Mechanism of action of the third generation benzopyrans and evaluation of their broad anticancer activity in vitro and in vivo

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Stevenson, Alexander J
Ager, Eleanor I
Proctor, Martina A
Skalamera, Dubravka
Heaton, Andrew
Brown, David
Gabrielli, Brian G
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Successive rounds of chemical modification in three generations of benzopyran molecules have shown to select for different mechanisms of actions and progressive increases in anti-cancer activity. In this study, we investigated the mechanism of action of the third-generation benzopyran compounds, TRX-E-002-1 and TRX-E-009-1. High-content screening of a panel of 240 cancer cell lines treated with TRX-E-009-1 demonstrated it has broad anti-cancer potential. Within this screen, melanoma cell lines showed a range of sensitivities and subsequently a second independent panel of 21 melanoma 3D spheroid lines were assessed for their responses to both TRX-E-002-1 and TRX-E-009-1 compounds. Time-lapse microscopy illustrated both of these compounds caused mitotic delays in treated cells, resulting in either mitotic slippage or apoptosis. This finding along with immunostaining, in vitro polymerization assays, and animal experiments in both athymic and immunocompetent mice, demonstrates that these third-generation benzopyran compounds are potent tubulin polymerization inhibitors in vitro and in vivo, and this is the molecular basis of their anti-cancer activity in melanoma. These findings indicate these BP compounds may offer a novel anti-microtubule strategy for cancer intervention and provides the basis for further investigation into biomarkers of clinical sensitivity.

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