Small-molecule inhibition of APE1

Apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1 (APE1) plays a critical role in the base excision repair (BER) pathway, which is responsible for the excision of apurinic sites (AP sites). In non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), APE1 is highly expressed and associated with poor patient prognosis. The suppression of APE1 could lead to the accumulation of unrepaired DNA damage in cells. Therefore, APE1 is viewed as an important marker of malignant tumors and could serve as a potent target for the development of antitumor drugs. In this study, we performed a high-throughput virtual screening of a small-molecule library using the three-dimensional structure of APE1 protein. Using the AP site cleavage assay and a cell survival assay, we identified a small molecular compound, NO.0449-0145, to act as an APE1 inhibitor.

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Fig: Expression levels of APE1 are positively correlated with NSCLC.

Treatment with NO.0449-0145 induced DNA damage, apoptosis, pyroptosis, and necroptosis in the NSCLC cell lines A549 and NCI-H460. This inhibitor was also able to impede cancer progression in an NCI-H460 mouse model. Moreover, NO.0449-0145 overcame both cisplatin- and erlotinib-resistance in NSCLC cell lines. These findings underscore the importance of APE1 as a therapeutic target in NSCLC and offer a paradigm for the development of small-molecule drugs that target key DNA repair proteins for the treatment of NSCLC and other cancers.

Long, K., Gu, L., Li, L. et al. Small-molecule inhibition of APE1 induces apoptosis, pyroptosis, and necroptosis in non-small cell lung cancer.Cell Death Dis 12, 503 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41419-021-03804-7

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