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Discovery of a Small-Molecule Bromodomain-Containing Protein 4 (BRD4) Inhibitor That Induces AMP-Activated Protein Kinase-Modulated Autophagy-Associated Cell Death in Breast Cancer

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posted on 27.11.2017, 00:00 by Liang Ouyang, Lan Zhang, Jie Liu, Leilei Fu, Dahong Yao, Yuqian Zhao, Shouyue Zhang, Guan Wang, Gu He, Bo Liu
Upon the basis of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) data set, we identified that several autophagy-related proteins such as AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) were remarkably downregulated in breast cancer. Combined with coimmuno­precipitation assay, we demonstrated that BRD4 might interact with AMPK. After analyses of the pharmacophore and WPF interaction optimization, we designed a small-molecule inhibitor of BRD4, 9f (FL-411) which was validated by cocrystal structure with BD1 of BRD4. Subsequently, 9f was discovered to induce ATG5-dependent autophagy-associated cell death (ACD) by blocking BRD4-AMPK interaction and thus activating AMPK-mTOR-ULK1-modulated autophagic pathway in breast cancer cells. Interestingly, the iTRAQ-based proteomics analyses revealed that 9f induced ACD pathways involved in HMGB1, VDAC1/2, and eEF2. Moreover, 9f displayed a therapeutic potential on both breast cancer xenograft mouse and zebrafish models. Together, these results demonstrate that a novel small-molecule inhibitor of BRD4 induces BRD4-AMPK-modulated ACD in breast cancer, which may provide a candidate drug for future cancer therapy.