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Biochem J. 2015 May 1;467(3):425-38. doi: 10.1042/BJ20131571.

Small-molecule inhibitors of ERK-mediated immediate early gene expression and proliferation of melanoma cells expressing mutated BRaf.

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1
*Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD 21201, U.S.A.

Abstract

Constitutive activation of the extracellular-signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) are central to regulating the proliferation and survival of many cancer cells. The current inhibitors of ERK1/2 target ATP binding or the catalytic site and are therefore limited in their utility for elucidating the complex biological roles of ERK1/2 through its phosphorylation and regulation of over 100 substrate proteins. To overcome this limitation, a combination of computational and experimental methods was used to identify low-molecular-mass inhibitors that are intended to target ERK1/2 substrate-docking domains and selectively interfere with ERK1/2 regulation of substrate proteins. In the present study, we report the identification and characterization of compounds with a thienyl benzenesulfonate scaffold that were designed to inhibit ERK1/2 substrates containing an F-site or DEF (docking site for ERK, FXF) motif. Experimental evidence shows the compounds inhibit the expression of F-site containing immediate early genes (IEGs) of the Fos family, including c-Fos and Fra1, and transcriptional regulation of the activator protein-1 (AP-1) complex. Moreover, this class of compounds selectively induces apoptosis in melanoma cells containing mutated BRaf and constitutively active ERK1/2 signalling, including melanoma cells that are inherently resistant to clinically relevant kinase inhibitors. These findings represent the identification and initial characterization of a novel class of compounds that inhibit ERK1/2 signalling functions and their potential utility for elucidating ERK1/2 and other signalling events that control the growth and survival of cancer cells containing elevated ERK1/2 activity.

PMID:
25695333
PMCID:
PMC4643458
DOI:
10.1042/BJ20131571
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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