Oncogenic activation of the ETS-related gene (ERG) by recurrent gene fusions (predominantly TMPRSS2-ERG) is one of themost validated and prevalent genomic alterations present in early stages of prostate cancer. In this study, we screened small-molecule libraries for inhibition of ERG protein in TMPRSS2-ERG harboring VCaP prostate cancer cells using an In-Cell Western Assay with the highly specific ERG-MAb (9FY). Among a subset of promising candidates, 1-[2-Thiazolylazo]-2- naphthol (NSC139021, hereafter ERGi-USU) was identified and further characterized. ERGi-USU selectively inhibited growth of ERG-positive cancer cell lines with minimal effect on normal prostate or endothelial cells or ERG-negative tumor cell lines. Combination of ERGi-USU with enzalutamide showed additive effects in inhibiting growth of VCaP cells. A screen of kinases revealed that ERGi-USU directly bound the ribosomal biogenesis regulator atypical kinase RIOK2 and induced ribosomal stress signature. In vivo, ERGi-USU treatment inhibited growth of ERG-positive VCaP tumor xenografts with no apparent toxicity. Structure-activity-based derivatives of ERGi-USU recapitulated the ERG-selective activity of the parental compound. Taken together, ERGi-USU acts as a highly selective inhibitor for the growth of ERG-positive cancer cells and has potential for further development of ERG-targeted therapy of prostate cancer and other malignancies. Significance: A highly selective small-molecule inhibitor of ERG, a critical driver of early stages of prostate cancer, will be imperative for prostate cancer therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research