Molecular cancer therapeutics

Antitumor effects of a novel small molecule targeting PCNA chromatin association in prostate cancer.

PMID 25253786


Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) plays an essential role in DNA replication and repair. Tumor cells express high levels of PCNA, identifying it as a potentially ideal target for cancer therapy. Previously, we identified nine compounds termed PCNA inhibitors (PCNA-Is) that bind directly to PCNA, stabilize PCNA trimer structure, reduce chromatin-associated PCNA, and selectively inhibit tumor cell growth. Of these compounds, PCNA-I1 is most potent. The purposes of this study were to further investigate the effects of targeting PCNA chromatin association on DNA damage and cytotoxicity and to evaluate the therapeutic potential of PCNA-I1 against tumors in mice. Given the important roles of tumor suppressor p53 in regulating sensitivity of tumor cells to chemotherapeutics, we performed studies in two human prostate cancer cell lines differing in p53 expression: LNCaP cells (wild-type p53) and PC-3 cells (p53-null). PCNA-I1 induced DNA damage and apoptosis in both LNCaP and PC-3 cells and enhanced DNA damage and apoptosis triggered by cisplatin. PCNA-I1 also induced autophagy in PC-3 cells. A short-term pretreatment with PCNA-I1 reduced colony formation by 50% in both cell lines. These data suggest that, unlike many other cytotoxic drugs, the effects of PCNA-I1 on tumor cells do not depend on expression of p53. Intravenous administrations of PCNA-I1 significantly retarded growth of LNCaP tumors of in nude mice without causing detectable effects on mouse body weight and hematology profiles. These data provide proof of concept that targeting PCNA chromatin association could be a novel and effective therapeutic approach for treatment of cancer.