The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism

Development of p21 activated kinase-targeted multikinase inhibitors that inhibit thyroid cancer cell migration.

PMID 23709653


The p21 activated kinases (PAKs) are a family of serine/threonine kinases that are downstream effectors of small GTPase Cdc42 and Rac. PAKs regulate cell motility, proliferation, and cytoskeletal rearrangement. PAK isoform expression and activity have been shown to be enhanced in cancer and to function as an oncogene in vivo. PAKs also have been implicated in cancer progression. In thyroid cancer, we have previously determined that PAK overactivation is common in the invasive fronts of aggressive tumors and that it is functionally involved in thyroid cancer cell motility using molecular inhibitors. We report the development of two new PAK-inhibiting compounds that were modified from the structure OSU-03012, a previously identified multikinase inhibitor that competitively blocks ATP binding of both phosphoinositide-dependent kinase 1 (PDK1) and PAK1. Seventeen compounds were created by combinatorial chemistry predicted to inhibit PAK activity with reduced anti-PDK1 effect. Two lead compounds were identified based on the ability to inhibit PAK1 activity in an ATP-competitive manner without discernible in vivo PDK1 inhibitory activity in thyroid cancer cell lines. Both compounds reduced thyroid cancer cell viability. Although they are not PAK-specific on a multikinase screening assay, the antimigration activity effect of the compounds in thyroid cancer cells was rescued by overexpression of a constitutively active PAK1, suggesting this activity is involved in this biological effect. We have developed 2 new multikinase inhibitors with anti-PAK activity that may serve as scaffolds for further compound development targeting this progression-related thyroid cancer target.