Transcription factors have traditionally been viewed with skepticism as viable drug targets, but they offer the potential for completely novel mechanisms of action that could more effectively address the stem cell like properties, such as self-renewal and chemo-resistance, that lead to the failure of traditional chemotherapy approaches. Core binding factor is a heterodimeric transcription factor comprised of one of 3 RUNX proteins (RUNX1-3) and a CBFβ binding partner. CBFβ enhances DNA binding of RUNX subunits by relieving auto-inhibition. Both RUNX1 and CBFβ are frequently mutated in human leukemia. More recently, RUNX proteins have been shown to be key players in epithelial cancers, suggesting the targeting of this pathway could have broad utility. In order to test this, we developed small molecules which bind to CBFβ and inhibit its binding to RUNX. Treatment with these inhibitors reduces binding of RUNX1 to target genes, alters the expression of RUNX1 target genes, and impacts cell survival and differentiation. These inhibitors show efficacy against leukemia cells as well as basal-like (triple-negative) breast cancer cells. These inhibitors provide effective tools to probe the utility of targeting RUNX transcription factor function in other cancers.
Small molecule inhibitors of CBFβ-RUNX protein-protein interaction developed.
Inhibitors alter occupancy of RUNX1 on target genes and alter their expression.
Inhibitors show efficacy against leukemia cell lines and basal-like (triple negative) breast cancer cell lines.
Transcription factors are proteins that bind to DNA and regulate how much of other proteins are made. We describe the development of inhibitors of the interaction between two transcription factors, CBFβ and RUNX. Both these transcription factors are the targets of alterations in human leukemia as well as in a number of solid tumors. The inhibitor changes the behavior of the RUNX transcription factor and alters the levels of proteins it regulates. We show these inhibitors may have potential utility for leukemia as well as one specific type of breast cancer which has a very poor prognosis.