Differentiation-inducing factors 1-3 (DIFs 1-3), chlorinated alkylphenones identified in the cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum, are considered anti-tumor agents because they inhibit proliferation of a variety of mammalian tumor cells in vitro. Although the anti-proliferative effects of DIF-1 and DIF-3 are well-documented, the precise molecular mechanisms underlying the actions of DIFs have not been fully elucidated. In this study, we examined the effects of DIFs and their derivatives on PAK1, a key serine-threonine kinase, which is activated by multiple ligands and regulates cell proliferation. We examined the effect of DIF derivatives on PAK1 kinase activity in cells. We also examined the effect of DIF-3(+1) derivative on PAK1 kinase activity in vitro, cyclin D1 promoter activity and breast cancer cell proliferation. It was found that some derivatives strongly inhibited PAK1 kinase activity in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells stably over expressing PAK1. Among the derivatives, DIF-3(+1) was most potent, which directly inhibited kinase activity of recombinant purified PAK1 in an in vitro kinase assay. Furthermore, DIF-3(+1) strongly inhibited both cyclin D1 promoter activity and proliferation of MCF-7 and T47D breast cancer cells stably over expressing PAK1 in response to prolactin, estrogen, epidermal growth factor and heregulin. In the present study we propose PAK1 as DIF-3(+1) target mediating its anti-proliferative effect.
Keywords: Breast cancer; Cell proliferation; Cyclin D; Differentiation-inducing factor-3; PAK1 kinase.