A G-quadruplex-binding compound showing anti-tumour activity in an in vivo model for pancreatic cancer
We report here that a tetra-substituted naphthalene-diimide derivative (MM41) has significant in vivo anti-tumour activity against the MIA PaCa-2 pancreatic cancer xenograft model. IV administration with a twice-weekly 15 mg/kg dose produces ca 80% tumour growth decrease in a group of tumourbearing animals. Two animals survived tumour-free after 279 days. High levels of MM41 are rapidly transported into cell nuclei and were found to accumulate in the tumour. MM41 is a quadruplexinteractive compound which binds strongly to the quadruplexes encoded in the promoter sequences of the BCL-2 and k-RAS genes, both of which are dis-regulated in many human pancreatic cancers. Levels of BCL-2 were reduced by ca 40% in tumours from MM41-treated animals relative to controls, consistent with BCL-2 being a target for MM41. Molecular modelling suggests that MM41 binds to a BCL-2 quadruplex in a manner resembling that previously observed in co-crystal structures with human telomeric quadruplexes. This supports the concept that MM41 (and by implication other quadruplex-targeting small molecules) can bind to quadruplex-forming promoter regions in a number of genes and down-regulate their transcription. We suggest that quadruplexes within those master genes that are up-regulated drivers for particular cancers, may be selective targets for compounds such as MM41.