UNC569, a novel small-molecule mer inhibitor with efficacy against acute lymphoblastic leukemia in vitro and in vivo

Sandra Christoph, Deborah DeRyckere, Jennifer Schlegel, J. Kimble Frazer, Lance A. Batchelor, Alesia Y. Trakhimets, Susan Sather, Debra M. Hunter, Christopher T. Cummings, Jing Liu, Chao Yang, Dmitri Kireev, Catherine Simpson, Jacqueline Norris-Drouin, Emily A. Hull-Ryde, William P. Janzen, Gary L. Johnson, Xiaodong Wang, Stephen V. Frye, H. Shelton EarpDouglas K. Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations

Abstract

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common malignancy in children. Although survival rates have improved, patients with certain biologic subtypes still have suboptimal outcomes. Current chemotherapeutic regimens are associated with short- and long-term toxicities and novel, less toxic therapeutic strategies are needed. Mer receptor tyrosine kinase is ectopically expressed in ALL patient samples and cell lines. Inhibition of Mer expression reduces prosurvival signaling, increases chemosensitivity, and delays development of leukemia in vivo, suggesting that Mer tyrosine kinase inhibitors are excellent candidates for targeted therapies. Brain and spinal tumors are the second most common malignancies in childhood. Multiple chemotherapy approaches and radiotherapies have been attempted, yet overall survival remains dismal. Mer is also abnormally expressed in atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors (AT/RT), providing a rationale for targeting Mer as a therapeutic strategy. We have previously described UNC569, the first small-molecule Mer inhibitor. This article describes the biochemical and biologic effects of UNC569 in ALL and AT/RT. UNC569 inhibited Mer activation and downstream signaling through ERK1/2 and AKT, determined by Western blot analysis. Treatment with UNC569 reduced proliferation/survival in liquid culture, decreased colony formation in methylcellulose/soft agar, and increased sensitivity to cytotoxic chemotherapies. MYC transgenic zebrafish with T-ALL were treated with UNC569 (4 μmol/L for two weeks). Fluorescence was quantified as indicator of the distribution of lymphoblasts, which express Mer and enhanced GFP. UNC569 induced more than 50% reduction in tumor burden compared with vehicle- and mock-treated fish. These data support further development of Mer inhibitors as effective therapies in ALL and AT/RT. Mol Cancer Ther; 12(11); 2367-77.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2367-2377
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Volume12
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

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