RK-287107, a potent and specific tankyrase inhibitor, blocks colorectal cancer cell growth in a preclinical model

Cancer Sci. 2018 Dec;109(12):4003-4014. doi: 10.1111/cas.13805. Epub 2018 Oct 20.


Aberrant activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling causes tumorigenesis and promotes the proliferation of colorectal cancer cells. Porcupine inhibitors, which block secretion of Wnt ligands, may have only limited clinical impact for the treatment of colorectal cancer, because most colorectal cancer is caused by loss-of-function mutations of the tumor suppressor adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) downstream of Wnt ligands. Tankyrase poly(ADP-ribosyl)ates (PARylates) Axin, a negative regulator of β-catenin. This post-translational modification causes ubiquitin-dependent degradation of Axin, resulting in β-catenin accumulation. Tankyrase inhibitors downregulate β-catenin and suppress the growth of APC-mutated colorectal cancer cells. Herein, we report a novel tankyrase-specific inhibitor RK-287107, which inhibits tankyrase-1 and -2 four- and eight-fold more potently, respectively, than G007-LK, a tankyrase inhibitor that has been previously reported as effective in mouse xenograft models. RK-287107 causes Axin2 accumulation and downregulates β-catenin, T-cell factor/lymphoid enhancer factor reporter activity and the target gene expression in colorectal cancer cells harboring the shortly truncated APC mutations. Consistently, RK-287107 inhibits the growth of APC-mutated (β-catenin-dependent) colorectal cancer COLO-320DM and SW403 cells but not the APC-wild (β-catenin-independent) colorectal cancer RKO cells. Intraperitoneal or oral administration of RK-287107 suppresses COLO-320DM tumor growth in NOD-SCID mice. Rates of tumor growth inhibition showed good correlation with the behavior of pharmacodynamic biomarkers, such as Axin2 accumulation and MYC downregulation. These observations indicate that RK-287107 exerts a proof-of-concept antitumor effect, and thus may have potential for tankyrase-directed molecular cancer therapy.

Keywords: Wnt/β-catenin signaling; colorectal cancer; mouse xenograft model; poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase; tankyrase inhibitor.

MeSH terms

  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli Protein / genetics*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / administration & dosage*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • HCT116 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Tankyrases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • APC protein, human
  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli Protein
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • TNKS2 protein, human
  • Tankyrases
  • TNKS protein, human