Small molecules inhibit STAT3 activation, autophagy, and cancer cell anchorage-independent growth

Donghui Zhou, Maya Z. Springer, David Xu, Degang Liu, Andy Hudmon, Kay F. Macleod, Samy O. Meroueh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) lack the signature targets of other breast tumors, such as HER2, estrogen receptor, and progesterone receptor. These aggressive basal-like tumors are driven by a complex array of signaling pathways that are activated by multiple driver mutations. Here we report the discovery of 6 (KIN-281), a small molecule that inhibits multiple kinases including maternal leucine zipper kinase (MELK) and the non-receptor tyrosine kinase bone marrow X-linked (BMX) with single-digit micromolar IC50s. Several derivatives of 6 were synthesized to gain insight into the binding mode of the compound to the ATP binding pocket. Compound 6 was tested for its effect on anchorage-dependent and independent growth of MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cells. The effect of 6 on BMX prompted us to evaluate its effect on STAT3 phosphorylation and DNA binding. The compound's inhibition of cell growth led to measurements of survivin, Bcl-XL, p21WAF1/CIP1, and cyclin A2 levels. Finally, LC3B-II levels were quantified following treatment of cells with 6 to determine whether the compound affected autophagy, a process that is known to be activated by STAT3. Compound 6 provides a starting point for the development of small molecules with polypharmacology that can suppress TNBC growth and metastasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2995-3005
Number of pages11
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry

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