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Mol Cancer Ther. 2013 Nov;12(11):2400-14. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-13-0142. Epub 2013 Sep 18.

Isolation of a novel thioflavin S-derived compound that inhibits BAG-1-mediated protein interactions and targets BRAF inhibitor-resistant cell lines.

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Corresponding Author: Jakob Troppmair, Innsbruck Medical University, Innrain 66, Innsbruck 6020, Austria.


Protein-protein interactions mediated through the C-terminal Bcl-2-associated athanogene (BAG) domain of BAG-1 are critical for cell survival and proliferation. Thioflavin S (NSC71948)-a mixture of compounds resulting from the methylation and sulfonation of primulin base-has been shown to dose-dependently inhibit the interaction between BAG-1 and Hsc70 in vitro. In human breast cancer cell lines, with high BAG-1 expression levels, Thioflavin S reduces the binding of BAG-1 to Hsc70, Hsp70, or CRAF and decreases proliferation and viability. Here, we report the development of a protocol for the purification and isolation of biologically active constituents of Thioflavin S and the characterization of the novel compound Thio-2. Thio-2 blocked the growth of several transformed cell lines, but had much weaker effects on untransformed cells. Thio-2 also inhibited the proliferation of melanoma cell lines that had become resistant to treatment with PLX4032, an inhibitor of mutant BRAF. In transformed cells, Thio-2 interfered with intracellular signaling at the level of RAF, but had no effect on the activation of AKT. Thio-2 decreased binding of BAG-1 to Hsc70 and to a lesser extent BRAF in vitro and in vivo, suggesting a possible mechanism of action. Given that tumors frequently develop resistance to kinase inhibitors during treatment, Thio-2 and related compounds may offer promising alternative strategies to currently available therapies.

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