Indoloquinoline-Mediated Targeted Downregulation of KRAS through Selective Stabilization of the Mid-Promoter G-Quadruplex Structure

Genes (Basel). 2022 Aug 13;13(8):1440. doi: 10.3390/genes13081440.


KRAS is a well-validated anti-cancer therapeutic target, whose transcriptional downregulation has been demonstrated to be lethal to tumor cells with aberrant KRAS signaling. G-quadruplexes (G4s) are non-canonical nucleic acid structures that mediate central dogmatic events, such as DNA repair, telomere elongation, transcription and splicing events. G4s are attractive drug targets, as they are more globular than B-DNA, enabling more selective gene interactions. Moreover, their genomic prevalence is increased in oncogenic promoters, their formation is increased in human cancers, and they can be modulated with small molecules or targeted nucleic acids. The putative formation of multiple G4s has been described in the literature, but compounds with selectivity among these structures have not yet been able to distinguish between the biological contribution of the predominant structures. Using cell free screening techniques, synthesis of novel indoloquinoline compounds and cellular models of KRAS-dependent cancer cells, we describe compounds that choose between KRAS promoter G4near and G4mid, correlate compound cytotoxic activity with KRAS regulation, and highlight G4mid as the lead molecular non-canonical structure for further targeting efforts.

Keywords: G-quadruplex; KRAS; indoloquinolines; pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Down-Regulation
  • G-Quadruplexes*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras) / genetics
  • Telomere


  • KRAS protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)

Grants and funding

This research was partially funded by the Department of Defense CDMRP Program, grant number CA130229.