Molecular pharmacology

Pharmacologic Inhibition of MNKs in Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

PMID 26044548


The Ras/Raf/MAPK and PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathways are key signaling cascades involved in the regulation of cell proliferation and survival, and have been implicated in the pathogenesis of several types of cancers, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The oncogenic activity of eIF4E driven by the Mnk kinases is a convergent determinant of the two cascades, suggesting that targeting the Mnk/eIF4E axis may provide therapeutic opportunity for the treatment of cancer. Herein, a potent and selective Mnk2 inhibitor (MNKI-85) and a dual-specific Mnk1 and Mnk2 inhibitor (MNKI-19), both derived from a thienopyrimidinyl chemotype, were selected to explore their antileukemic properties. MNKI-19 and MNKI-85 are effective in inhibiting the growth of AML cells that possess an M5 subtype with FLT3-internal tandem duplication mutation. Further mechanistic studies show that the downstream effects with respect to the selective Mnk1/2 kinase inhibition in AML cells causes G1 cell cycle arrest followed by induction of apoptosis. MNKI-19 and MNKI-85 demonstrate similar Mnk2 kinase activity and cellular antiproliferative activity but exhibit different time-dependent effects on cell cycle progression and apoptosis. Collectively, this study shows that pharmacologic inhibition of both Mnk1 and Mnk2 can result in a more pronounced cellular response than targeting Mnk2 alone. However, MNKI-85, a first-in-class inhibitor of Mnk2, can be used as a powerful pharmacologic tool in studying the Mnk2/eIF4E-mediated tumorigenic mechanism. In conclusion, this study provides a better understanding of the mechanism underlying the inhibition of AML cell growth by Mnk inhibitors and suggests their potential utility as a therapeutic agent for AML.