Targeting the HuR oncogenic role with a new class of cytoplasmic dimerization inhibitors

Academic Article


  • The development of novel therapeutics that exploit alterations in the activation state of key cellular signaling pathways due to mutations in upstream regulators has generated the field of personalized medicine. These first-generation efforts have focused on actionable mutations identified by deep sequencing of large numbers of tumor samples. We propose that a second-generation opportunity exists by exploiting key downstream "nodes of control"that contribute to oncogenesis and are inappropriately activated due to loss of upstream regulation and microenvironmental influences. The RNA-binding protein HuR represents such a node. Because HuR functionality in cancer cells is dependent on HuR dimerization and its nuclear/cytoplasmic shuttling, we developed a new class of molecules targeting HuR protein dimerization. A structure-activity relationship algorithm enabled development of inhibitors of HuR multimer formation that were soluble, had micromolar activity, and penetrated the blood-brain barrier. These inhibitors were evaluated for activity validation and specificity in a robust cell-based assay of HuR dimerization. SRI-42127, a molecule that met these criteria, inhibited HuR multimer formation across primary patient-derived glioblastoma xenolines (PDGx), leading to arrest of proliferation, induction of apoptosis, and inhibition of colony formation. SRI- 42127 had favorable attributes with central nervous system penetration and inhibited tumor growth in mouse models. RNA and protein analysis of SRI-42127-treated PDGx xenolines across glioblastoma molecular subtypes confirmed attenuation of targets upregulated by HuR. These results highlight how focusing on key attributes of HuR that contribute to cancer progression, namely cytoplasmic localization and multimerization, has led to the development of a novel, highly effective inhibitor.
  • Published In

  • Cancer Research  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Filippova N; Yang X; Ananthan S; Calano J; Pathak V; Bratton L; Vekariya RH; Zhang S; Ofori E; Hayward EN
  • Start Page

  • 2220
  • End Page

  • 2233
  • Volume

  • 81
  • Issue

  • 8