Identification and characterization of the first small molecule inhibitor of MDMX

J Biol Chem. 2010 Apr 2;285(14):10786-96. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.056747. Epub 2010 Jan 15.


The p53 pathway is disrupted in virtually every human tumor. In approximately 50% of human cancers, the p53 gene is mutated, and in the remaining cancers, the pathway is dysregulated by genetic lesions in other genes that modulate the p53 pathway. One common mechanism for inactivation of the p53 pathway in tumors that express wild-type p53 is increased expression of MDM2 or MDMX. MDM2 and MDMX bind p53 and inhibit its function by distinct nonredundant mechanisms. Small molecule inhibitors and small peptides have been developed that bind MDM2 in the p53-binding pocket and displace the p53 protein, leading to p53-mediated cell cycle exit and apoptosis. To date, peptide inhibitors of MDMX have been developed, but no small molecule inhibitors have been reported. We have developed biochemical and cell-based assays for high throughput screening of chemical libraries to identify MDMX inhibitors and identified the first MDMX inhibitor SJ-172550. This compound binds reversibly to MDMX and effectively kills retinoblastoma cells in which the expression of MDMX is amplified. The effect of SJ-172550 is additive when combined with an MDM2 inhibitor. Results from a series of biochemical and structural modeling studies suggest that SJ-172550 binds the p53-binding pocket of MDMX, thereby displacing p53. This lead compound is a useful chemical scaffold for further optimization of MDMX inhibitors that may eventually be used to treat pediatric cancers and various adult tumors that overexpress MDMX or have similar genetic lesions. When combined with selective MDM2 inhibitors, SJ-172550 may also be useful for treating tumors that express wild-type p53.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Computer Simulation
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-mdm2 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-mdm2 / metabolism*
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology*
  • Retinoblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Retinoblastoma / metabolism
  • Retinoblastoma / pathology*
  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism


  • Acetates
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Pyrazoles
  • SJ 172550
  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-mdm2