The transcription factor c-Myb is essential for the proliferation of hematopoietic cells and has been implicated in the development of leukemia and other human cancers. Pharmacologic inhibition of Myb is therefore emerging as a potential therapeutic strategy for these diseases. By using a Myb reporter cell line, we have identified plumbagin and several naphthoquinones as potent low-molecular weight Myb inhibitors. We demonstrate that these compounds inhibit c-Myb by binding to the c-Myb transactivation domain and disrupting the cooperation of c-Myb with the coactivator p300, a major driver of Myb activity. Naphthoquinone-induced inhibition of c-Myb suppresses Myb target gene expression and induces the differentiation of the myeloid leukemia cell line HL60. We demonstrate that murine and human primary acute myeloid leukemia cells are more sensitive to naphthoquinone-induced inhibition of clonogenic proliferation than normal hematopoietic progenitor cells. Overall, our work demonstrates for the first time the potential of naphthoquinones as small-molecule Myb inhibitors that may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of leukemia and other tumors driven by deregulated Myb. Mol Cancer Ther; 15(12); 2905-15. ©2016 AACR.
©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.