Choline kinase inhibitors as a novel approach for antiproliferative drug design

Oncogene. 1997 Nov 6;15(19):2289-301. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1201414.


Recent progress in deciphering the molecular basis of carcinogenesis is of utmost importance to the development of new anticancer strategies. To this end, it is essential to understand the regulation of both normal cell proliferation and its alterations in cancer cells. We have previously demonstrated that in ras-transformed cells there is an increased level of phosphorylcholine (PCho) resulting from a constitutive activation on choiline kinase (ChoK). The importance of ChoK for the regulation of cell proliferation has also been proposed since an inhibitor for this enzyme, hemicholinium-3 (HC-3), drastically reduces entry into the S phase after stimulation with growth factors. Here we report the synthesis of several new compounds which are highly specific inhibitors for ChoK, with up to 1000-fold or 600-fold increased inhibitory activity, compared to HC-3 under ex vivo or in vitro conditions respectively. These novel compounds also drastically reduce entry into the S phase after stimulation with specific growth factors. A more profound inhibition of cell proliferation was observed in ras-, src- and mos-transformed cells in the presence of ChoK inhibitors, compared to their parental, untransformed NIH3T3 cells. By contrast, this effect was not observed in fos-transformed cells. While ras, src and mos transformation is associated with elevated levels of ChoK activity, fos-induced transformation does not affect ChoK activity. The inhibitory effect on proliferation of the new compounds correlates with their ability to inhibit the production of phosphorylcholine in whole cells, a proposed novel second messenger for cell proliferation. These results strongly support a critical role of choline kinase in the regulation of cell growth and makes this enzyme a novel target for the design of new antiproliferative and anticancer drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Choline Kinase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • Drug Design*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Hemicholinium 3 / analogs & derivatives*
  • Hemicholinium 3 / chemistry
  • Mice
  • Oncogenes
  • Phosphorylcholine / metabolism
  • S Phase / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Phosphorylcholine
  • Hemicholinium 3
  • DNA
  • Choline Kinase