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Biochem Pharmacol. 2013 May 1;85(9):1234-45. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2013.01.032. Epub 2013 Feb 18.

Discovery of a new small-molecule inhibitor of p53-MDM2 interaction using a yeast-based approach.

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REQUIMTE, Laboratório de Microbiologia, Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Faculdade de Farmácia, Universidade do Porto, Rua de Jorge Viterbo Ferreira n.° 164, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal.


The virtual screening of a library of xanthone derivatives led us to the identification of potential novel MDM2 ligands. The activity of these compounds as inhibitors of p53-MDM2 interaction was investigated using a yeast phenotypic assay, herein developed for the initial screening. Using this approach, in association with a yeast p53 transactivation assay, the pyranoxanthone (3,4-dihydro-12-hydroxy-2,2-dimethyl-2H,6H-pyrano[3,2-b]xanthen-6-one) (1) was identified as a putative small-molecule inhibitor of p53-MDM2 interaction. The activity of the pyranoxanthone 1 as inhibitor of p53-MDM2 interaction was further investigated in human tumor cells with wild-type p53 and overexpressed MDM2. Notably, the pyranoxanthone 1 mimicked the activity of known p53 activators, leading to p53 stabilization and activation of p53-dependent transcriptional activity. Additionally, it led to increased protein levels of p21 and Bax, and to caspase-7 cleavage. By computational docking studies, it was predicted that, like nutlin-3a, a known small-molecule inhibitor of p53-MDM2 interaction, pyranoxanthone 1 binds to the p53-binding site of MDM2. Overall, in this work, a novel small-molecule inhibitor of p53-MDM2 interaction with a xanthone scaffold was identified for the first time. Besides its potential use as molecular probe and possible lead to develop anticancer agents, the pyranoxanthone 1 will pave the way for the structure-based design of a new class of p53-MDM2 inhibitors.

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