Pseurotin A as a novel suppressor of hormone dependent breast cancer progression and recurrence by inhibiting PCSK9 secretion and interaction with LDL receptor

Pharmacol Res. 2020 Aug;158:104847. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2020.104847. Epub 2020 May 11.


Hypercholesterolemia has been documented to drive hormone-dependent breast cancer (BC) progression and resistance to hormonal therapy. Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type-9 (PCSK9) regulates cholesterol metabolism through binding to LDL receptor (LDLR) and targeting the receptor for lysosomal degradation. Inhibition of PCSK9 is an established strategy to treat hypercholesterolemia. Pseurotin A (PS) is a unique spiro-heterocyclic γ-lactam alkaloid isolated from the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus. Preliminary studies indicated that PS lowered PCSK9 secretion in cultured HepG2 hepatocellular carcinoma cells, with an IC50 value of 1.20 μM. Docking studies suggested the ability of PS to bind at the PCSK9 narrow interface pocket that accommodates LDLR. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) showed PS ability to inhibit the PCSK9-LDLR interaction at a concentration range of 10-150 μM. PS showed in vitro dose-dependent reduction of PCSK9, along with increased LDLR levels in hormone-dependent BT-474 and T47D breast cancer (BC) cell lines. In vivo, daily oral 10 mg/kg PS suppressed the progression of the hormone-dependent BT-474 BC cells in orthotopic nude mouse xenograft model. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) investigation of BT-474 breast tumor tissue proved the PS ability to reduce PCSK9 expression. PS also effectively suppressed BT-474 BC cells locoregional recurrence after primary tumor surgical excision. Western blot analysis showed decreased PCSK9 expression in liver tissues of PS-treated mice compared to vehicle-treated control group. PS treatment significantly reduced PCSK9 expression and normalized LDLR levels in collected primary and recurrent breast tumors at the study end. PS-treated mice showed reduced plasma cholesterol and 17β-estradiol levels. Inhibition of tumor recurrence was associated with significant reductions in plasma level of the human BC recurrence marker CA 15-3 in treated mice at the study end. Histopathological examination of various PS-treated mice organs indicated lack of metastatic tumor cells and any pathological changes. The results of this study provide the first evidence for the suppression of the hormone-dependent breast tumor progression and recurrence by targeting the PCSK9-LDLR axis. PS is a novel first-in-class PCSK9-targeting lead appropriate for the use to control hormone-dependent BC progression and recurrence.

Keywords: 17β-estradiol; Breast cancer; CA 15-3; Hypercholesterolemia; LDLR; PCSK9; Pseurotin A; Pseurotin A (PubChem CID: 9845622); Recurrence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / pharmacology*
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Disease Progression
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Female
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Molecular Structure
  • Proprotein Convertase 9 / drug effects
  • Proprotein Convertase 9 / metabolism*
  • Pyrrolidinones / pharmacology*
  • Pyrrolidinones / therapeutic use
  • Receptors, LDL / drug effects*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Pyrrolidinones
  • Receptors, LDL
  • Estradiol
  • pseurotin
  • Cholesterol
  • PCSK9 protein, human
  • Proprotein Convertase 9