Use of proteasome inhibitors in anticancer therapy

Sara M. Schmitt, Lillian Lu, Q. Ping Dou

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7175/rhc.v2i4.60

Abstract

The importance of the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway to cellular function has brought it to the forefront in the search for new anticancer therapies. The ubiquitin-proteasome pathway has proven promising in targeting various human cancers. The approval of the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib for clinical treatment of relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma has validated the ubiquitin-proteasome as a rational target. Bortezomib has shown positive results in clinical use but some toxicity and side effects, as well as resistance, have been observed, indicating that further development of novel, less toxic drugs is necessary. Because less toxic drugs are necessary and drug development can be expensive and time-consuming, using existing drugs that can target the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway in new applications, such as cancer therapy, may be effective in expediting the regulatory process and bringing new drugs to the clinic. Toward this goal, previously approved drugs, such as disulfiram, as well as natural compounds found in common foods, such as green tea polyphenol (-)-EGCG and the flavonoid apigenin, have been investigated for their possible proteasome inhibitory and cell death inducing abilities. These compounds proved quite promising in preclinical studies and have now moved into clinical trials, with preliminary results that are encouraging. In addition to targeting the catalytic activity of the proteasome pathway, upstream regulators, such as the 19S regulatory cap, as well as E1, E2, and E3, are now being investigated as potential drug targets. This review outlines the development of novel proteasome inhibitors from preclinical to clinical studies, highlighting their abilities to inhibit the tumor proteasome and induce apoptosis in several human cancers.

Keywords

Ubiquitin-proteasome pathway; Bortezomib; Anticancer therapy; Disulfiram; Natural compounds

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