Castration-resistant prostate cancers (CRPCs) lose sensitivity to androgen-deprivation therapies but frequently remain dependent on oncogenic transcription driven by the androgen receptor (AR) and its splice variants. To discover modulators of AR-variant activity, we used a lysate-based small-molecule microarray assay and identified KI-ARv-03 as an AR-variant complex binder that reduces AR-driven transcription and proliferation in prostate cancer cells. We deduced KI-ARv-03 to be a potent, selective inhibitor of CDK9, an important cofactor for AR, MYC, and other oncogenic transcription factors. Further optimization resulted in KB-0742, an orally bioavailable, selective CDK9 inhibitor with potent anti-tumor activity in CRPC models. In 22Rv1 cells, KB-0742 rapidly downregulates nascent transcription, preferentially depleting short half-life transcripts and AR-driven oncogenic programs. In vivo, oral administration of KB-0742 significantly reduced tumor growth in CRPC, supporting CDK9 inhibition as a promising therapeutic strategy to target AR dependence in CRPC.
Keywords: androgen receptor; cyclin-dependent kinase 9; interactome modulators; prostate cancer; small molecule microarray; transcription factors.
Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.