Discovery of a chemical compound that suppresses expression of BEX2, a dormant cancer stem cell-related protein

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2021 Jan 22;537:132-139. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2020.11.022. Epub 2021 Jan 4.


Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are believed to cause cancer metastasis and recurrence. BEX2 (brain expressed X-linked gene 2) is a CSC-related gene that is expressed in dormant CSCs in cholangiocarcinoma and induces resistance against chemotherapy. The aim of the present study was to identify small compounds that have activity to inhibit BEX2 expression and result in the attenuation of CSC-related phenotypes. We screened 9600 small chemical compounds in high-throughput screening using cholangiocarcinoma cell line HuCCT1 expressing BEX2 protein fused with NanoLuc, and identified a compound, BMPP (1, 3-Benzenediol, [4-(4-methoxyphenyl)-1H-pyrazol-3-yl]). BMPP was found to exert decreasing effects on BEX2 protein expression and G0 phase population of the tumor cells, and increasing effects on ATP levels and chemotherapeutic sensitivity of the cells. These findings indicate that BMPP is a valuable chemical compound for reducing dormant CSC-related phenotypes. Thus, the identification of BMPP as a potential CSC suppressor provides scope for the development of novel therapeutic modalities for the treatment of cancers with BEX2 overexpressing CSCs.

Keywords: BEX2; Cholangiocarcinoma; Dormant cancer stem cell; Hepatocellular carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / analysis*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Discovery*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Humans
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • BEX2 protein, human
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins