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, 131, 21-58

Small-Molecule Targeting of BET Proteins in Cancer


Small-Molecule Targeting of BET Proteins in Cancer

C A French. Adv Cancer Res.


BET proteins have recently become recognized for their role in a broad range of cancers and are defined by the presence of two acetyl-histone reading bromodomains and an ET domain. This family of proteins includes BRD2, BRD3, BRD4, and BRDT. BRD4 is the most-studied BET protein in cancer, and normally serves as an epigenetic reader that links active chromatin marks to transcriptional elongation through activation of RNA polymerase II. The role of BRD3 and BRD4 first became known in cancer as mutant oncoproteins fused to the p300-recruiting NUT protein in a rare aggressive subtype of squamous cell cancer known as NUT midline carcinoma (NMC). BET inhibitors are acetyl-histone mimetics that specifically bind BET bromodomains, competitively inhibiting its engagement with chromatin. The antineoplastic effects of BET inhibitors were first demonstrated in NMC and have since been shown to be effective at inhibiting the growth of many different cancers, particularly acute leukemia. BET inhibitors have also been instrumental as tool compounds that have demonstrated the key role of BRD4 in driving NMC and non-NMC cancer growth. Many clinical trials enrolling patients with hematologic and solid tumors are ongoing, with encouraging preliminary findings. BET proteins BRD2, BRD3, and BRD4 are expressed in nearly all cells of the body, so there are concerns of toxicity with BET inhibitors, as well as the development of resistance. Toxicity and resistance may be overcome by combining BET inhibitors with other targeted inhibitors, or through the use of novel BET inhibitor derivatives.

Keywords: BET inhibitor; BRD2; BRD3; BRD4; BRD4–NUT; BRDT; Bromodomain; Cancer; Chromatin; Epigenetic; NUT midline carcinoma.

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