A small-molecule ligand of valosin-containing protein/p97 inhibits cancer cell-accelerated fibroblast migration

J Biol Chem. 2019 Mar 1;294(9):2988-2996. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.004741. Epub 2019 Jan 4.


Carcinoma-associated fibroblasts are fibroblasts activated by surrounding cancer cells. Carcinoma-associated fibroblasts exhibit enhanced cell migration, which plays an important role in cancer metastasis. Previously, we demonstrated enhanced migration of NIH3T3 fibroblasts when they were cultured in the presence of MCF7 breast cancer cells. Human fibroblasts displayed a similar phenomenon even when they were co-cultured with cancer cells other than MCF7 cells. In this study, we screened ∼16,000 compounds from the RIKEN Natural Products Depository chemical library for inhibitors of enhanced NIH3T3 cell migration in the presence of MCF7. We identified NPD8733 as an inhibitor of cancer cell-enhanced fibroblast migration. This inhibition was observed not only in a wound-healing co-culture assay but also in a Transwell migration assay. Using NPD8733 and a structurally similar but inactive derivative, NPD8126, on immobilized beads, we found that NPD8733, but not NPD8126, specifically binds to valosin-containing protein (VCP)/p97, a member of the ATPase-associated with diverse cellular activities (AAA+) protein family. Using VCP truncation variants, we found that NPD8733 binds to the D1 domain of VCP. Because VCP's D1 domain is important for its function, we concluded that NPD8733 may act on VCP by binding to this domain. siRNA-mediated silencing of VCP in NIH3T3 fibroblasts, but not in MCF7 cells, reduced the migration of the co-cultured NIH3T3 fibroblasts. These results indicate that MCF7 activates the migration of NIH3T3 cells through VCP and that NPD8733 binds VCP and thereby inhibits its activity.

Keywords: cancer; cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF); cell migration; chemical biology; extracellular matrix; p97; small molecule; tumor metastasis; tumor microenvironment; valosin-containing protein (VCP).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / drug effects*
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Fibroblasts / cytology*
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Mice
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Protein Domains
  • Small Molecule Libraries / metabolism*
  • Small Molecule Libraries / pharmacology*
  • Valosin Containing Protein / chemistry
  • Valosin Containing Protein / metabolism*


  • Ligands
  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • Valosin Containing Protein