The mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1 and 2 signaling pathway is a major component of the RAS (Rat sarcoma)/RAF (Radpidly accelerated fibrosarcoma)/MEK (mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase)/ERKs (Extracellular signal-regulated kinases) signaling axis that regulates tumorigenesis and cancer cell growth. MEK is frequently activated in various cancers that have mutations in the KRAS and BRAF oncogenes. Therefore, MEK has been suggested as a therapeutic target for inhibitor development against tumors that are dependent on the activating mutations in mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling. Herein, we report the discovery of three novel MEK inhibitors, herein referred to as CInQ-01, CInQ-03 and CInQ-06. All three inhibitors were highly effective in suppressing MEK1 and MEK2 in vitro kinase activity as well as anchorage-dependent and anchorage-independent cell growth. The inhibitory activity was associated with markedly reduced phosphorylation of ERKs and ribosomal S6 kinases. Furthermore, administration of CInQ-03 inhibited colon cancer cell growth in an in vivo xenograft mouse model and showed no skin toxicity. Overall, these results suggest that these novel MEK inhibitors might be used for chemotherapy or prevention.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The Hormel Foundation and National Institutes of Health grants CA120388, CA027502, R37CA081064 and ES016548 and the Korea Research Council of Fundamental Science and Technology (KRCF) Research Fellowship for Young Scientists.