complexes. This lead to the identification of thiadiazolidinedione compounds that bind to pRb with mid-high nanomolar dissociation constants, are competitive with the binding of viral oncoproteins containing an LxCxE motif, and are selectively cytotoxic in HPV-positive cells alone and in mice. These inhibitors provide a promising scaffold for the development of therapies to treat HPV-mediated pathologies.

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