A novel screening approach comparing kinase activity of small molecule inhibitors with similar molecular structures and distinct biologic effects in triple-negative breast cancer to identify targetable signaling pathways

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Anti-Cancer Drugs


Breast cancer affects women globally; the majority of breast cancer-related mortalities are due to metastasis. Acquisition of a mesenchymal phenotype has been implicated in the progression of breast cancer cells to an invasive, metastatic state. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) subtypes have high rates of metastases, recurrence, and have poorer prognoses compared to other breast cancer types, partially due to lack of commonly targeted receptors. Kinases have diverse and pivotal functions in metastasis in TNBC, and discovery of new kinase targets for TNBC is warranted. We previously used a screening approach to identify intermediate-synthesis nonpotent, nonselective small-molecule inhibitors from the Published Kinase Inhibitor Set that reversed the mesenchymal phenotype in TNBC cells. Two of these inhibitors (GSK346294A and GSK448459A) are structurally similar, but have unique kinase activity profiles and exhibited differential biologic effects on TNBC cells, specifically on epithelial-To-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Here, we further interrogate these effects and compare activity of these inhibitors on transwell migration, gene (qRT-PCR) and protein (western blot) expressions, and cancer stem cell-like behavior. We incorporated translational patient-derived xenograft models in these studies, and we focused on the lead inhibitor hit, GSK346294A, to demonstrate the utility of our comparative analysis as a screening modality to identify novel kinase targets and signaling pathways to pursue in TNBC. This study introduces a new method for discovering novel kinase targets that reverse the EMT phenotype; this screening approach can be applied to all cancer types and is not limited to breast cancer.

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