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PLoS One. 2014 Dec 5;9(12):e114260. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114260. eCollection 2014.

A small molecule inhibitor of ETV1, YK-4-279, prevents prostate cancer growth and metastasis in a mouse xenograft model.

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Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC, United States of America.
The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States of America.



The erythroblastosis virus E26 transforming sequences (ETS) family of transcription factors consists of a highly conserved group of genes that play important roles in cellular proliferation, differentiation, migration and invasion. Chromosomal translocations fusing ETS factors to promoters of androgen responsive genes have been found in prostate cancers, including the most clinically aggressive forms. ERG and ETV1 are the most commonly translocated ETS proteins. Over-expression of these proteins in prostate cancer cells results in a more invasive phenotype. Inhibition of ETS activity by small molecule inhibitors may provide a novel method for the treatment of prostate cancer.


We recently demonstrated that the small molecule YK-4-279 inhibits biological activity of ETV1 in fusion-positive prostate cancer cells leading to decreased motility and invasion in-vitro. Here, we present data from an in-vivo mouse xenograft model. SCID-beige mice were subcutaneously implanted with fusion-positive LNCaP-luc-M6 and fusion-negative PC-3M-luc-C6 tumors. Animals were treated with YK-4-279, and its effects on primary tumor growth and lung metastasis were evaluated. YK-4-279 treatment resulted in decreased growth of the primary tumor only in LNCaP-luc-M6 cohort. When primary tumors were grown to comparable sizes, YK-4-279 inhibited tumor metastasis to the lungs. Expression of ETV1 target genes MMP7, FKBP10 and GLYATL2 were reduced in YK-4-279 treated animals. ETS fusion-negative PC-3M-luc-C6 xenografts were unresponsive to the compound. Furthermore, YK-4-279 is a chiral molecule that exists as a racemic mixture of R and S enantiomers. We established that (S)-YK-4-279 is the active enantiomer in prostate cancer cells.


Our results demonstrate that YK-4-279 is a potent inhibitor of ETV1 and inhibits both the primary tumor growth and metastasis of fusion positive prostate cancer xenografts. Therefore, YK-4-279 or similar compounds may be evaluated as a potential therapeutic tool for treatment of human prostate cancer at different stages.

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