Benserazide, a dopadecarboxylase inhibitor, suppresses tumor growth by targeting hexokinase 2

Li W, Zheng M, Wu S, Gao S, Yang M, Li Z, Min Q, Sun W, Chen L, Xiang G, Li H

Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research
2017 vol: 36 (1) pp: 58

Abstract

Background
Hexokinase (HK) is the rate-limiting enzyme in the first reaction of glycolysis. And Hexokinase 2 (HK2) is most closely related to malignant tumor which expresses at higher level compared with normal cells. HK2 plays a pivotal role in tumor initiation and maintenance, which provides a new target for cancer therapy.

Methods
Structure-based virtual ligand screening was used in hit identification from ZINC Drug Database. Microscale thermophoresis assay was performed to evaluate the binding affinity. Enzyme inhibition, cytotoxicity, apoptosis, intracellular ATP level, mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), glucose uptake and lactate production experiments were undertaken in SW480 cells to identify Benz as a HK2 inhibitor. Western blot was used to test protein expression. SW480 cells xenograft mouse models were used for in vivo study. Nano-particles of Benz were prepared to improve the antitumor efficacy and tumor targeting of Benz. HPLC was used to measure the concentration of free Benz in tumor tissues.

Results
Benserazide (Benz), was identified as a selective HK2 inhibitor, could specifically bind to HK2 and significantly inhibit HK2 enzymatic activity in vitro. In addition, Benz reduced glucose uptake, lactate production and intracellular ATP level, and could cause cell apoptosis and an increased loss of MMP as well. In vivo study indicated that intraperitoneal (ip) injection of Benz at 300 and 600 mg/Kg suppressed cancer growth in tumor-bearing mice and no toxicity shown. To further improve the antitumor efficacy and tumor targeting of Benz, nano-particles of Benz was prepared. Liposomal Benz at 100 and 200 mg/Kg performed potent inhibitory effects on tumor-bearing mice, showing reduced dose and better efficacy.

Conclusions
Our study provides a new direction for the development of Benz and its analogues as novel antitumor agents for cancer therapy.

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