Computational design, chemical synthesis, and biological evaluation of a novel ERK inhibitor (BL-EI001) with apoptosis-inducing mechanisms in breast cancer.

PMID 25742792


Extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2 (ERK1/2) plays a crucial role in the resistance of apoptosis in carcinogenesis; however, its targeted small-molecule inhibitors still remain to be discovered. Thus, in this study, we computationally and experimentally screened a series of small-molecule inhibitors targeting ERK toward different types of human breast cancer cells. Subsequently, we synthesized some candidate ERK inhibitors, identified a novel ERK inhibitor (BL-EI001) with anti-proliferative activities, and analyzed the BL-EI001/ERK complex. Moreover, we found that BL-EI001 induced breast cancer cell apoptosis via mitochondrial pathway but independent on Ras/Raf/MEK pathway. In addition, we carried out proteomics analyses for exploring some possible BL-EI001-induced apoptotic pathways, and further found that BL-EI001-induced apoptosis affected ERK phosphorylation in breast cancer. Further, we found that BL-EI001 bear anti-tumor activities without remarkable toxicities, and also induced mitochondrial apoptosis by targeting ERK in vivo. Taken together, these results demonstrate that in silico design and experimental discovery of a synthesized small-molecule ERK inhibitor (BL-EI001)as a potential novel apoptosis-inducing drug in the treatment of breast cancer.