UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Benzothiophenone Derivatives Targeting Mutant Forms of Estrogen Receptor-α in Hormone-Resistant Breast Cancers Singh, Kriti; Munuganti, Ravi S. N.; Lallous, Nada; Dalal, Kush; Yoon, Ji Soo; Sharma, Aishwariya; Yamazaki, Takeshi; Cherkasov, Artem; Rennie, Paul S.


Estrogen receptor-α positive (ERα+) breast cancers represent 75% of all invasive breast cancer cases, while de novo or acquired resistance to ER-directed therapy is also on the rise. Numerous factors contribute to this phenomenon including the recently-reported ESR1 gene mutations such as Y537S, which amplifies co-activator interactions with ERα and promotes constitutive activation of ERα function. Herein, we propose that direct targeting of the activation function-2 (AF2) site on ERα represents a promising alternative therapeutic strategy to overcome mutation-driven resistance in breast cancer. A systematic computer-guided drug discovery approach was employed to develop a potent ERα inhibitor that was extensively evaluated by a series of experiments to confirm its AF2-specific activity. We demonstrate that the developed small-molecule inhibitor effectively prevents ERα-coactivator interactions and exhibits a strong anti-proliferative effect against tamoxifen-resistant cells, as well as downregulates ERα-dependent genes and effectively diminishes the receptor binding to chromatin. Notably, the identified lead compound successfully inhibits known constitutively-active, resistance-associated mutant forms of ERα observed in clinical settings. Overall, this study reports the development of a novel class of ERα AF2 inhibitors, which have the potential to effectively inhibit ERα activity by a unique mechanism and to circumvent the issue of mutation-driven resistance in breast cancer.

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