Identification and Characterization of an Inhibitor of Eukaryotic Elongation Factor 2 Kinase Against Human Cancer Cell Lines

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Cancer Research

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Recent evidence suggests that the machinery of protein synthesis may provide novel targets for anticancer drugs. For example, aberrations in protein synthesis are commonly encountered in established cancers, and disruption by mutation or overexpression of translation factors can cause cellular transformation. We previously demonstrated that the activity of eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF-2) kinase was markedly increased in several forms of malignancy and that nonspecific inhibitors of this enzyme promoted cell death. On the basis of the predicted amino acid sequence of eEF-2 kinase deduced from the cloned cDNA, we hypothesized that inhibitors of prokaryotic histidine kinases might also inhibit the activity of eEF-2 kinase. We describe herein the screening of a series of imidazolium histidine kinase inhibitors and the identification of an active lead compound, NH125. NH125 inhibited eEF-2 kinase activity (IC(50) = 60 nM) in vitro, blocked the phosphorylation of eEF-2 in intact cells, and showed relative selectivity over other protein kinases: protein kinase C (IC(50) = 7.5 microM), protein kinase A (IC(50) = 80 microM), and calmodulin-dependent kinase II (IC(50) > 100 microM). NH125 decreased the viability of 10 cancer cell lines with IC(50)s ranging from 0.7 to 4.7 microM. Forced overexpression of eEF-2 kinase in a glioma cell line produced 10-fold resistance to NH125. In conclusion, these results suggest that identification of potent inhibitors of eEF-2 kinase may lead to the development of new types of anticancer drugs.


This article was originally published as Arora S., Yang, J.M., Kinzy, T.G., Utsumi, R., Okamoto, T., Kitayama, T., Ortiz, P.A., Hait, W.N. (2003) Identification and characterization of an inhibitor of eukaryotic Elongation Factor 2 kinase against human cancer cell lines, Cancer Res., 63: 6894-6899. PMID: 14583488