Aim: C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP) is a transcription factor that is activated at multiple levels during ER stress and plays an important role in ER stress-induced apoptosis. In this study we identified a novel CHOP activator, and further investigated its potential to be a therapeutic agent for human lung cancer.
Methods: HEK293-CHOP-luc reporter cells were used in high-throughput screening (HTS) to identify CHOP activators. The cytotoxicity against cancer cells in vitro was measured with MTT assay. The anticancer effects were further examined in A549 human non-small cell lung cancer xenograft mice. The mechanisms underlying CHOP activation were analyzed using luciferase assays, and the anticancer mechanisms were elucidated in A549 cells.
Results: From chemical libraries of 50 000 compounds, LGH00168 was identified as a CHOP activator, which showed cytotoxic activities against a panel of 9 cancer cell lines with an average IC50 value of 3.26 μmol/L. Moreover, administration of LGH00168 significantly suppressed tumor growth in A549 xenograft bearing mice. LGH00168 activated CHOP promoter via AARE1 and AP1 elements, increased DR5 expression, decreased Bcl-2 expression, and inhibited the NF-κB pathway. Treatment of A549 cells with LGH00168 (10 μmol/L) did not induce apoptosis, but lead to RIP1-dependent necroptosis, accompanied by cell swelling, plasma membrane rupture, lysosomal membrane permeabilization, MMP collapse and caspase 8 inhibition. Furthermore, LGH00168 (10 and 20 μmol/L) dose-dependently induced mito-ROS production in A549 cells, which was reversed by the ROS scavenger N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC, 10 mmol/L). Moreover, NAC significantly diminished LGH00168-induced CHOP activation, NF-κB inhibition and necroptosis in A549 cells.
Conclusion: LGH00168 is a CHOP activator that inhibits A549 cell growth in vitro and lung tumor growth in vivo.