Tumor tissues are chronically exposed to hypoxia owing to aberrant vascularity. Lipid droplet (LD) accumulation is a hallmark of hypoxic cancer cells, yet how LDs form and function during hypoxia remains poorly understood. Herein, we report that in various cancer cells upon oxygen deprivation, HIF-1 activation down-modulates LD catabolism mediated by adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL), the key enzyme for intracellular lipolysis. Proteomics and functional analyses identified hypoxia-inducible gene 2 (HIG2), a HIF-1 target, as a new inhibitor of ATGL. Knockout of HIG2 enhanced LD breakdown and fatty acid (FA) oxidation, leading to increased ROS production and apoptosis in hypoxic cancer cells as well as impaired growth of tumor xenografts. All of these effects were reversed by co-ablation of ATGL. Thus, by inhibiting ATGL, HIG2 acts downstream of HIF-1 to sequester FAs in LDs away from the mitochondrial pathways for oxidation and ROS generation, thereby sustaining cancer cell survival in hypoxia.
- Jun Liu
- Jun Liu
The funder had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: This study used male athymic nude mice purchased from Taconic Biosciences. All of the animal experimental procedures were approved by the Mayo Clinic Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. (IACUC Protocol A00001813-16).
- Ralph DeBerardinis, UT Southwestern Medical Center, United States
© 2017, Zhang et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
The transcription factor TEAD, together with its coactivator YAP/TAZ, is a key transcriptional modulator of the Hippo pathway. Activation of TEAD transcription by YAP has been implicated in a number of malignancies, and this complex represents a promising target for drug discovery. However, both YAP and its extensive binding interfaces to TEAD have been difficult to address using small molecules, mainly due to a lack of druggable pockets. TEAD is post-translationally modified by palmitoylation that targets a conserved cysteine at a central pocket, which provides an opportunity to develop cysteine-directed covalent small molecules for TEAD inhibition. Here, we employed covalent fragment screening approach followed by structure-based design to develop an irreversible TEAD inhibitor MYF-03–69. Using a range of in vitro and cell-based assays we demonstrated that through a covalent binding with TEAD palmitate pocket, MYF-03–69 disrupts YAP-TEAD association, suppresses TEAD transcriptional activity and inhibits cell growth of Hippo signaling defective malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). Further, a cell viability screening with a panel of 903 cancer cell lines indicated a high correlation between TEAD-YAP dependency and the sensitivity to MYF-03–69. Transcription profiling identified the upregulation of proapoptotic BMF gene in cancer cells that are sensitive to TEAD inhibition. Further optimization of MYF-03–69 led to an in vivo compatible compound MYF-03–176, which shows strong antitumor efficacy in MPM mouse xenograft model via oral administration. Taken together, we disclosed a story of the development of covalent TEAD inhibitors and its high therapeutic potential for clinic treatment for the cancers that are driven by TEAD-YAP alteration.
The TEA domain (TEAD) transcription factor forms a transcription co-activation complex with the key downstream effector of the Hippo pathway, YAP/TAZ. TEAD-YAP controls the expression of Hippo-responsive genes involved in cell proliferation, development, and tumorigenesis. Hyperactivation of TEAD-YAP activities is observed in many human cancers and is associated with cancer cell proliferation, survival, and immune evasion. Therefore, targeting the TEAD-YAP complex has emerged as an attractive therapeutic approach. We previously reported that the mammalian TEAD transcription factors (TEAD1–4) possess auto-palmitoylation activities and contain an evolutionarily conserved palmitate-binding pocket (PBP), which allows small-molecule modulation. Since then, several reversible and irreversible inhibitors have been reported by binding to PBP. Here, we report a new class of TEAD inhibitors with a novel binding mode. Representative analog TM2 shows potent inhibition of TEAD auto-palmitoylation both in vitro and in cells. Surprisingly, the co-crystal structure of the human TEAD2 YAP-binding domain (YBD) in complex with TM2 reveals that TM2 adopts an unexpected binding mode by occupying not only the hydrophobic PBP, but also a new side binding pocket formed by hydrophilic residues. RNA-seq analysis shows that TM2 potently and specifically suppresses TEAD-YAP transcriptional activities. Consistently, TM2 exhibits strong antiproliferation effects as a single agent or in combination with a MEK inhibitor in YAP-dependent cancer cells. These findings establish TM2 as a promising small-molecule inhibitor against TEAD-YAP activities and provide new insights for designing novel TEAD inhibitors with enhanced selectivity and potency.