Small-Molecule Dual PLK1 and BRD4 Inhibitors are Active Against Preclinical Models of Pediatric Solid Tumors

Transl Oncol. 2020 Feb;13(2):221-232. doi: 10.1016/j.tranon.2019.09.013. Epub 2019 Dec 21.


Simultaneous inhibition of multiple molecular targets is an established strategy to improve the continuance of clinical response to therapy. Here, we screened 49 molecules with dual nanomolar inhibitory activity against BRD4 and PLK1, best classified as dual kinase-bromodomain inhibitors, in pediatric tumor cell lines for their antitumor activity. We identified two candidate dual kinase-bromodomain inhibitors with strong and tumor-specific activity against neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma tumor cells. Dual PLK1 and BRD4 inhibitor treatment suppressed proliferation and induced apoptosis in pediatric tumor cell lines at low nanomolar concentrations. This was associated with reduced MYCN-driven gene expression as assessed by RNA sequencing. Treatment of patient-derived xenografts with dual inhibitor UMB103 led to significant tumor regression. We demonstrate that concurrent inhibition of two central regulators of MYC protein family of protooncogenes, BRD4, and PLK1, with single small molecules has strong and specific antitumor effects in preclinical pediatric cancer models.