Cancer sensitizing effect of deazaflavin analogs is associated with increased intracellular drug accumulation

Zakia Belhadj, Samuel Offei, Blake A. Jacobson, Daniel Cambron, Robert A. Kratzke, Zhengqiang Wang, Jiashu Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As part of our efforts geared towards developing mechanism-based cancer sensitizing agents, we have previously synthesized and characterized novel deazaflavin analogs as potent tyrosyl DNA phosphodiesterase 2 (TDP2) inhibitors for combination treatments with topoisomerase II (TOP2) poisons. Interestingly, the sensitizing effect of a few analogs toward TOP2 poison etoposide (ETP) was associated with a significant increase in intracellular drug accumulation, which could be an alternative mechanism to boost the clinical efficacy of ETP in cancer chemotherapies. Hence, we evaluated more deazaflavin TDP2 inhibitors for their impact on drug retention in cancer cells. We found that all but one tested TDP2 inhibitors substantially increased the ETP retention in DT40 cells. Particularly, we identified an exceptionally potent analog, ZW-1226, which at 3 nM increased the intracellular ETP by 13-fold. Significantly, ZW-1226 also stimulated cellular accumulation of two other anticancer drugs, TOP2 poison teniposide and antifolate pemetrexed, and produced an effect more pronounced than those of ABC transporter inhibitors verapamil and elacridar in human leukemic CCRF-CEM cells toward ETP. Lastly, ZW-1226 potentiated the action of ETP in the sensitive human CCRF-CEM cells and a few resistant non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells, including H460 and H838 cells. Collectively, the results of this study strongly suggest that deazaflavin analog ZW-1226 could be an effective cancer sensitizing agent which warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106686
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s)


  • Cancer
  • Deazaflavin
  • Drug accumulation
  • Etoposide
  • Sensitization
  • Tyrosyl-DNA phosphodiesterase

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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