Metastasis management remains a long-standing challenge. High abundance of E2F1 triggers tumor progression by developing protein-protein interactions (PPI) with coregulators that enhance its potential to activate a network of prometastatic transcriptional targets. Methods: To identify E2F1-coregulators, we integrated high-throughput Co-immunoprecipitation (IP)/mass spectometry, GST-pull-down assays, and structure modeling. Potential inhibitors of PPI discovered were found by bioinformatics-based pharmacophore modeling, and transcriptome profiling was conducted to screen for coregulated downstream targets. Expression and target gene regulation was validated using qRT-PCR, immunoblotting, chromatin IP, and luciferase assays. Finally, the impact of the E2F1-coregulator complex and its inhibiting drug on metastasis was investigated in vitro in different cancer entities and two mouse metastasis models. Results: We unveiled that E2F1 forms coactivator complexes with metastasis-associated protein 1 (MTA1) which, in turn, is directly upregulated by E2F1. The E2F1:MTA1 complex potentiates hyaluronan synthase 2 (HAS2) expression, increases hyaluronan production and promotes cell motility. Disruption of this prometastatic E2F1:MTA1 interaction reduces hyaluronan synthesis and infiltration of tumor-associated macrophages in the tumor microenvironment, thereby suppressing metastasis. We further demonstrate that E2F1:MTA1 assembly is abrogated by small-molecule, FDA-approved drugs. Treatment of E2F1/MTA1-positive, highly aggressive, circulating melanoma cells and orthotopic pancreatic tumors with argatroban prevents metastasis and cancer relapses in vivo through perturbation of the E2F1:MTA1/HAS2 axis. Conclusion: Our results propose argatroban as an innovative, E2F-coregulator-based, antimetastatic drug. Cancer patients with the infaust E2F1/MTA1/HAS2 signature will likely benefit from drug repositioning.
Keywords: E2F1-coregulator; MTA1; drug repositioning; metastasis; pharmacophore modeling.