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APTO-253 stabilizes G-quadruplex DNA, inhibits MYC expression and induces DNA damage in acute myeloid leukemia cells


APTO-253 is a phase I clinical stage small molecule that selectively induces CDKN1A (p21), promotes G0-G1 cell-cycle arrest, and triggers apoptosis in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells without producing myelosuppression in various animal species and humans. Differential gene expression analysis identified a pharmacodynamic effect on MYC expression, as well as induction of DNA repair and stress response pathways. APTO-253 was found to elicit a concentration- and time-dependent reduction in MYC mRNA expression and protein levels. Gene ontogeny and structural informatic analyses suggested a mechanism involving G-quadruplex (G4) stabilization. Intracellular pharmacokinetic studies in AML cells revealed that APTO-253 is converted intracellularly from a monomer to a ferrous complex [Fe(253)3]. FRET assays demonstrated that both monomeric APTO-253 and Fe(253)3 stabilize G4 structures from telomeres, MYC, and KIT promoters but do not bind to non-G4 double-stranded DNA. Although APTO-253 exerts a host of mechanistic sequelae, the effect of APTO-253 on MYC expression and its downstream target genes, on cell-cycle arrest, DNA damage, and stress responses can be explained by the action of Fe(253)3 and APTO-253 on G-quadruplex DNA motifs. Mol Cancer Ther; 17(6); 1177-86. ©2018 AACR.

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