High-Throughput Cell-Based Screening of 4910 Known Drugs and Drug-like Small Molecules Identifies Disulfiram as an Inhibitor of Prostate Cancer Cell Growth

Medical Biotechnology, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Turku, Finland.
Clinical Cancer Research (Impact Factor: 8.72). 10/2009; 15(19):6070-8. DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-09-1035
Source: PubMed


To identify novel therapeutic opportunities for patients with prostate cancer, we applied high-throughput screening to systematically explore most currently marketed drugs and drug-like molecules for their efficacy against a panel of prostate cancer cells.
We carried out a high-throughput cell-based screening with proliferation as a primary end-point using a library of 4,910 drug-like small molecule compounds in four prostate cancer (VCaP, LNCaP, DU 145, and PC-3) and two nonmalignant prostate epithelial cell lines (RWPE-1 and EP156T). The EC(50) values were determined for each cell type to identify cancer selective compounds. The in vivo effect of disulfiram (DSF) was studied in VCaP cell xenografts, and gene microarray and combinatorial studies with copper or zinc were done in vitro for mechanistic exploration.
Most of the effective compounds, including antineoplastic agents, were nonselective and found to inhibit both cancer and control cells in equal amounts. In contrast, histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A, thiram, DSF, and monensin were identified as selective antineoplastic agents that inhibited VCaP and LNCaP cell proliferation at nanomolar concentrations. DSF reduced tumor growth in vivo, induced metallothionein expression, and reduced DNA replication by downregulating MCM mRNA expression. The effect of DSF was potentiated by copper in vitro.
We identified three novel cancer-selective growth inhibitory compounds for human prostate cancer cells among marketed drugs. We then validated DSF as a potential prostate cancer therapeutic agent. These kinds of pharmacologically well-known molecules can be readily translated to in vivo preclinical studies and clinical trials.

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Available from: Pasi Halonen, May 08, 2014
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    • "A recent screen of more than 3,000 patients revealed that DSF can induce prostate cancer cell death. Furthermore, DSF shows mild side-effects and is well-tolerated in alcohol abuse therapy so makes it a new candidate for repurposing.[14] "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Pancreatic cancer has poor prognosis by surgical and chemotherapy when it is diagnosed, so other anti-cancerous assistant therapeutic drugs are suggested e.g. epigenetic reversal of tumor-suppressor genes on promoter hypermethylation. 5-Aza-CdR is a nucleoside analog of DNMTi but it has long-term cytotoxicity effects. This study compares the anticancer effect of 5-Aza-CdR and Disulfiram potencies on PANC-1 cell line and up-regulation of p21. Materials and Methods: PANC-1 cell line was cultured in DMEM high glucose and treated by 5-Aza-CdR with 5 and 10 μM concentration for four days and 13 μM DSF (Diulfiram) for 24 hours. MS-PCR and RT-PCR were carried out to detect the methylation pattern and estimate the mRNA expression of RASSF1A and p21 in PANC-1. Result: MS-PCR demonstrated partial unmethylation after treatment with 5-Aza-CdR while there was no unmethylated band after DSF treatment. RT-PCR showed significant differences between re-expression of RASSF1A before and after treatment with 10 μM 5-Aza-CdR (P < 0.01) but not after treatment with 13 μM DSF (P > 0.05). The significant correlation was observed between RASSF1A re-expression and p21 up-regulation before and after treatment with 10 μM 5-Aza-CdR (P < 0.01) but not after treatment with 13 μM DSF (P > 0.05), while p21 up-regulation was significantly higher after DSF treatment (P < 0.01). Conclusion: Our findings indicated that 5-Aza-CdR induces the re-expression of RASSF1A and p21 up-regulation in PANC-1. DSF showed no epigenetic reversion while it affected p21 up-regulation.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014
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    • "In vivo, DSF is rapidly converted to its reduced metabolite, DDTC (Escarabajal and Aragon, 2003; Pike et al., 2001), and if copper ions are available, DDTC–Cu(I) or –Cu(II) complex will be formed (Fig. 1). As other investigators described (Chen et al., 2006; Iljin et al., 2009), the activity of DSF to inhibit the cellular proteasome in vivo might be attributed to DDTC– Cu complexes. "
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    ABSTRACT: It is a therapeutic strategy for cancers including pancreatic to inhibit proteasome activity. Disulfiram (DSF) may bind copper (Cu) to form a DSF-Cu complex. DSF-Cu is capable of inducing apoptosis in cancer cells by inhibiting proteasome activity. DSF is rapidly converted to diethyldithiocarbamate (DDTC) within bodies. Copper(II) absorbed by bodies is reduced to copper(I) when it enters cells. We found that DDTC and copper(I) could form a binuclear complex which might be entitled DDTC-Cu(I), and it had been synthesized by us in the laboratory. This study is to investigate the anticaner potential of this complex on pancreatic cancer and the possible mechanism. Pancreatic cancer cell lines, SW1990, PANC-1 and BXPC-3 were used for in vitro assays. Female athymic nude mice grown SW1990 xenografts were used as animal models. Cell counting kit-8 (cck-8) assay and flow cytometry were used for analyzing apoptosis in cells. A 20S proteasome assay kit was used in proteasome activity analysis. Western blot (WB) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling(TUNEL) assays were used in tumor sample analysis. The results suggest that DDTC-Cu(I) inhibit pancreatic cancer cell proliferation and proteasome activity in vitro and in vivo. Accumulation of ubiquitined proteins, and increased p27 as well as decreased NF-κB expression were detected in tumor tissues of DDTC-Cu(I)-treated group. Our data indicates that DDTC-Cu(I) is an effective proteasome activity inhibitor with the potential to be explored as a drug for pancreatic cancer.
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    • "We have recently performed a chemical biology compound screen to systemically test the sensitivities of 4910 known drugs and drug-like small molecules in non-malignant and malignant prostate cancer cells [2]. Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) inhibitor disulfiram was among four cancer selective inhibitors identified blocking the growth of cultured TMPRSS2-ERG fusion positive VCaP cells at nanomolar concentration as well as reducing VCaP xenograft growth in vivo [2]. Recently, the growth inhibitory potential of disulfiram in prostate cancer has been confirmed in an independent high-throughput compound screen in vitro and xenograft studies in vivo [3], [4]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Current treatment options for castration- and treatment-resistant prostate cancer are limited and novel approaches are desperately needed. Our recent results from a systematic chemical biology sensitivity screen covering most known drugs and drug-like molecules indicated that aldehyde dehydrogenase inhibitor disulfiram is one of the most potent cancer-specific inhibitors of prostate cancer cell growth, including TMPRSS2-ERG fusion positive cancers. However, the results revealed that disulfiram alone does not block tumor growth in vivo nor induce apoptosis in vitro, indicating that combinatorial approaches may be required to enhance the anti-neoplastic effects.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · PLoS ONE
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