Inhibition Of Dynamin Related Protein 1 To Promote Cell Death

  *US09492450B2*
  US009492450B2                                 
(12)United States Patent(10)Patent No.: US 9,492,450 B2
  et al. (45) Date of Patent:*Nov.  15, 2016

(54)Inhibition of dynamin related protein 1 to promote cell death 
    
(75)Inventor: University of Pittsburgh—of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education,  Pittsburgh, PA (US) 
(73)Assignee:UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH—OF THE COMMONWEALTH SYSTEM OF HIGHER EDUCATION,  Pittsburgh, PA (US), Type: US Company 
(*)Notice: Subject to any disclaimer, the term of this patent is extended or adjusted under 35 U.S.C. 154(b) by 99 days. 
  This patent is subject to a terminal disclaimer. 
(21)Appl. No.: 14/273,218 
(22)Filed: May  8, 2014 
(65)Prior Publication Data 
 US 2015/0017262 A1 Jan.  15, 2015 
 Related U.S. Patent Documents 
(63) .
Continuation-in-part of application No. 13/450,345, filed on Apr.  18, 2012, now Pat. No. 8,759,097 .
 
(60)Provisional application No. 61/476,759, filed on Apr.  19, 2011.
 
Jan.  1, 2013 A 61 K 31 517 F I Nov.  15, 2016 US B H C Jan.  1, 2013 A 61 K 31 555 L I Nov.  15, 2016 US B H C Jan.  1, 2013 A 61 K 33 24 L I Nov.  15, 2016 US B H C Jan.  1, 2013 A 61 K 38 38 L I Nov.  15, 2016 US B H C Jan.  1, 2013 A 61 K 45 06 L I Nov.  15, 2016 US B H C 1 1 Jan.  1, 2013 A 61 K 31 517 L I Nov.  15, 2016 US B H C 2 Jan.  1, 2013 A 61 K 2300 00 L A Nov.  15, 2016 US B H C 2 1 Jan.  1, 2013 A 61 K 33 24 L I Nov.  15, 2016 US B H C 2 Jan.  1, 2013 A 61 K 2300 00 L A Nov.  15, 2016 US B H C 3 1 Jan.  1, 2013 A 61 K 31 555 L I Nov.  15, 2016 US B H C 2 Jan.  1, 2013 A 61 K 2300 00 L A Nov.  15, 2016 US B H C 4 1 Jan.  1, 2013 A 61 K 38 38 L I Nov.  15, 2016 US B H C 2 Jan.  1, 2013 A 61 K 2300 00 L A Nov.  15, 2016 US B H C
(51)Int. Cl. A61K 031/517 (20060101); A61P 035/00 (20060101); A61K 038/38 (20060101); C12N 005/09 (20100101); A61K 033/24 (20060101); A61K 045/06 (20060101); A61K 031/555 (20060101)

 
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 U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
 8,759,097  B2  6/2014    Qian et al.     
 2005//0038051  A1  2/2005    Nunnari et al.     
 2008//0287473  A1  11/2008    Nunnari et al.     

 OTHER PUBLICATIONS
  
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     Primary Examiner —Savitha Rao
     Art Unit — 1621
     Exemplary claim number — 1
 
(74)Attorney, Agent, or Firm — Baker Botts L.L.P.

(57)

Abstract

The present invention relates to compositions and methods for reducing cell proliferation and/or promoting cell death by inhibiting Drp1. It is based, at least in part, on the discoveries that (i) Drp1 disruption-induced mitochondrial hyperfusion is functionally linked to the cell cycle regulation apparatus, so that Drp1 inhibition results in a disruption of the cell cycle and DNA aberrancies; (ii) inhibition of both Drp1 and ATR are synthetic lethal causing increased DNA damage and apoptotic cell death; and (iii) even in resistant cell lines, Drp1 inhibitor (e.g., mdivi-1) together with a second antiproliferative agent (e.g., cisplatin or carboplatin) act synergistically to promote apoptosis. Accordingly, the present invention provides for novel anticancer strategies.
25 Claims, 36 Drawing Sheets, and 50 Figures


PRIORITY CLAIM

[0001] This present application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/450,345, filed Apr. 18, 2012, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/476,759, filed Apr. 19, 2011, which are both incorporated by reference herein in their entireties.

GRANT INFORMATION

[0002] This invention was made with government support under Grant Numbers R01CA148644, P30CA047904, P50CA097190, and P50CA121973 from the National Institutes of Health. The government has certain rights in the invention.

SEQUENCE LISTING

[0003] The instant application contains a Sequence Listing which has been submitted in ASCII format via EFS-Web and is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. Said ASCII copy, created on Aug. 27, 2014 is named 723960562.txt and is 47,365 bytes in size.

1. INTRODUCTION

[0004] The present invention relates to compositions and methods for reducing cell proliferation and/or promoting cell death by inhibiting dynamin-related protein 1. It further relates to methods of treating cancer which employ an inhibitor of dynamin-related protein 1 alone or together with a second antiproliferative agent.

2. BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0005] Mitochondria are dynamic organelles that consistently undergo fission and fusion events. Deficiencies in the proteins regulating mitochondrial dynamics are associated with a number of human pathologies including neurodegenerative diseases and newborn lethality (Westermann, 2010). Recently, mitochondria have been shown to undergo morphological remodeling as cells progress through the cell cycle (Mitra et al., 2009). At the G1/S boundary mitochondrial tubules form a highly fused network, which is associated with increased mitochondrial ATP production and high levels of cyclin E, in order to promote G1-to-S transition (Mitra et al., 2009). This hyperfused mitochondrial network is then disassembled and becomes increasingly fragmented through S, G2 and M phase of the cell cycle, with the greatest fragmentation evident during mitosis in order to allow the proper partitioning of mitochondria between two daughter cells during cytokinesis (Kashatus et al., 2011). Thus, mitochondrial remodeling throughout the cell cycle is considered to meet the cellular energy demands during the progression of specific stages of the cell cycle, and to ensure faithful inheritance of mitochondria during cell division. However, how deficiencies in the proteins that regulate mitochondrial dynamics impact cell cycle progression and hence directly contribute to the development of diseases is not clear.
[0006] The dynamic regulation of mitochondrial morphology is achieved by the coordination of mitochondrial fission and fusion events (Green and Van Houten, 2011). Dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1), a large dynamin-related GTPase, is essential for mitochondrial fission (Smimrnova et al., 2001). Loss of Drp1 results in elongated mitochondria, and Drp1 deficiencies have been identified in several human diseases (Cho et al., 2009; Wang et al., 2008; Waterham et al., 2007). Drp1 is directly regulated by the machinery that controls cell cycle progression. For example, Drp1 is phosphorylated at Ser585 by cdc2/cyclin B in order to promote mitochondrial fission during mitosis (Taguchi et al., 2007). Drp1 deficiency is generally thought to cause mitochondrial dysfunction due to a failure of a Drp1-dependent mechanism of mitophagy that removes damaged mitochondria within the cell (Twig et al., 2008). The resulting accumulation of damaged mitochondria may lead to a depletion of cellular ATP and an inhibition of cell proliferation (Parone et al., 2008). Such an energy depletion-related cell proliferation defect may be caused by a metabolic checkpoint that triggers an AMPK- and p53-dependent G1/S cell cycle arrest (Jones et al., 2005; Owusu-Ansah et al., 2008). Consistent with such a mechanism, overexpression of mutant Drp1 (K38A), results in a hyperfused mitochondrial network and a p53-dependent delay of S phase entry (Mitra et al., 2009). However, reduced cell proliferation has also been observed in the absence of cellular ATP depletion in non-immortalized Drp1-knockout mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) (Wakabayashi et al., 2009). This suggests that defective mitochondrial dynamics may affect cell proliferation through mechanisms that are not associated with mitochondrial energy metabolism.
[0007] Chiang et al. (2009) studied Drp-1 in lung adenocarcinoma, and report a link between Drp 1 and chemotherapy drug resistance that is related to intracellular distribution of Drp 1, where sequestration of Drp 1 to the nucleus (which may be related to hypoxia) is associated with resistance to chemotherapy and poor prognosis.
[0008] United States Patent Application Publication Nos. US2005/0038051 and US2008/0287473, both by Nunnari et al., disclose mdivi-1 (referred to as compound A1 and mfisi-1 therein) and related compounds. These applications also disclose that mdivi-1 is a selective inhibitor of Dnm1, the yeast ortholog of Drp1, and inhibits mitochondrial fission and apoptosis. Further, a polypeptide antagonist of calcineurin was reported to inhibit Drp1-dependent mitochondrial fragmentation and apoptosis (Cereghetti and Scorrano, 2010).

3. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] The present invention relates to compositions and methods for reducing cell proliferation and/or promoting cell death by inhibiting Drp1. It is based, at least in part, on the discoveries that (i) Drp disruption-induced mitochondrial hyperfusion is functionally linked to the cell cycle regulation apparatus, so that Drp1 inhibition results in a disruption of the cell cycle and DNA aberrancies; (ii) inhibition of both Drp1 and ATR are synthetic lethal causing increased DNA damage and apoptotic cell death; and (iii) even in resistant cell lines, Drp1 inhibitor (e.g., mdivi-1) together with a second antiproliferative agent (e.g., cisplatin) act synergistically to promote apoptosis. Accordingly, the present invention provides for novel anticancer strategies.

4. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

[0010] FIG. 1A-E. Loss of the fission protein Drp1 causes mitochondrial hyperfusion and induces G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy. (A) Loss of Drp1 induces G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy. MDA-MB-231 cells were examined four days after transfection with control or Drp1 siRNA. Cell cycle distribution was determined by flow cytometric analysis of propidium iodide stained cells. The percentage of the cells containing a DNA content of 4N (G2 and M phase cells) and a DNA content>4N (aneuploidy cells) are indicated. These data are representative of three independent experiments. (B) Loss of Drp1 causes mitochondrial hyperfusion. Changes in mitochondrial morphology were visualized in control and Drp1-deficient MDA-MB-231 cells that express pAcGFP1-Mito. Bars: 10 μm (C) Loss of Drp1 causes decreased cell proliferation. Proliferation of control and Drp1-deficient MDA-MB-231 cells was determined using a CyQUANT assay. Data represent mean±SD. n=4 wells. **p<0.01. (D) Loss of the fusion protein Opa1 reverses the phenotypes observed in Drp1-deficient cells. Immunoblots show the knockdown efficiency of Opa1 and Drp1 in MDA-MB-231 cells. Changes in mitochondrial morphology were visualized in Opa1 knockdown and Opa1/Drp1 double knockdown MDA-MB-231 cells that express pAcGFP-Mito. Bars: 10 μm. Cell cycle distribution was determined as described above. These data are representative of three independent experiments showing at least a two-fold reduction in aneuploidy in the Opa1/Drp1 knockdown cells as compared to Drp1 knockdown cells. (E) Less developed crisae in mitochondria of MDA-MB-231 cells as compared to MCF7 cells, as shown by micrographs from transmission electron microscope. Bars=100 nm.
[0011] FIG. 2A-K. The G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy observed in Drp1-deficient cells are not caused by changes in mitochondrial energy metabolism. (A) Loss of Drp1 does not deplete total intracellular ATP levels. ATP levels were measured after transfection with siRNA for four days (in FIG. 2 all measurements were made four days after transfection). Data represent mean±SD. n=3 wells. ***p<0.005. (B) Loss of Drp1 induces slight decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential. Membrane potential was measured after incubating cells with 20 nM of TMRM for 20 min. Cells that were not incubated with TMRM were used as a negative control. Cells treated with 10 μM of FCCP for 20 min were used as a positive control to show depolarized mitochondrial membrane potential. (C, D) Loss of Drp1 impacts oxygen consumption rate (OCR) (C) and extracellular acidification rate (ECAR) (D). OCR and ECAR were measured using a Seahorse Extracellular Flux analyzer. Data represent mean±SD. n=3 wells. ***p<0.005. (E, F) Loss of Drp1 suppresses mitochondrial ATP generation. The contribution of mitochondria (E) and contribution of glycolysis (F) to total intracellular ATP levels were determined by measuring the changes in total intracellular ATP levels over time in the presence of 100 mM 2DG and 1 μg/ml of oligomycin, respectively. ATP levels were monitored at 5-min intervals for a total of 30 min. Data represent mean±SD. n=3 wells. *p<0.05. **p<0.01. ***p<0.005 (G) Loss of Drp1 does not increase mitochondrial superoxide levels. Mitochondrial superoxide levels were measured after incubating cells with 2.5 μM of MitoSox for 20 min. Cells that were not incubated with MitoSox were used as a negative control. Cells treated with 20 μg/ml of antimycin A for 20 min were used as a positive control to show increased mitochondrial superoxide generation. (H) Oxygen consumption is dramatically decreased in MDA-MB-231 ρ0 cells. OCR was measured using a Seahorse Extracellular Flux analyzer. Data represent mean±SD. n=3 wells. ***p<0.005. (I) Loss of Drp1 induces mitochondrial hyperfusion in MDA-MB-231 ρ0 cells. Changes in mitochondrial morphology were visualized by staining control and Drp1-deficient MDA-MB-231 ρ0 cells with 100 nM of MitoTracker green FM for 20 min. Bars: 10 μm (J) Loss of Drp1 induces G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy in MDA-MB-231 ρ0 cells. Cell cycle distribution was determined by flow cytometric analysis of propidium iodide stained cells. The percentage of the cells containing a DNA content of 4N and a DNA content>4N are indicated. (K) Pharmacological inhibition of mitochondrial respiration, depolarization of mitochondrial membrane potential or stimulation of mitochondrial ROS production does not induce G2/M cell cycle arrest or aneuploidy. MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with either 5 μg/ml oligomycin, 5 μM FCCP, or 10 μg/ml antimycin A for 24 h. Cell cycle distribution was determined as described above.
[0012] FIG. 3A-D. The G2/M cell cycle arrest observed in Drp1-deficient cells is not caused by disruptions in the molecular machinery that is essential for the G2/M cell cycle transition. (A) Cartoon indicates the thymidine/nocodazole block protocol used to synchronize siRNA-transfected cells in G2/M phase. (B) Loss of Drp1 prevents cell cycle progression after release from G2/M block. Control and Drp1-deficient cells were released from a thymidine/nocodazole block and cell cycle distribution was determined by flow cytometric analysis of propidium iodide stained cells collected at indicated time points (right). (C) Loss of Drp1 decreases the number of cells in mitosis immediately following a thymidine/nocodazole block. Control and Drp1-deficient cells were synchronized and cells expressing phospho-histone H3 were labeled using Alex Fluor 647-conjugated anti-phospho-histone H3 antibody and detected by flow cytometry. (D) Loss of Drp1 suppresses the factors that are essential for mitotic entry. Control and Drp1-deficient cells were synchronized and collected at indicated time points following release. The changes in the proteins that are associated with mitotic entry were analyzed by western blot. These data are representative of three independent experiments.
[0013] FIG. 4A-E. Loss of Drp1 induces chromosomal instability and centrosome overamplification. (A, B) Loss of Drp1 induces chromosome abnormalities in mitosis. (A) Mitotic chromosomes were visualized in control and Drp1-deficient cells stably expressing pAcGFP1-Mito by DAPI staining. Microtubules were visualized by staining cells with Alex Fluor 555-conjugated anti-β-tubulin antibody. Representative metaphase and anaphase images are shown. Arrows indicate lagging chromosomes. Bars: 5 μm. (B) The percentage of mitotic control and Drp1-deficient cells with abnormal chromosomes was determined by counting at least 30 mitotic cells from three independent slides. Data represent mean±SD. ***p<0.005. (C, D, E) Loss of Drp1 induces centrosome overamplification. (C) Centrosomes in control and Drp1-deficient cells stably expressing pAcGFP 1-Mito were visualized by staining cells with anti-γ-tubulin antibody, followed by secondary Alex Fluor 594 goat anti-mouse antibody. Nuclei were visualized by DAPI staining. Arrows indicate centrosomes. Bars: 10 pin. (D) Enlarged images of a single focal plane from Drp1 knockdown cells “a” and “b” in panel C. (E) The percentage of control and Drp1-deficient cells with more than two centrosomes was determined by counting at least 100 cells from three independent slides. Data represent mean±SD. ***p<0.005.
[0014] FIG. 5A-D. Loss of Drp1 induces mitochondrial aggregation around the microtubule organizing center (MTOC) (A, B) In Drp1-deficient cells mitochondria aggregate around the MTOC. (A) Microtubules in control and Drp1-deficient cells stably expressing pAcGFP1-Mito were visualized by staining cells with Alex Fluor 555-conjugated anti-β-tubulin antibody, and nuclei were visualized by DAPI staining. Regions with concentrated microtubule staining indicate the locations of MTOC. Bars: 10 μm. (B) Enlarged images of Cell “a” and Cell “b” representing control and Drp1-deficient cells in panel A, respectively. (C) Loss of Drp1 results in reduced mitochondrial motility and redistribution. Mitochondrial dynamics were recorded over time in control and Drp1-deficient MDA-MB-231 cells stably expressing pDsRed2-Mito and histone H2B-GFP. Image sequences show representative mitochondrial movements in the indicated region. Arrows indicate fission events. (D) Mitochondrial remodeling in Drp1-deficient cells. Image sequences obtained in region “a” show a mitochondrial branching event and in region “b” show a transformation of mitochondrial structure from a single fork shape to a net-like morphology.
[0015] FIG. 6A-F. The G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy observed in Drp1-deficient cells are consequences of replication stress-initiated DNA damage signaling that involves ATM/Chk2 and ATR/Chk1 kinases (A) Loss of Drp1 causes accumulation of cyclin E in G2/M phase. Cyclin E expression was assessed by western blot using cell extracts generated from control and Drp1-deficient cells in the presence or absence of nocodazole for 20 h. (B) Knockdown efficiency of cyclin E and Drp1 was confirmed by western blot. (C) Loss of cyclin E reverses the G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy observed in Drp1-deficient cells. Four days after siRNA transfection, cell cycle distribution was determined by flow cytometric analysis of propidium iodide stained cells. The percentages of the cells containing a DNA content of 4N and >4N are indicated. (D) Loss of Drp1 induces a DNA damage response. Cells were transfected with the indicated siRNA for four days and the changes in the proteins related with DNA damage response were assessed by western blot. (E) Loss of ATM reverses the G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy observed in Drp1-deficient cells, while loss of ATR induces G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy. Four days after siRNA transfection, cell cycle distribution was determined as described above. (F) ATR is essential for the survival of Drp1-deficient cells. Cells were transfected with indicated siRNA for four days and apoptosis was assessed by Annexin V and PI staining. The percentages of Annexin V-positive cells are indicated. These data are representative of three independent experiments.
[0016] FIG. 7. Loss of Drp1 induces replication stress-mediated genome instability. Our working model shows that mitochondrial hyperfusion induced by loss of fission protein Drp1 leads to replication stress, centrosome overduplication and chromosomal instability, which are mediated, at least in part, by aberrant expression of cyclin E in G2-phase. Persistent replication stress activates an ATM kinase signaling cascade that induces G2/M cell cycle checkpoint. This is consistent with our data that shows that knockdown of either the fusion protein Opa1, cyclin E or ATM reverses the G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy observed in Drp1-deficient cells. ATR kinase is essential for DNA damage responses to replication stress. Loss of Drp1 induces replication stress and this is further increased by loss of ATR causing increased DNA damage and cell death.
[0017] FIG. 8A-B. Both genetic interruption and pharmacological inhibition of Drp1 induce G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy. (A) siRNA-mediated knockdown of Drp1 induces G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy in various of cell lines. The human breast carcinoma cell lines MDA-MB-231 (p53R280K), MCF7 (p53 wt) and MDA-MB-157 (p53 null), and the human lung carcinoma cell lines A549 (p53 wt) and H1299 (p53 null) were transfected with control or Drp1 siRNA. Cells were collected at four days after siRNA transfection, and the cell cycle profile was assessed by flow cytometric analysis of BrdU and propidium iodide staining. The percentage of cells in G1, S, G2/M and >4N which were indicated in the square regions were quantified and summarized in the table. (B) Pharmacological inhibition of Drp1 by a small molecule inhibitor mdivi-1 induces G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy. MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with DMSO as vehicle or mdivi-1 for 48 hours with indicated concentrations. Cell cycle distribution was determined by flow cytometric analysis of propidium iodide stained cells. The percentage of the cells containing a DNA content of 4N and >4N are indicated. Data presented in this figure are representative of three independent experiments.
[0018] FIG. 9A-C. Chemical structures of (A) Mdivi-1; (B) cisplatin; and (C) carboplatin.
[0019] FIG. 10A-B. (A) The effect of inhibition of Drp1 with siRNA on the cell cycle and DNA content. (B) The effect of inhibition of Drp1 with mdivi-1 on the cell cycle and DNA content.
[0020] FIG. 11. Mdivi-1-induced chromosomal instability in MDA-MB-231 cells during mitosis. Bars are 5 μm.
[0021] FIG. 12. Growth of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells exposed to various concentrations of mdivi-1 or DMSO (as negative control). Data represent mean±SD. n=4 wells.
[0022] FIG. 13A-C. Inhibiting Drp1 increased cellular sensitivity to cisplatin-induced cell death. (A) Cell viability after treatment with various concentrations of cisplatin decreased when coadministered with Drp1 siRNA. (B) The number of dead cells after treatment with various concentrations of cisplatin increased when coadministered with mdivi-1. (C) The number of apoptotic cells after treatment with various concentrations of cisplatin increased when coadministered with mdivi-1.
[0023] FIG. 14. Survival of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells following short-term exposure to mdivi-1 in combination with cisplatin.
[0024] FIG. 15A-C. Survival of (A) MDA-MB-231, (B) non-small cell lung carcinoma cells H1299, and (C) glioblastoma cells LN428 treated with various combinations of cisplatin and mdivi-1.
[0025] FIG. 16. Human serum albumin (HSA)-bound mdivi-1 enhances the toxicity of HSA-bound cisplatin.
[0026] FIG. 17. 2-Hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HP-β-CD) can be used to improve the solubility of mdivi-1, and maintain the synergistic cell killing effect with the combination of mdivi-1 and cisplatin.
[0027] FIG. 18. Identification of cisplatin as an agent whose efficacy is specifically enhanced by mdivi-1. Multidrug-resistant MDA-MB-231 breast carcinoma cells were treated with increasing doses of mdivi-1 alone, a series of anticancer drugs alone, or the combination of increasing doses of anticancer drugs with 20 μM mdivi-1 for 20 h. Apoptosis was determined by measuring the activity of caspase-3/7. The drugs tested were platinum agent, cisplatin; antifolate agent, methotrexate; topoisomerase II inhibitor, etoposide; cytidine analog, gemcitabine; pyrimidine analog, 5-FU; alkylating agents, cyclophosphamide, MMS and MNNG; DNA crosslinking agent, MMC; DNA intercalating agent, doxorubicin; and antimitotic drug, paclitaxel. These data represent the mean±s.d.; n=4.
[0028] FIG. 19A-E. Combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 produces synergistic pro-apoptotic effect in multidrug resistant tumor cells. (A) MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with increasing doses of mdivi-1 for 72 h. The survival was assessed by MTS assay. These data represent the mean±s.d.; n=4. (B) MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with increasing doses of cisplatin alone or the combination with 20 μM or 50 μM of mdivi-1 for 72 h. The survival was assessed by MTS assay. (C) MDA-MB-231 cells were exposed to cisplatin and mdivi-1 alone or combination at their IC50 or 0.5 fold of their IC50. The combination index (CI) and the normalized isobologram were generated using CompuSyn. (D) MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with DMSO, 50 μM cisplatin alone, 50 μM mdivi-1 alone, or the combination for 2 h. The compounds were then washed out and the cell number was determined every 24 h by CyQuant assay. (E) MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with agents alone, or the combination at a ratio of 1:1 for 20 h. The number of apoptotic cells was determined with antibody recognizing cleaved caspase-3 followed by flow cytometry. These data represent the mean±s.d.; n=3.
[0029] FIG. 20A-C. The combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 efficiently overcomes acquired cisplatin resistance in human ovarian cancer cells, including those from endstage cisplatin- and treatment-refractory patient. (A) The comparison of cisplatin sensitivity in ovarian cancer cells A2780 and their derivative cisplatin-resistant A2780cis cells (left panel). A2780cis cells were treated with cisplatin alone or in combination with mdivi-1 for 72 h (right panel). The survival was determined by MTS assay. (B and C) Ex vivo drug sensitivity assay using primary EOC cells isolated from ascites fluid of ovarian cancer patients (B, treatment-naïve; C, cisplatin-resistant). Apoptosis was measured by caspase-3/7 activity assay after 20 h exposure and the survival was measured by MTS assay after 72 h exposure.
[0030] FIG. 21A-F. Mdivi-1 enhances cisplatin sensitivity through Drp1-independent mechanisms. (A) Confirmation of the depletion of Drp1 in Drp1 knockout SV40-transformed MEF cells by western blot. (B) Drp1 wild-type (Drp1+/+) and knockout (Drp1−/−) MEF cells were treated as indicated for 20 h, and the number of apoptotic cells was determined by antibody recognizing cleaved caspase-3. These data represent the mean±s.d.; n=3. (C) Drp1 wild-type and knockout MEF cells were treated with mdivi-1 for 24 h, and the cell number were determined by CyQuant assay. (D) OCR was measured after 1 h treatment of Drp1 wild-type and knockout MEF cells with DMSO or mdivi-1. (E) The combination effect of cisplatin with four analogs of mdivi-1. MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with 20 μM of agents alone or in combination for 20 h. (F) The structures of mdivi-1 and its analogs tested in panel E.
[0031] FIG. 22A-E. Mdivi-1 inhibits DNA replication and its combination with cisplatin enhances replication stress leading to efficient G2 phase arrest of the cell cycle. (A) MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with cisplatin alone, mdivi-1 alone or the combination at the indicated concentrations for 4 h. Western blot was then performed to detect the phosphorylation status of key proteins involved in DNA damage response. (B) MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with 20 μM cisplatin alone, 20 μM mdivi-1 alone or the combination for 20 h. The distribution of cell cycle was determined by triple staining of the cells with anti-BrdU, anti-phospho-Histone H3 and PI. (C) Quantification of the distribution of cell cycle analyzed in panel B. (D) The effect of mdivi-1 on the rate of DNA synthesis was analyzed by a histogram, which was generated from the data obtained in panel B, showing the changes of BrdU intensity. (E) Cells were treated as described in B and γ-H2AX was analyzed by western blot. These data represent three independent experiments.
[0032] FIG. 23A-E. The combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 preferentially upregulates Noxa and enhances subsequent mitochondrial apoptotic signaling. (A) H1299 cells were treated with cisplatin alone, mdivi-1 alone, or the combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 as indicated. Western blot was then performed to detect the cleavage of caspase-9 and -3. (B) Cytochrome c release from mitochondria into cytosol. H1299 cells were treated with the combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 at 50 μM with the presence of 20 μM caspase inhibitor Q-VD-OPH for the indicated time. The cytosol and heavy membrane fraction were then isolated using digitonin permeabilization followed by centrifugation. The amount of cytochrome c present in each fraction was detected by western blot. (C) The changes in the levels of pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins. (D) The effect of cycloheximide on the levels of Noxa following the combination treatment. (E) H1299 cells were transfected with control or Noxa-specific siRNA for four days, and then treated with cisplatin and mdivi-1 as indicated. Noxa knockdown efficiency, mitochondrial release of cytochrome c, and the cleavage of caspase-9 and -3 were determined by western blot. These data represent three independent experiments.
[0033] FIG. 24A-E. The combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 enhances MOMP bypassing Bax/Bak-dependent mechanism. (A) Bax/Bak wild-type (Bax/Bak+/+) and double knockout (Bax/Bak−/−) SV40-transformed MEF cells were treated with cisplatin at indicated concentrations for 20 h. The cleavage of caspase-9 and -3 were detected by western blot. (B, C) Cleavage of caspase-9 and -3 in Bax/Bak wild-type and double knockout MEF cells after combination treatment. (D) Quantification of apoptotic cells by Annexin V and PI after 8 h treatment of combination at 50 μM. (E) Release of cytochrome c from Bax/Bak wild-type and double knockout MEF cells after combination treatment. These data represent three independent experiments.
[0034] FIG. 25A-I. Mdivi-1 causes mitochondrial dysfunction and its combination with cisplatin induces mitochondrial swelling that triggers Bax/Bak-independent MOMP. (A) MDA-MB-231 cells and H1299 cells were treated as indicated for 4 h and subjected to ATP determination. These data represent the mean±s.d.; n=4. (B, C) OCR and ECAR were measured after 4 h treatment of H1299 cells with agents alone or the combination (C/M). (D) H1299 cells were treated as indicated for 4 h. Mitochondrial membrane potential was determined with TMRM. (E) Bax/Bak double knockout MEF cells were treated with DMSO or the combination, with or without the presence of 10 μM FCCP for 2 h. Mitochondrial membrane potential was measured as in D. (F) Bax/Bak double knockout MEF cells were treated as indicated for 2 h, ROS generation was determined with DCF-DA. (G) Bax/Bak double knockout MEF cells were pre-incubated with 5 μM MitoSox for 30 min, and then treated as indicated for 2 h followed by flow cytometry. (H) Bax/Bak double knockout MEF cells were transfected with pDsRed2-Mito plasmids. Three days after transfection, cells were treated as indicated for 4 h. Mitochondrial morphology was analyzed by confocal microscopy. The bars indicate 2 μm. (I) Cells were treated as indicated for 4 h. Mitochondrial ultrastructure was analyzed by electron microscopy. The bars indicate 500 nm. The concentrations of cisplatin and mdivi-1 were used at 50 μM.
[0035] FIG. 26A-B. MDA-MB-231 cells are resistant to ATR and PARP inhibition alone and in combination with cisplatin. (A) MDA-MB-231 cells were transfected with control or ATR siRNA for four days, and then left untreated or treated with cisplatin for 20 h. (B) MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with series doses of PARP inhibitor ABT-888 alone or with the combination of cisplatin for 20 h. Apoptosis was determined by measuring the activity of caspase-3/7. These data represent the mean±s.d.; n=4.
[0036] FIG. 27. Enhanced apoptosis by the combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 in various types of cancer cells, including Human head and neck cancer (Cal33), and melanoma (983A) cells were treated with various combinations of cisplatin and mdivi-1 at indicated concentrations. After 20 h, apoptotic cell death was determined by measuring the activity of caspase-3/7.
[0037] FIG. 28A-B. The synergistic effect between mdivi-1 and carboplatin. Human breast carcinoma MDA-MB-231 cells (A) and non-small cell lung carcinoma H1299 cells (B) were treated with various combinations of carboplatin and mdivi-1 at indicated concentrations. After 20 h, apoptotic cell death was determined by measuring the activity of caspase-3/7.
[0038] FIG. 29. The enhanced cell death by the combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 is p53 independent p53 wild-type (p53+/+) and knockout (p53−/−) HCT116 colon cancer cells were treated with increasing doses of cisplatin alone or with the presence of 20 μM or 50 μM of mdivi-1 for 72 h. Cell survival was determined by MTS assay. These data represent the mean±s.d.; n=4.

5. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0039] For clarity and not by way of limitation, the detailed description is divided into the following subsections:
[0040] (i) inhibitors of Drp1;
[0041] (ii) formulations of Drp1 inhibitors;
[0042] (iii) agents for use with Drp1 inhibitors; and
[0043] (iv) methods of treatment.

5.1 Inhibitors of Drp1

[0044] In certain non-limiting embodiments, inhibitors of Drp1 that may be used according to the invention include small molecule inhibitors such as the compounds disclosed in United States Patent Application Publication Nos. US2005/0038051 and US2008/0287473, both by Nunnari et al., as inhibitors of the yeast Dynamin-Related GTPase (and Drp1 homolog), Dnm1p, including but not limited to the compound depicted herein in FIG. 9A and referred to as mdivi-1. In further non-limiting embodiments, inhibitors of Drp1 include mdivi-1 related compounds described in Cassidy-Stone et al., Dev Cell 14:193-204, for example including compounds B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I of FIG. 2 of that reference and FIG. 21 of the present application, where compound A (mdivi-1) and compound B are said to have full efficacy relative to mdivi-1 and compounds C, D, and E are said to have moderate efficacy and compounds F, G, H and I are said to have poor efficacy. In specific non-limiting embodiments, a Drp inhibitor is mdivi-1 or a mdivi-1 related compound which exhibits at least 50% of the biological activity of mdivi-1 on mitochondrial morphology.
[0045] In specific, non-limiting embodiments, a Drp1 inhibitor inhibits a Drp1 protein selected from the group consisting of isoform 1 (NCBI Ace. No. NP_036192.2 (SEQ ID NO:1)), isoform 2 (NCBI Ace. No. NP_036193.2 (SEQ ID NO:2)), isoform 3 (NCBI Ace. No. NP_005681.2 (SEQ ID NO:3)) and protein as set forth in GenBank Accession No. AAH24590.1 (SEQ ID NO:4).
[0046] In certain non-limiting embodiments, inhibitors of Drp1 that may be used according to the invention include nucleic acids that inhibit expression and/or reduce activity of Drp1, for example but not limited to ribozymes, antisense oligonucleotide inhibitors, and siRNA inhibitors. A “ribozyme” refers to a nucleic acid capable of cleaving a specific nucleic acid sequence. Within some embodiments, a ribozyme should be understood to refer to RNA molecules that contain anti-sense sequences for specific recognition, and an RNA-cleaving enzymatic activity, see, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,770,633. In contrast, “antisense oligonucleotides” generally are small oligonucleotides complementary to a part of a gene to impact expression of that gene. Gene expression can be inhibited through hybridization of an oligonucleotide to a specific gene or messenger RNA (mRNA) thereof. In some cases, a therapeutic strategy can be applied to dampen expression of one or several genes believed to initiate or to accelerate inflammation, see, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,822,087 and WO 2006/062716. A “small interfering RNA” or “short interfering RNA” or “siRNA” or “short hairpin RNA” or “shRNA” are forms of RNA interference (RNAi). An interfering RNA can be a double-stranded RNA or partially double-stranded RNA molecule that is complementary to a target nucleic acid sequence, for example, caspase 6 or caspase 9. Micro interfering RNA's (miRNA) also fall in this category. A double-stranded RNA molecule is formed by the complementary pairing between a first RNA portion and a second RNA portion within the molecule. The length of each portion generally is less than 30 nucleotides in length (e.g., 29, 28, 27, 26, 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, or 10 nucleotides). In some embodiments, the length of each portion is 19 to 25 nucleotides in length. In some siRNA molecules, the complementary first and second portions of the RNA molecule are the “stem” of a hairpin structure. The two portions can be joined by a linking sequence, which can form the “loop” in the hairpin structure. The linking sequence can vary in length. In some embodiments, the linking sequence can be 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 or 13 nucleotides in length. Linking sequences can be used to join the first and second portions, and are known in the art. The first and second portions are complementary but may not be completely symmetrical, as the hairpin structure may contain 3′ or 5′ overhang nucleotides (e.g., a 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 nucleotide overhang). The RNA molecules of the invention can be expressed from a vector or produced chemically or synthetically. In certain non-limiting embodiments, the ribozyme, siRNA, or antisense RNA inhibits expression of Drp1 and may comprise a portion which is complementary to a nucleic acid sequence as set forth in one or more of GenBank Accession No. BC024590.1; NCBI Reference Sequence NM_012062.3 (transcript variant 1), NM_012063.2 (transcript variant 2) or NM_005690.3 (transcript variant 3) (see SEQ ID NO:5, 6, 7 and 8, respectively). In one specific, non-limiting embodiment, an siRNA may comprise the sequence 5′-AACGCAGAGCAGCGGAAAGAG-3′ (SEQ ID NO:9) (Sugioka et al., 2004).
[0047] In certain non-limiting embodiments of the invention, the inhibitor of Drp1 may be Dynasore (Macia et al., 2006). Experiments to date have not demonstrated a synergistic effect between Dynasore and cisplatin.
[0048] In certain non-limiting embodiments, the Drp1 inhibitor may be the compound depicted herein in FIG. 21F and referred to as compound D.
[0049] Additional Drp1 inhibitors may be identified as compounds that have comparable effects on Drp1 activity as Drp1 siRNA and mdivi-1, for example, but not limited to, induction of G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy (see, for example, FIGS. 10A and B).

5.2 Formulations of Drp1 Inhibitors

[0050] In certain non-limiting embodiments, the present invention provides for pharmaceutical formulations for therapeutic use of a Drp1 inhibitor. Such formulations are compositions comprising a Drp1 inhibitor together with one or more of the following: sodium chloride, a pharmaceutical buffer, a carrier, and a solvent. Non-limiting examples of solvents include water, saline, water-miscible alcohols, dimethylsulfoxide, and mixtures thereof. Non-limiting examples of carriers include albumin and cyclodextrin.
[0051] In particular, non-limiting embodiments of the invention, the Drp1 inhibitor is a compound disclosed in US2005/0038051 and/or US2008/0287473 and is comprised in a pharmaceutical composition further comprising human serum albumin and/or cyclodextrin 2-Hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HP-β-CD). In a specific, non-limiting embodiment, the Drp1 inhibitor is mdivi-1 and is comprised in a pharmaceutical composition further comprising albumin (e.g., human serum albumin (“HSA”)) and/or cyclodextrin 2-Hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HP-β-CD).
[0052] In particular non-limiting embodiments, the molar ratio of Drp1 inhibitor to HSA is between 0.01:1 to 1:1. In a specific non-limiting embodiment, the molar ratio of Drp 1 inhibitor to HSA is 1:2.25. In certain non-limiting embodiments, the concentration of HSA is between 0.01% to 30% (weight/volume; w/v). In a subset of such embodiments, the Drp1 inhibitor is mdivi-1.
[0053] In particular non-limiting embodiments, the molar ratio of Drp1 inhibitor to cyclodextrin (e.g., HP-β-CD) is between 0.01:1 and 1:1. In particular, non-limiting embodiments, the concentration of HP-β-CD is between 1% to 50% w/v. In a specific, non-limiting embodiment, the concentration of HP-β-CD is between about 35-40% w/v. In a subset of such embodiments, the Drp1 inhibitor is mdivi-1.

5.3 Agents for Use with Drp1 Inhibitors

[0054] One or more Drp1 inhibitor may be used in conjunction with treatment with one or more other antiproliferative agent, sometimes referred to herein as a “second antiproliferative agent.” Suitable antiproliferative agents include but are not limited to radiation therapy and chemotherapeutic agents. Suitable chemotherapeutic agents include but are not limited to (i) platinum-containing compounds such as cisplatin (FIG. 9B), carboplatin (FIG. 9C), oxiplatin, and bisplatinate compounds; (ii) other alkylating agents including but not limited to carmustine, cyclophosphamide, dacarbazine, ifosfamide, melphalan and thiotepa; and (iii) ATR inhibitors including but not limited to sc-202964, schisandrin B, CGK733, caffeine, and ATR inhibitors set forth in Toledo et al. 2011 and/or Reaper et al., 2011.

5.4 Methods of Treatment

[0055] The present invention relates to methods for reducing cell proliferation and/or promoting cell death by inhibiting Drp1.
[0056] In certain non-limiting embodiments, the invention provides for a method for reducing cell proliferation and/or promoting cell death by administering, to a cell, an effective amount of a Drp1 inhibitor, optionally in conjunction/combination with administering an effective amount of a second antiproliferative agent. Examples of second antiproliferative agents are provided above. “An effective amount” is an amount that reduces cell proliferation and/or promotes cell death. Where the Drp1 inhibitor is used in conjunction/combination with a second antiproliferative agent, the amount of each may in some instances be less than an effective amount for that agent taken singly, but when both are used effectiveness is achieved.
[0057] “In conjunction/combination with,” “in conjunction with” or “in combination with” all mean that the Drp1 inhibitor and the second antiproliferative agent are administered to a cell or subject as part of a treatment regimen or plan. These terms do not require that the Drp1 inhibitor and second antiproliferative agent are physically combined prior to administration nor that they be administered over the same time frame. For example, drawing analogy to electronics, they may be administered in series or in parallel.
[0058] In certain non-limiting embodiments, the invention provides for a method for reducing cell proliferation and/or promoting cell death in a subject in need of such treatment comprising administering, to the subject, an effective amount of a Drp1 inhibitor, optionally in conjunction with a second antiproliferative agent.
[0059] In certain non-limiting embodiments, the present invention provides for a method of treating a disorder associated with cell proliferation comprising administering, to a subject in need of such treatment, an effective amount of a Drp1 inhibitor, optionally in conjunction with a second antiproliferative agent.
[0060] A subject is a human or a non-human subject, such as a primate, dog, cat, horse, cow, pig, sheep, goat, etc.
[0061] A “subject in need of such treatment” is a subject suffering from a disorder, or at risk of developing a disorder, where the disorder involves unwanted cell proliferation, including but not limited to neoplastic disorders, cancer (solid and non-solid), and disorders of immunity.
[0062] In certain non-limiting embodiments, the invention provides for a method for reducing cancer cell proliferation and/or promoting cancer cell death in a subject in need of such treatment comprising administering, to the subject, an effective amount of a Drp1 inhibitor, optionally in conjunction with a second antiproliferative agent.
[0063] In certain non-limiting embodiments, the present invention provides for a method of treating a cancer in a subject comprising administering, to the subject, an effective amount of a Drp1 inhibitor, optionally in conjunction with a second antiproliferative agent.
[0064] Cancers and cancer cells which may be treated according to the invention include, but are not limited to, breast cancer, lung adenocarcinoma, small cell lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, mesothelioma, glioblastoma multiforme, melanoma, hepatocarcinoma, pancreatic carcinoma, gastric carcinoma, biliary carcinoma, intestinal carcinoma, colon carcinoma, renal carcinoma, sarcoma, ovarian carcinoma, testicular carcinoma, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, osteosarcoma, squamous cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, leukemia, and lymphoma.
[0065] In certain non-limiting embodiments, a Drp1 inhibitor is administered by a route selected from the group consisting of intravenous, topical, intramuscular, subcutaneous, oral, intraarterial, intraperitoneal, intrathecal, intranasal, pulmonary, vaginal or rectal. In certain non-limiting embodiments, a Drp1 inhibitor is administered via an implant. In certain non-limiting embodiments, a Drp1 inhibitor is administered by local instillation, for example, at a tumor site or site of tumor resection.
[0066] In certain non-limiting embodiments, a secondary antiproliferative agent, where used, is a administered by a route selected from the group consisting of intravenous, intramuscular, subcutaneous, oral, intraarterial, intraperitoneal, intrathecal, intranasal, pulmonary, vaginal or rectal. In certain non-limiting embodiments, a second antiproliferative agent is administered via an implant. In certain non-limiting embodiments, a second antiproliferative agent is administered by local instillation, for example, at a tumor site or site of tumor resection.
[0067] In a specific non-limiting embodiment, the Drp1 inhibitor is mdivi-1, and is administered to achieve a local concentration at the site where cell proliferation is to be inhibited of between about 0.001 to 100 μM, or between about 0.1 to 50 μM.
[0068] In a specific non-limiting embodiment, the second antiproilferative agent is cisplatin, and is administered to achieve a local concentration at the site where cell proliferation is to be inhibited of between about 0.001 to 100 μM, or between about 0.1 to 50 μM.
[0069] In a specific non-limiting embodiment, the second antiproliferative agent is cisplatin, and is administered at a dose of 10-100 mg/m2, administered intravenously.
[0070] In a specific non-limiting embodiment, the second antiproliferative agent is carboplatin, and is administered at a dose of 100-400 mg/m2, administered intravenously.
[0071] In a specific, non-limiting embodiment, cisplatin or carboplatin is administered with HSA carrier at a molar ratio of cisplatin to HSA of about 1:2.25),

6. EXAMPLE 1

Mitochondrial Hyperfusion-Induced Loss of Fission Protein Drp1 Causes ATM-Dependent G2/M Arrest and Aneuploidy Through DNA Replication Stress

6.1 Materials and Methods

[0072] Cell Culture and Transfection.
[0073] The human breast carcinoma cell lines MDA-MB-231, MCF7 and MDA-MB-157, and the human lung carcinoma cell line A549 and H1299 were obtained from American Type Culture Collection (ATCC). Cells were cultured in RPMI 1640 supplemented with 10% heat-inactivated fetal calf serum and 1% penicillin-streptomycin in 5% CO2 at 37° C. MDA-MB-231 ρ0 cell line was established by culturing MDA-MB-231 cells in RPMI 1640 medium supplemented with 10% heat-inactivated fetal calf serum, 1% penicillin-streptomycin, 1 mM sodium pyruvate, 50 μg/ml uridine, and 50 ng/ml ethidium bromide for at least four weeks (King and Attardi, 1996). DNA transfection was performed using FuGENE 6 (Roche) and siRNA transfection was performed using oligofectamine (Invitrogen) according to the manufacture's instructions. Stable cell lines were established by G418 selection and cell sorting following transfection.
[0074] Expression Vectors and RNA Interference.
[0075] pAcGFP 1-Mito and pDsRed2-Mito vectors were purchased from Clontech. Histone H2B-GFP (Kanda et al., 1998) was purchased from Addgene (Addgene plasmid 11680). ATR siRNA was purchased from Dharmacon, while all other siRNAs including AllStars Negative Control siRNA were purchased from Qiagen. The siRNA sense strand sequences are as follows: ATR, 5′-AAGAGTTCTCAGAAGTCAACC-3′ (SEQ ID NO:10); Drp1, 5′-AACGCAGAGCAGCGGAAAGAG-3′ (SEQ ID NO:9) (Sugioka et al., 2004); Opa1, 5′-AAGTTATCAGTCTGAGCCAGGTT-3′ (SEQ ID NO: 11); cyclin E, 5′-AACCAAACTTGAGGAAATCTA-3′ (SEQ ID NO:12) (Hemerly et al., 2009); ATM, 5′-AAGCGCCTGATTCGAGATCCT-3′ (SEQ ID NO:13) (White et al., 2008).
[0076] Cell Proliferation.
[0077] Cells were transfected with either control or Drp1 siRNA and replated into 96-well plates at the following day. Cell proliferation was determined at 24 h intervals using a CyQUANT Direct Cell Proliferation Assay kit (Invitrogen), according to the manufacturer's instruction.
[0078] Apoptosis Detection.
[0079] Apoptosis was determined by staining cells with Annexin V-FITC and propidium iodide (PI) using an FITC Annexin V Apoptosis Detection Kit (BD PharMingen, San Diego, Calif.) followed by flow cytometric analysis using a CyAn ADP Analyzer (Beckman Coulter, Brea, Calif.). Data were analyzed using Summit software.
[0080] Cell Synchronization.
[0081] MDA-MB-231 cells were synchronized at G2/M phase by single thymidine (2 mM) block (19 h) followed by release into nocodazole (100 ng/ml)-containing media (16 h) (thymidine/nocodazole block).
[0082] Cell Cycle Analysis.
[0083] For DNA content analysis, cells were trypsinized and fixed in 70% ice-cold ethanol overnight at 4° C. After fixation, the cells were washed with 1% BSA/PBS, and permeabilized using 0.25% triton-X 100 in 1% BSA/PBS. Cells were then incubated in PI solution (PBS containing 50 μg/ml of PI and 40 μg/ml of RNase A) for 30 min at room temperature. S phase cells were detected using a bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation assay. Cells were pulse-labeled with 10 μM BrdU for 30 min at 37° C. Cells were then trypsinized and fixed in 70% ice-cold ethanol overnight at 4° C. DNA was denatured in 2 N HCl containing 0.5% Triton X-100, and the cells were then neutralized with 0.1 M Na2B4O7. Cells were then stained with FITC-labeled anti-BrdU antibody (BD Biosciences, San Jose, Calif.). To determine the number of cells in mitosis, cells were fixed, permeabilized and stained with Alexa Fluor 647-conjugated phospho-Histone H3 (Ser 10) antibody (Cell signaling technology). Samples were then analyzed on a CyAn ADP Analyzer (Beckman Coulter, Brea, Calif.). 5×104 events per sample were acquired to ensure adequate mean fluorescence levels. Data were analyzed using Summit software.
[0084] ATP Measurement.
[0085] Total cellular ATP content was determined using a luminescent ATP detection kit, ATPlite (PerkinElmer Life Sciences, Boston, Mass.), according to the manufacturer's instructions. The luminescence intensity was measured using a microplate reader, Synergy 2 (BioTek instruments, Winooski, Vt.).
[0086] Extracellular Flux (XF) Analysis.
[0087] Oxygen consumption rate (OCR) and extracellular acidification rate (ECAR) were measured as we previously described (Qian and Van Houten, 2010). Cells were seeded in XF24 cell culture plates at 4×104 cells/well and incubated in 5% CO2 at 37° C. Prior to the analysis, cells were washed and growth medium was replaced with bicarbonate-free modified RPMI 1640 medium, the “assay medium” (Molecular Devices, Sunnyvale, Calif.). Cells were then incubated for another 60 min in a 37° C. incubator without CO2. OCR and ECAR measurements were then performed simultaneously using a Seahorse XF24 Extracellular Flux Analyzer (Seahorse Bioscience, North Billerica, Mass.).
[0088] Mitochondrial Membrane Potential and Superoxide Generation.
[0089] To measure mitochondrial membrane potential and superoxide generation, cells were incubated in either 20 nM of TMRM (Invitrogen) or 2.5 μM of MitoSox (Invitrogen) for 20 min at 37° C., respectively. Cells were then trypsinized and suspended in HBSS containing 1% BSA. TMRM and MitoSox fluorescence intensity were analyzed using a CyAn ADP Analyzer (Beckman Coulter, Brea, Calif.). 5×10 events per sample were acquired and the results were analyzed using Summit software.
[0090] Western Blot Analysis.
[0091] Cells were lysed in cell lysis buffer (Cell signaling technology) containing complete protease inhibitor (Roche). Cell lysates were cleared at 15,000 rpm for 15 min at 4° C. The protein content of the cleared cell lysate was quantified using a Bio-Rad Protein Assay kit (Bio-Rad Laboratories, Hercules, Calif.). Then the cell lysates were combined with 2×SDS sample buffer. The equal amount of protein was separated on Tris-glycine or Tris-acetate gels (Invitrogen). The separated proteins were blotted onto a polyvinylidene difluoride membrane and blocked overnight at 4° C. in phosphate-buffered saline containing 0.1% Tween 20 and 10% nonfat dry milk (blocking buffer). Membranes were incubated with primary antibody in blocking buffer overnight at 4° C. Primary antibodies used were: Drp1 and Opa1 were from BD Biosciences, β-actin (AC-15) and ATM (MAT3-4G10/8) were from Sigma, cyclin E (HE12), cyclin B1 (H-20) and ATR(N-19) were from Santa Cruz Biotechnology, phospho-cdc2 (Tyr15), Chk1 (2G1D5), phospho-Chk2 (Thr68) (C13C1), Chk2 (1C12) and cleaved caspase-3 were from Cell Signaling Technology, phospho-Chk1 (Ser317) was from R&D systems, cdh1 was a gift from Dr. Yong Wan, phospho-ATM (S1981) was from Epitomics, and phospho-Histone H2AX (Ser139) (JBW301) was from Millipore. Membranes were then washed and incubated in peroxidase conjugated anti-rabbit IgG (Sigma), anti-mouse IgG (Sigma), or anti-goat IgG (Santa Cruz Biotechnology) secondary antibody for 1 h at room temperature. Membranes were washed and developed using SuperSignal West Femto Maximum Sensitivity Substrate (Thermo Fisher Scientific).
[0092] Immunofluorescence.
[0093] Cells were fixed in 4% paraformaldehyde (Electron microscopy sciences, Hatfield, Pa.) in PBS for 15 min at 37° C. and blocked using 3% BSA in PBS containing 0.3% Triton X-100 overnight at 4° C. For centrosome staining, cells were incubated for 1 hour at room temperature with anti-γ-tubulin antibody (Sigma), followed by an incubation with the secondary Alex Fluor 594 goat anti-mouse antibody (Invitrogen) for 1 hour at room temperature. β-tubulin was visualized by incubation with Alex Fluor 555-conjugated anti-β-tubulin antibody (Cell Signaling Technology). Slides were mounted with VECTASHIELD mounting medium containing DAPI (Vector Laboratories, Burlingame, Calif.). Confocal images were captured using a laser-scanning confocal microscope, Olympus FLUOVIEW FV-1000, with a PlanApo N 60× oil immersion objective, NA=1.42 (Olympus).
[0094] Live Cell Confocal Microscopy Analysis.
[0095] Cells were plated on 40 mm diameter coverglass and incubated for 24 hours at 37° C. The coverglass was then assembled into an environmentally controlled closed chamber system, FCS2 live cell chamber (Bioptechs, Butler, Pa.). The chamber system was then mounted on an inverted confocal microscope (Nikon A1, Nikon), controlled by NIS-Elements software. Leibovitz's L-15 medium supplemented with 10% FBS and 1% penicillin-streptomycin was used, and the temperature of the chamber was maintained at 37° C. during the imaging. The excitation wavelengths for GFP and DsRed2 were 488 and 543 nm, respectively. Signal was collected through a Plan Apo VC 60× Oil immersion objective, NA=1.40 (Nikon). The number of individual Z-stacks was set to cover the entire thickness of the cell, with the step size of 1 μm. Time-lapse images were captured at the interval of no time delay. The perfect focus system (PFS) was applied to automatically correct possible focus drift during the period of time-lapse imaging. Post-acquisition analysis of image files was performed using MetaMorph (Molecular Devices), Image J (National Institutes of Health) and Photoshop (Adobe).
[0096] Statistical Analysis.
[0097] Data are expressed as mean±standard deviation. A Student's t test was used for the comparisons between two groups. p<0.05 was considered statistically significant.

6.2 Results

[0098] Loss of the Fission Protein Drp1 Causes Mitochondrial Hyperfusion and Induces G2/M Cell Cycle Arrest and Aneuploidy.
[0099] To investigate the functional consequences of defective mitochondrial dynamics on cell cycle progression, we knocked down the expression of the mitochondrial fission protein Drp1 using siRNA. Cell cycle analysis revealed that loss of Drp1 induced G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy (DNA content>4N) in a variety of cell lines independent of their p53 status (FIG. 1A; FIG. 8A). Since MDA-MB-231 cells showed the most severe phenotype, we selected this cell line for further investigations into the underlying mechanism. Mitochondria in MDA-MB-231 cells are thinner and have less cristae than mitochondria in MCF7 cells (FIG. 1E). Drp1 deficiency in MDA-MB-231 cells induced a hyperfused mitochondrial network as expected (FIG. 1B), as well as a remarkable decrease in cell proliferation (FIG. 1C). To confirm that these phenotypes were the consequences of Drp1 deficiency and to exclude the possible off-target effects of the siRNA, we employed a selective small molecule inhibitor of Drp1, mdivi-1 (Cassidy-Stone et al., 2008). Mdivi-1 induced the similar G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy as Drp1 deficiency achieved by using siRNA (FIG. 8B). Thus, Drp1 function is essential for proper cell cycle progression.
[0100] To determine whether mitochondrial fission per se is directly responsible for the G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy observed in Drp1-deficient cells, we knocked down an essential mitochondrial fusion protein Opa1 (Cipolat et al., 2004) to counteract the Drp1 knockdown-induced mitochondrial hyperfusion. Knockdown of Opa1 restored the mitochondrial fragmentation in Drp1-deficient cells (FIG. 1D). These Drp1 and Opa1 double knockdown cells showed lower G2/M accumulation and a two-fold decrease in aneuploidy as compared to when Drp1 alone was knocked down (compare FIGS. 1D and 1A). These results indicate that the G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy induced in Drp1-deficient cells required mitochondrial hyperfusion.
[0101] The G2/M Cell Cycle Arrest and Aneuploidy Observed in Drp1-Deficient Cells are not Caused by Changes in Mitochondrial Energy Metabolism.
[0102] Cellular energy status has been recognized as important for cell cycle progression (Mandal et al., 2005). We therefore evaluated if the mitochondrial energy metabolism plays a role in regulating the G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy in Drp1-deficient MDA-MB-231 cells. Contrary to the previous report using HeLa cells (Parone et al., 2008), there is no depletion of total cellular ATP following Drp1 knockdown (FIG. 2A). Since changes in total intracellular ATP levels may not reflect the changes in mitochondrial metabolism in cancer cells because of the Warburg effect (Warburg et al., 1927), we undertook a detailed analysis to address whether mitochondrial function is altered in Drp1-deficient cells. We observed a slight decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential (FIG. 2B) and about a ˜25% decrease in the oxygen consumption rate (OCR) (FIG. 2C), which is accompanied with a concomitant increase in extracellular acidification rate (ECAR) (FIG. 2D), a marker of glycolysis, in Drp1-deficient cells. Consistent with these data, we observed a decreased mitochondrial contribution (indicated by lower ATP levels in the presence of 2-deoxyglucose (2DG)) (FIG. 2E), which is compensated by an increased glycolysis contribution (indicated by higher ATP levels in the presence of oligomycin) (FIG. 2F), in order to maintain total cellular ATP levels in Drp1-deficient cells. These observations indicate that loss of Drp1 in MDA-MB-231 cells reduces mitochondrial energy metabolism. ROS production due to mitochondrial dysfunction is frequently considered a cause of cellular damage and cell cycle arrest (Owusu-Ansah et al., 2008). However, we observed no increase in mitochondrial ROS generation in Drp1-deficient MDA-MB-231 cells using the mitochondrial superoxide indicator MitoSox (FIG. 2G). These results indicate that the G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy observed in Drp1-deficient cells cannot be attributed to changes in total ATP production or mitochondrially generated ROS.
[0103] To further exclude the potential role for mitochondrial energy and ROS in mediating the cell cycle defects observed in Drp1-deficient cells, we examined cell cycle progression in MDA-MB-231 ρ0 cells following knockdown of Drp1. Mitochondria in ρ0 cells do not contribute to total cellular ATP generation and are unable to produce ROS (Weinberg et al., 2010), due to a deficiency in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation that is caused by the depletion of mitochondrial DNA (Qian and Van Houten, 2010) (FIG. 2H). Loss of Drp1 in MDA-MB-231 ρ0 cells resulted in elongated mitochondria (FIG. 21), G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy (FIG. 2J), that are similar to what we observed in the parental MDA-MB-231 cells (FIG. 1A, B). Furthermore, treatment of MDA-MB-231 cells with either oligomycin, a complex V inhibitor that suppresses mitochondrial respiration, FCCP, an uncoupler that depolarizes mitochondrial membrane potential, or antimycin A, a complex III inhibitor that stimulates mitochondrial ROS production, did not induce G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy (FIG. 2K). These data further support our conclusion that the G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy observed in Drp1-deficient cells are not caused by defects in mitochondrial energy metabolism.
[0104] The G2/M Cell Cycle Arrest Observed in Drp1-Deficient Cells is not Caused by Disruptions in the Molecular Machinery that is Essential for the G2/M Cell Cycle Transition.
[0105] To investigate the mechanisms underlying the G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy observed in Drp1-deficient cells, we synchronized MDA-MB-231 cells at G2/M phase using a single thymidine block followed by nocodazole treatment (henceforth referred to as a thymidine/nocodazole block), and then monitored the changes in G2/M phase-related molecular events following the release from G2/M cell cycle block (FIG. 3A). Both control and Drp1-deficient MDA-MB-231 cells were able to be blocked at G2/M phase as shown by their 4N DNA content immediately following the thymidine/nocodazole block (FIG. 3B—0 h release). Phosphorylation of histone H3 at serine residue (Ser10) is associated with chromosome condensation and mitotic entry (Crosio et al., 2002), therefore, the phosphorylation of histone H3 is used as a marker to distinguish M phase cells from G2 phase cells, both of which contain 4N DNA content. Immediately following the thymidine/nocodazole block we observed that the levels of positive phospho-histone H3 in Drp1 knockdown cells was −10-fold lower than in control cells (FIG. 3C), even though both control and Drp1-deficient cells contained 4N DNA content. These data suggest that the accumulation of 4N DNA content in Drp1-deficient cells was largely due to the cell cycle arrest at G2 phase rather than M phase. Following the release from the G2/M block control cells rapidly entered the cell cycle such that the majority of cells were in G1 phase with 2N DNA content at 6 h (FIG. 3B). In contrast, the majority of Drp1-deficient cells were still at G2/M phase as indicated by the large fraction of cells with 4N DNA content at 6 h following release from the block (FIG. 3B). These data indicated that loss of Drp1 prevented G2 to M cell cycle transition.
[0106] To examine the integrity of molecular events associated with M phase entry, we examined the activity of maturation/mitosis-promoting factor (MPF). MPF is a heterodimeric protein composed of cyclin B and cdc2 serine/threonine kinase (Doree and Hunt, 2002). Both the accumulation of cyclin B1 and dephosphorylation of cdc2 at Tyr15 are required for the initiation of mitosis (Norbury et al., 1991). Drp1-deficient MDA-MB-231 cells were defective in the accumulation of cyclin B1 and the dephosphorylation of cdc2 at Tyr15 in response to thymidine/nocodazole block (FIG. 3D). High levels of phosphorylated cdc2 have previously been associated with effective G2/M cell cycle checkpoint activation (Lew and Kornbluth, 1996). These data indicate that Drp1 deficiency causes suppression of MPF activity and subsequent defect in mitotic entry. Cdh1 is required for the degradation of cyclin B1 and the expression pattern of cdh1 through the cell cycle is similar to that of cyclin B1 (Listovsky et al., 2004). Immediately following the release from the thymidine/nocodazole block control cells showed high levels of cyclin B1 and cdh1, which rapidly declined during the next few hours. This is in stark contrast to the Drp1 knockdown cells, which showed initially low levels of cyclin B1 and very low levels of cdh1 with high levels of phosphorylated cdc2. These Drp1 knockdown cells once released from the thymidine/nocodazole block showed a slow increase in cyclin B1 and cdh1, with a decrease in phosphorylated cdc2 (FIG. 3D). This particular pattern observed in Drp1 knockdown cells represents the slow progression through G2/M phase, which is associated with subsequent aneuploidy. These data are consistent with an induction of a G2/M cell cycle checkpoint in Drp1-deficient cells rather than a disruption in the molecular machinery that is essential for the G2/M cell cycle transition.
[0107] Loss of Drp1 Induces Chromosomal Instability and Centrosome Overamplifleation.
[0108] Aneuploidy is frequently a consequence of the chromosomal instability that is associated with defects in mitotic segregation of chromosomes (Rajagopalan and Lengauer, 2004). We observed misaligned chromosomes in metaphase, and lagging chromosomes in anaphase as Drp1-deficient cells progressed through mitosis (FIG. 4A, B). The hyperfused mitochondrial network was maintained throughout the mitosis in Drp1-deficient cells, in contrast to the fragmented mitochondrial morphology observed in control cells (FIG. 4A). These data indicate that defects in mitochondrial fission lead to the defects in chromosome segregation during mitosis. Given that Drp1-deficient cells still retained the ability to progress through mitosis (albeit at a greatly reduced rate) (FIG. 3D), such defects in chromosome segregation could give rise to aneuploidy.
[0109] Abnormal extra centrosomes are known to be associated with chromosome instability via formation of aberrant mitotic spindles (Ganem et al., 2009). Depending on the cell cycle phase, normal cells contain one or two centrosomes. We observed that Drp1-deficient cells frequently contained more than two centrosomes relative to control cells (FIGS. 4C, D and E). The Drp1-deficient cells containing extra centrosomes also showed abnormal nuclear morphology and micronuclei (FIG. 4C), a phenotype that is again indicative of chromosome instability. In images obtained from single focal plane we observed that over-amplified centrosomes were often surrounded by aggregated mitochondria, indicating that mitochondrial aggregation is associated with centrosomal abnormalities (FIG. 4D).
[0110] Loss of Drp1 Induces Mitochondrial Aggregation Around the Microtubule Organizing Center (MTOC).
[0111] Since the changes in the mitochondrial morphology per se play a direct role in mediating Drp1 deficiency-induced cell cycle defects, as demonstrated by that knockdown of mitochondrial fusion protein Opa1 reversed the G2/M arrest and aneuploidy observed in Drp1-deficient cells, we undertook a detailed analysis of mitochondrial dynamics in Drp1-deficient cells. Microtubules originate at the centrosome (the main microtubule organizing center), and are tracks for mitochondrial transportation and distribution. Since we had observed a centrosome defect in Drp1-deficient cells, we reasoned that the morphological relationship between mitochondria and microtubules might be defective in these cells. In control MDA-MB-231 cells, both the mitochondria and microtubules were observed to be widespread in the cytoplasm, and the area that contained a high concentration of microtubules indirectly marked the location of the MTOC (FIG. 5A, B). In Drp1-deficient cells we observed that mitochondria aggregated around the MTOC, with few elongated mitochondria radiating along microtubule tracks from the mitochondrial aggregates toward the peripheral regions of the cells. We propose that this morphological remodeling results from the retraction and fusion of mitochondria dispersed in peripheral region of the cytoplasm to the MTOC, and this in turn lead to mitochondrial aggregation and a large region of cytoplasm that contains no mitochondria (for example see “cell b” in FIG. 5B). It is also notable that “cell b” shows an abnormal nuclear morphology, and the micronuclei were located inside such mitochondrial aggregates. Therefore the aggregation of mitochondria around the MTOC may affect intracellular homeostasis such as Ca2+ signaling that directly contributes to the defects of centrosome duplication and other cell cycle related events (Matsumoto and Mailer, 2002).
[0112] Mitochondrial aggregates have been described as clusters of tubules rather than a large mass of coalescing membrane (Smirnova et al., 1998). However, the exact process through which the highly interconnected mitochondrial aggregates are formed is not known. We generated time-lapse movies that revealed markedly reduced mitochondrial motility and redistribution due to lack of fission in Drp1-deficient cells (FIG. 5C and supplementary material Movie 1-4). Nevertheless, mitochondria were still able to undergo some remodeling in these cells, even with the limited frequency and within the limited spatial region. For example, a branching event in Drp1-deficient cells is indicated “a” in FIG. 5D and supplementary material Movie 5. Furthermore, fusion is not limited to end-joining fusion between separate mitochondria, and can occur as a cross-fusion between branched mitochondrial tubules that make contact as shown in region “b” in FIG. 5D and supplementary material Movie 6. In this example, mitochondria underwent a morphological change from a simple fork shape to a complicated net-like structure. These preserved branching and fusion abilities in Drp1-deficient cells eventually build up a complicated mitochondrial network, which appears as mitochondrial aggregates. We believe that these examples are the paradigms that demonstrate how a vast hyperfused mitochondrial network may be generated in the condition of lack of fission.
[0113] The G2/M Cell Cycle Arrest and Aneuploidy Observed in Drp1-Deficient Cells are Consequences of Replication Stress-Initiated DNA Damage Signaling that Involves ATM/Chk2 and ATR/Chk1 Kinases.
[0114] We sought to understand the molecular mechanism that causes the G2/M arrest and aneuploidy in Drp1-deficient cells. Mitochondrial hyperfusion induced either by overexpression of mutant Drp1 (K38A) or by Drp1 inhibitor mdivi-1 has previously been associated with the onset of DNA replication and cyclin E accumulation in HCT116 and NRK cells (Mitra et al., 2009). In contrast, we observed a decrease in cyclin E levels in Drp1-deficient MDA-MB-231 cells relative to control cells (FIG. 6A—lanes 1 and 2). Cyclin E levels accumulate at the G1/S phase boundary, decline during S phase and become low or undetectable when replication is complete (Ekholm et al., 2001). To determine whether this reduction in cyclin E was a reflection of the accumulation of Drp1-deficient cells at G2/M phase, we used nocodazole to arrest both Drp1-deficient and control cells at the G2/M phase. While cyclin E was low in control cells arrested at G2/M with nocodazole, the cyclin E levels were not changed in nocodazole-treated Drp1-deficient cells (FIG. 6A—lanes 3 and 4). Thus, cyclin E is maintained at high levels in G2/M phase in Drp1-deficient cells as compared to that in control cells. These results suggest that the control of cyclin E expression is uncoupled from the cell cycle in Drp1-deficient cells. Overexpression of cyclin E can induce G2/M cell cycle arrest, aneuploidy and genomic instability (Bartkova et al., 2005; Keck et al., 2007; Spruck et al., 1999). To determine whether cyclin E is required for the G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy observed in Drp1-deficient MDA-MB-231 cells, we disrupted cyclin E using siRNA (FIG. 6B). The concurrent knockdown of cyclin E and Drp1 did not induce a G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy as compared when Drp1 alone was disrupted (FIG. 6C), suggesting that the cell cycle defects observed in Drp1-deficient cells are cyclin E-dependent.
[0115] Dysregulated cyclin E expression and decreased cyclin B/cdc2 kinase activity have been previously associated with DNA damage response and G2/M cell cycle checkpoint activation (Bartkova et al., 2005; Kastan and Bartek, 2004). We therefore examined the activities of ATM, Chk1 and Chk2, three kinases that are integral to the DNA damage response and activation of cell cycle checkpoint. In control and Drp1-deficient MDA-MB-231 cells, we observed that the activities of ATM, Chk1 and Chk2 kinases as indicated by the levels of their phosphorylation were increased in Drp1-deficient cells compared to control cells (FIG. 6D). ATM phosphorylates Chk2 and activates G2/M cell cycle checkpoint through inhibiting cdc2 kinase activity. We observed that ATM knockdown impeded the phosphorylation of Chk2 and abrogated the G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy in Drp1-deficient cells (FIG. 6D, E), suggesting ATM/Chk2-mediated signaling is required for the cell cycle defects in cells that lack mitochondrial fission.
[0116] ATR kinase-dependent phosphorylation and activation of Chk1 are central to the signal transduction axis activated by replication stress (Toledo et al., 2008). The phosphorylation of Chk1 as well as the aberrant expression of cyclin E at G2 phase observed in Drp1-deficient cells suggested that replication stress is induced by the mitochondrial hyperfusion. ATR is essential for the stability of stalled DNA replication forks (Toledo et al., 2008). As such, ATR disruption induces replication stress (Murga et al., 2009) and causes DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) to be generated at sites of stalled replication forks. We observed increased Chk2 phosphorylation and G2/M cell cycle arrest in ATR-deficient MDA-MB-231 cells, and as such ATR deficiency phenocopies Drp1 deficiency in this replication stress-mediated cell cycle arrest (FIG. 6D, E). In order to test the hypothesis that ATR deficiency would further increase the replication stress in Drp1-deficient cells we knocked down both proteins in MDA-MB-231 cells. Significantly, the knockdown of both Drp1 and ATR dramatically increased the levels of γ-H2AX (a marker of DNA damage), the cleavage of caspase-3 and the number of Annexin V-positive cells that both are associated with apoptosis (FIG. 6D, F). Thus, ATR is essential in preventing the replication stress-associated DNA damage and hence the survival of Drp1-deficient cells.

6.3 Discussion

[0117] The replication stress-mediated genome instability and cell cycle defects identified in this study revealed a novel mechanism underlying Drp1 deficiency-related cellular dysfunction. These cell cycle defects were not a result of loss of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and ATP production, but required the hyperfused state of mitochondrial morphology, as Opa1 knockdown was able to abrogate these effects. Thus, we have separated a function for Drp1 in genome stability from its potential role in mitochondrial energy metabolism. We have identified that dysregulation of cyclin E expression in G2 phase is a direct consequence of Drp1 deficiency causing replication stress and a subsequent DNA damage response that is associated with activation of ATM kinase-dependent delay of mitotic entry. Preventing ATR-mediated DNA repair signaling in response to replication stress in Drp1-deficient cells enhances DNA damage and cell death (FIG. 7). Together these data indicate that the cycles of mitochondrial fission and fusion are integrated with the cell cycle apparatus that are essential for genome stability.
[0118] Mitochondria form a highly interconnected network at the G1/S border, and the disassembly of this hyperfused network occurs when the G1/S transition process is completed (Mitra et al., 2009). This phenomenon suggests that mitochondrial fission, which is responsible for the disassembly of the hyperfused mitochondrial network, may play a significant role for the progression of following stages of the cell cycle after G1/S transition. In support of this idea, our data revealed that persistent mitochondrial hyperfusion due to loss of fission protein Drp1 is associated with aberrant accumulation of cyclin E in G2 phase when mitochondrial network was not able to be dissembled in this phase following G1/S transition. Cyclin E promotes cell cycle entry into S phase and is related with DNA replication associated functions (Ekholm and Reed, 2000). Cyclin E overexpression impacts DNA replication and leads to replication stress (Toledo et al., 2011). We observed a reduced rate of DNA replication (shown by the decrease of BrdU-positive S-phase cell) in Drp1-deficient cells (supplementary material FIG. S1A), which may reflect either a reduced rate of replication or the activation of a G1/S or intra-S phase cell cycle checkpoint. These data are consistent with previous reports that described a similar reduction in BrdU incorporation (Mitra et al., 2009; Parone et al., 2008). However, the underlying mechanism is not dependent on the depletion of mitochondrial energy as suggested in these reports that activates metabolic checkpoint, as we were not able to phenocopy Drp1 deficiency-induced cell cycle defects by pharmacological inhibition of mitochondrial energy metabolism (FIG. 2K). Rather, the reduction in the number of BrdU-positive S-phase cells in Drp1-deficient cells reflects replication stress that might be caused by either the accumulation of stalled replication forks, inefficient firing of replication origin (Liberal et al., 2011) and/or defects in pre-replication complex (preRC) assembly (Ekholm-Reed et al., 2004), phenotypes that have all been associated with cyclin E overexpression. Such cyclin E-mediated replication stress induces DNA damage and triggers the cell cycle checkpoint in G2 phase (Bartkova et al., 2005). Further, the accumulation of cyclin E is able to induce centrosome overduplication and chromosome instability (Nakayama et al., 2000; Rajagopalan et al., 2004; Spruck et al., 1999). Our results showing an increased number of centrosomes and chromosome instability in Drp1-deficient cells are consistent with these reports (FIG. 4). However, the mechanism underlying Drp1 deficiency-mediated alterations in mitochondrial dynamics and cyclin E dysregulation is unknown.
[0119] Our results revealed that as a consequence of replication stress in Drp1-deficient cells, ATR/Chk1 and ATM/Chk2 DNA damage signaling cascades are activated (FIG. 6D). A major cellular defense against DNA damage and control of cell cycle transition and cell death is a signaling network known as the DNA damage response (DDR) that is largely regulated by the ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and ATM- and Rad3-related (ATR). Cyclin E dysregulation-induced abnormalities in DNA replication are known inducers of the ATR/Chk1 cascade (Kastan and Bartek, 2004). ATR kinase activity is increased by single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). ssDNA accumulates at stalled replication forks that may arise as a consequence of replication stress (Cimprich and Cortez, 2008). Persistent replication stress can lead to the generation of DNA DSBs when stalled replication forks are subject to nucleolytic attack. ATM kinase activity is then increased by DNA DSBs and the subsequent G2/M cell cycle checkpoint is induced. It is noteworthy that knockdown of ATM prevented both G2/M arrest and aneuploidy in Drp1-deficient cells (FIG. 6E), indicating that these cell cycle defects are dependent on ATM-mediated DNA damage signaling. ATM and ATR share many of the numerous substrates that promote cell cycle arrest and DNA repair. However, one of the best established roles of ATR that is not shared by ATM is preventing the collapse of stalled replication forks in generating DSBs (Cimprich and Cortez, 2008). Thus, ATR should attenuate DSBs and subsequent ATM kinase activity under conditions that induce replication stress. Our results showed that ATR kinase inhibition by knockdown of ATR in Drp1-deficient cells enhanced phosphorylation of H2AX and apoptosis. This increase in DNA damage and cell death is considered as the consequence of Drp1 deficiency-related replication stress under the condition of in the absence of ATR. This finding is reminiscent of the increased DNA damage and cell death when cells overexpressing cyclin E were treated with an ATR kinase inhibitor (Toledo et al., 2011). Since ATR activity is restricted to S and G2 phase (Toledo et al., 2011), these data further suggest that the direct impact of Drp1 disruption occurs in these phases. Moreover, centrosome overduplication requires functional G2/M checkpoint (Inanc et al., 2010), and ATM is also involved in initiating the signaling that regulates centrosome reduplication upon DNA damage (Fukasawa, 2007).
[0120] Mitochondrial fission is required for inheritance and partitioning of mitochondria during cell division (Westermann, 2010). Inhibiting Drp1-mediated mitochondrial fission has been reported to cause accumulation of mutant mtDNA (Malena et al., 2009). Our results provided the first evidence that mitochondrial dynamics are involved in initiating mitochondria-to-nucleus retrograde signaling, in order to ensure proper mitochondrial inheritance by enforcing cell cycle delay upon detection of abnormal mitochondrial morphology. One of the important roles of mitochondrial hyperfusion at G1/S border is postulated to allow homogenization of mitochondrial matrix and mtDNA. After G1/S transition is completed, mitochondrial fission has to take place during S G2 and M phase to ensure daughter cells inherit even and healthy mitochondria. When mitochondrial fission is impaired, the activation of G2/M cell cycle checkpoint thus allows more time for cells to fragment their mitochondria in preventing unequal segregation of mitochondria and mtDNA.
[0121] From a broader perspective, the genomic instability that we have identified in this study as a result of Drp1 deficiency may help explain why disruption of Drp1 induces lethality (Ishihara et al., 2009; Labrousse et al., 1999; Waterham et al., 2007) and cellular senescence (Yoon et al., 2006). Since replication stress has been observed in human precancerous lesions (Gorgoulis et al., 2005), alterations in mitochondrial dynamics may also play a significant role in cancer etiology. Finally, our data support a novel anti-cancer strategy wherein concurrent targeting of the mitochondrial dynamics protein and the DNA repair machinery involved in the repair of replication stress-induced DNA damage might provide more efficient cancer cell killing.

6.4. References

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7. EXAMPLE 2

Anti-Tumor Activity of Mdivi-1, Alone and in Combination with Cisplatin

[0180] The effect of Drp1 inhibition on the cell cycle was tested. Cells were transfected with control or Drp1 siRNA for 72 and 96 hours, and then were stained with P1 and their DNA contents measured by flow cytometry. The percentage of cells in G2/M stage and the percentage of cells containing DNA content>4N (which indicates aneuploidy) were quantified. Analogous studies were performed using, instead of siRNA, the Drp1 inhibitor, mdivi-1, at a concentration of 50 μM for 24 and 48 hours. The results of siRNA and mdivi-1 inhibition, respectively, are shown in FIGS. 10A and 10B, which show that inhibition of Drp1 by these agents induces G2/M cell cycle arrest and aneuploidy.
[0181] The effect of Drp1 inhibition of chromosome stability was then evaluated. MDA-MB-231 cells that have been engineered to stably express a mitochondrial marker protein pAcGFP-1-mito were treated with mdivi-1 for 7 hours. Mitotic cells were selected for examining the morphology of their chromosomes and mitotic spindles. Chromosomes were visualized by DAPI, and mitotic spindles were visualized by staining cells with Alex-Fluor 555-conjugated anti-β tubulin antibody. The results are shown in FIG. 11; two representative mitotic figures are shown.
[0182] To test the effect of Drp1 inhibition on tumor cells, MDA-MB-231 cells were plated in black 96-well plates and treated with various concentrations of mdivi-1. Cell numbers were measured by CyQUANT assay every day. As shown if FIG. 12, continuous exposure to mdivi-1 alone inhibited the growth of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner.
[0183] To test the effect of Drp-1 inhibition on the effectiveness of cisplatin, in a first series of experiments, MDA-MB-231 cells were transfected with control or Drp1 siRNA, and 48 hours later were then treated with 40 μM of cisplatin for a 24 hour period. The effect of different concentrations of cisplatin on the Drp1 knockdown cells is shown in FIG. 13A, where the subG1 portion in the cell cycle profile indicates cytotoxicity. In a second series of experiments, a LIVE/DEAD Viability/Cytotoxicity kit (Invitrogen) was used to evaluate the effect of inhibition of Drp1 by mdivi-1 on cisplatin cytotoxicity. In this test, the percentage of lice and dead cells are determined simultaneously with two probes, calcein AM and ethidium homodimer (EthD-1). The nonfluorescent cell-permeant calcein AM is converted to the intensely green fluorescent calcein by ubiquitous intracellular esterase only present in live cells. EthD-1 is excluded by the intact plasma membrane of live cells but is able to enter cells with damaged membranes and undergo a 40-fold enhancement of red fluorescence upon binding to nucleic acids. MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with various concentrations of cisplatin in the presence of DMSO or 50 μM mdivi-1 for 12 hours. Cells were then trypsinized and suspended in HBSS containing 1% BSA. Calcein AM and EthD-1 were added to the cell suspension at final concentrations of 0.1 μM and 8 μM, respectively, Fluorescence intensity was analyzed on a CyAn ADP Analyzer (Beckman Coulter, Brea, Calif.) and the results were analyzed using Summit software. The live-cell population that was positively stained with calcein was detected in the bottom right region and indicated with an arrow. The dead cell population that is positively stained with EthD-1 was detected in the upper left region. The results are shown in FIG. 13B. In a third set of experiments, MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with 40 μM of cisplatin alone, 50 μM of mdivi-1 alone, or a combination of 40 μM of cisplatin and 50 μM of mdivi-1 for various time points. The activation of caspase-2, caspase-9 and caspase-3 were then detected by Western Blot. The results are shown in FIG. 13C.
[0184] To explore this effect further, MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with DMSO as a vehicle control, 50 μM of cisplatin, 50 μM of mdivi-1, or 50 μM of cisplatin plus 50 μM of mdivi-1 for 2 hours. The cells were then washed with growth media and plated in black 96-well plates. Survivals were measured by CyQUANT assay. Data represent mean±SD. n=4 wells. The results, as shown in FIG. 14, show that short time exposure (2 h) to mdivi-1 in combination with cisplatin had a synergistic effect in decreasing the survival of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. The action of mdivi-1 alone in such exposure condition was found to be reversible.
[0185] To evaluate whether the synergistic effects of Drp1 inhibition and cisplatin could be extended to other types of cancer cells, breast cancer cells MDA-MB-231, non-small cell lung carcinoma cells H1299, and glioblastoma cells LN428 were treated with various combinations of cisplatin and mdivi-1 at indicated concentrations. After continuous exposure for 20 hours, cell death was determined by measuring the activity of caspase 3/7. The luminescence value that indicates the activity of caspase 3/7 for each combination was plotted on a 3D bar chart using SigmaPlot. As shown in FIG. 15A-C, synergistic cell killing was observed between mdivi-1 and cisplatin in various types of cancer cells. Single compound exposure was found to have minimal effect in inducing cell death in these cells.

8. EXAMPLE 3

Mdivi-1 Solubility is Enhanced by Carrier Compounds

[0186] Experiments were performed to test the effect of the carrier compounds HSA and cyclodextrin on the solubility of mdivi-1.
[0187] In a first set of experiments, Mdivi-1 dissolved in DMSO was used as stock solution. HSA-bound mdivi-1 was prepared by diluting 50 mM stocks in DMSO with 15% HSA in 0.85% sodium chloride (Sigma) such that the final concentration of mdivi-1 is 1 mM and the final molar ratio of mdivi-1 to HSA is 1:2.25. HSA-bound cisplatin was prepared by combining equal volume of 2 mM cisplatin in 0.85% sodium chloride with 30% HSA in 0.85% sodium chloride (molar ratio of cisplatin to HSA is 1:2.25), and followed by incubation in the dark at 37 degree for overnight (16-20 h). MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with HSA-bound mdivi-1 and/or HSA-bound cisplatin continuously for 48 h, and cell death was determined by western blot using antibody against activated caspase-3.
[0188] The results of these experiments indicate that human serum albumin can be used as an effective vehicle to improve the solubility of mdivi-1 for intravenous injection purpose, and also enhances the tumor specificity of mdivi-1. As shown in FIG. 16, human serum albumin (HSA)-bound mdivi-1 enhanced the toxicity of HSA-bound cisplatin. Enhanced solubility of mdivi-1 by HSA is possibly mediated through the hydrophobic binding activity of HSA. HSA is also taken up by tumor cells at increased levels in comparison to normal cells, therefore, binding of mdivi-1 with HSA is expected to enhance the tumor-specific targeting. In addition, albumin is a major serum protein that cisplatin binds after intravenous infusion, however albumin-bound cisplatin is not as effective as free cisplatin. We have found that HSA-bound mdivi-1 is not only able to enhance the activity of free cisplatin, it also enhances the activity of HSA-bound cisplatin.
[0189] In a second set of experiments, Mdivi-1 dissolved in DMSO was used as stock solution. Mdivi-1 of 50 mM stocks in DMSO was diluted with 40% 2-Hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin/PBS. The final concentration of this formulation of mdivi-1 is 1 mM. MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with HP-β-CD, cisplatin, mdivi-1 alone or in combination in the presence of HP-β-CD as indicated above. After continuous exposure for 20 h, cell death was determined by measuring the activity of caspase 3/7. As shown in FIG. 17, the results of these experiments indicate that 2-Hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HP-β-CD) can be used to improve the solubility of mdivi-1, and maintain the synergistic cell killing effect with the combination of mdivi-1 and cisplatin. Data represent mean±SD. n=4 wells.

9. EXAMPLE 4

Synergistic Pro-Apoptotic Effect of Mdivi-1 and Mdivi-1 Analogs in Combination with Platinum Agents

9.1 Materials and Methods

[0190] Cell Culture.
[0191] The human breast carcinoma cell line MDA-MB-231, non-small cell lung carcinoma H1299 were obtained from American Type Culture Collection (ATCC). LN-428 glioblastoma cells were kindly provided by Dr. Robert W. Sobol (University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute). Cal33 head and neck cancer cells were kindly provided by Dr. Jennifer R. Grandis (University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute). 983A melanoma cells were kindly provided by Dr. Stergios J. Moschos (University of North Carolina). Cisplatin sensitive ovarian cancer cells A2780 and their cisplatin resistant derivative cells A2780cis were obtained from Sigma-Aldrich (St. Louis, Mo.). Bax/Bak WT and double knockout MEF cells were established by Dr. Stanley J. Korsmeyer, and kindly provided by Dr. Shivendra Singh (University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute). Drp1 WT and knockout MEF cells were established by Dr. Katsuyoshi Mihara, and kindly provided by Dr. Kasturi Mitra (University of Alabama). Cells were cultured in either RPMI 1640 or DMEM media supplemented with 10% heat-inactivated fetal calf serum and 1% penicillin-streptomycin in 5% CO2 at 37° C. Ovarian cancer patient ascites were obtained under an IRB protocol, IRB0406147, approved by the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. Primary epithelial ovarian cancer cells (EOC) presented in those ascites were isolated and cultured as described previously [32].
[0192] Plasmid, siRNA and Transfection.
[0193] pDsRed2-Mito plasmid was obtained from Clontech (Palo Alto, Calif.), and Noxa specific siRNA was obtained from Dharmacon (Lafayette, Colo.). DNA transfection was performed using FuGENE 6 (Roche Diagnostics, Indianapolis, Ind.) and siRNA transfection was performed using oligofectamine (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, Calif.) according to the manufacture's instructions.
[0194] Reagents.
[0195] Mdivi-1 and its analogs were obtained from Sigma-Aldrich and Key Organics Ltd (Camelford, Cornwall, UK). Other reagents, unless specified, were from Sigma-Aldrich.
[0196] Cell Proliferation and Cytotoxicity Assay.
[0197] Cell proliferation was determined using a CyQUANT Direct Cell Proliferation Assay kit (Invitrogen), the activity of caspase-3/7 was measured using a Caspase-Glo 3/7 Assay Systems (Promega, Madison, Wis.), and the MTS colorimetric survival assay was performed using the CellTiter 96 AQueous One Solution Cell Proliferation Assay kit (Promega, Madison, Wis.), according to the manufacturer's instructions. The survival fractions were calculated after setting untreated control cells at 100%. The data were plotted and curve fitted using GraphPad Prism software. The cytotoxic interactions between the two drugs was determined using the method of Chou and Talalay [17]. The combination index (CI) was determined using a computer program CompuSyn. A CI<1 indicates synergy, CI 1 indicates antagonism, and CI=1 indicates additivity. To quantify the number of cells with active caspase-3, cells were fixed with 4% paraformaldehyde (Electron microscopy sciences, Hatfield, Pa.), stained with Alexa Fluor-488 conjugated antibody against cleaved caspase-3 (Asp175) (Cell Signaling Technology, Danvers, Mass.) followed by flow cytometry. An FITC Annexin V Apoptosis Detection Kit (BD PharMingen, San Diego, Calif.) was used to quantify apoptotic cells, according to the manufacturer's instructions.
[0198] Cell Cycle Analysis.
[0199] Cells were treated with 20 μM cisplatin, 20 μM mdivi-1, or the combination of 20 μM cisplatin and 20 μM mdivi-1 for 20 h. S phase cells were then pulse-labeled with 10 μM BrdU for 30 min at 37° C. Cells were trypsinized, fixed in 70% ice-cold ethanol, and incubated overnight at 4° C. DNA was denatured in 2 N HCl containing 0.5% Triton X-100, and neutralized with 0.1 M Na2B4O7. Cells were then stained with FITC-labeled anti-BrdU antibody (BD Biosciences, San Jose, Calif.). To determine the number of cells in mitosis, cells were then stained with Alexa Fluor 647-conjugated phospho-Histone H3 (Ser 10) antibody (Cell signaling technology). To measure DNA content, cells were incubated in PI solution (PBS containing 50 μg/ml of PI and 40 μg/ml of RNase A) for 30 min at room temperature. Samples were analyzed on a CyAn ADP Analyzer (Beckman Coulter, Brea, Calif.). Data were analyzed using Summit software.
[0200] ATP Measurement.
[0201] Total cellular ATP content was determined using a luminescent ATP detection kit, ATPlite (PerkinElmer Life Sciences, Boston, Mass.), according to the manufacturer's instruction. The luminescence intensity was measured using a microplate reader, Synergy 2 (BioTek instruments, Winooski, Vt.).
[0202] Extracellular Flux (XF) Analysis.
[0203] Oxygen consumption rate (OCR) and extracellular acidification rate (ECAR) were measured using a Seahorse XF24 Extracellular Flux Analyzer (Seahorse Bioscience, North Billerica, Mass.), as previously described [33]. Cells were seeded in XF24 cell culture plates at 4×104 cells/well and incubated in 5% CO2 at 37° C. Prior to the analysis, cells were washed and growth medium was replaced with bicarbonate-free medium. Cells were then incubated for another 60 min in a 37° C. incubator without CO2, followed by simultaneous OCR and ECAR measurements.
[0204] Mitochondrial Membrane Potential and ROS Generation.
[0205] To measure mitochondrial membrane potential and intracellular generation of ROS, cells were incubated with 50 nM of TMRM (Invitrogen) and 10 μM DCF-DA (Sigma) for 20 min at 37° C. after drug exposure. To measure mitochondrial generated ROS, cells were pre-incubated with 5 μM of MitoSox (Invitrogen) for 30 min at 37° C. then followed by drug exposure. After wash with PBS, cells were trypsinized and suspended in HBSS containing 1% BSA. The fluorescence intensity of TMRM, DCF, and MitoSox were analyzed using a CyAn ADP Analyzer (Beckman Coulter, Brea, Calif.) or an Accuri C6 flow cytometer (BD Accuri Cytometers, Ann Arbor, Mich.).
[0206] Western Blot Analysis.
[0207] Whole cell lysate was prepared by lysing cells in cell lysis buffer (Cell signaling technology) containing complete protease inhibitor (Roche). Cell lysates were then cleared at 15,000 rpm for 15 min at 4° C. To determine the extent of cytochrome c release, cells were permeabilized using 50 μg/ml digitonin in PBS containing complete protease inhibitor on ice for 10 min, and then the cytosolic fraction and heavy membrane fraction were separated by centrifugation at 4,000×g for 5 min at 4° C. The protein content was quantified using a Bio-Rad Protein Assay kit (Bio-Rad Laboratories, Hercules, Calif.). The equal amount of protein was separated on Tris-glycine gels (Invitrogen). The separated proteins were blotted onto a polyvinylidene difluoride membrane and blocked overnight at 4° C. in phosphate-buffered saline containing 0.1% Tween 20 and 10% nonfat dry milk (blocking buffer). Membranes were incubated with primary antibodies in blocking buffer overnight at 4° C. Primary antibodies used were: Drp1 and Cytochrome c from BD Biosciences; β-actin and ATM from Sigma; Chk1, phospho-Chk2 (Thr68), Chk2, Mcl-1, Bax, Bak, Bid, Puma, Bik, Bcl-xL, Caspase-9 and cleaved Caspase-3 from Cell Signaling Technology; phospho-Chk1 (Ser317) from R&D systems; phospho-ATM (S1981) from Epitomics; phospho-Histone H2AX (Ser 139) and Noxa from Millipore; Complex IV subunit I from MitoSciences. Membranes were then washed and incubated in peroxidase conjugated anti-rabbit IgG (Sigma) or anti-mouse IgG (Sigma) secondary antibody for h at room temperature. Membranes were developed using SuperSignal West Femto Maximum Sensitivity Substrate (Thermo Fisher Scientific).
[0208] Immunofluorescence.
[0209] Cells grown on cover slides were fixed with 4% paraformaldehyde in PBS for 15 min at 37° C. After wash with PBS, cells were mounted with VECTASHIELD mounting medium containing DAPI (Vector Laboratories, Burlingame, Calif.). Confocal images were captured using a laser-scanning confocal microscope, Olympus FLUOVIEW FV-1000, with a PlanApo N 60× oil immersion objective, NA=1.42 (Olympus).
[0210] Electron Microscopy.
[0211] Cells cultured in 35 mm culture dishes were fixed with 2.5% glutaraldehyde in PBS for 1 hour at room temperature, and post-fixed for 1 hour at 4° C. in 1% OsO4 with 1% K3Fe(CN)6. After dehydration and embedding, ultrathin (70 nm) sections were cut and mounted onto copper grids. Sections were stained with 2% uranyl acetate followed by 1% lead citrate, and imaged using a JEOL JEM 1011 transmission electron microscope (Peabody, Mass.) at 80 kV. Digital images were taken on an AMT 2K digital camera (AMT, Danvers, Mass.).

9.2 Results

[0212] Identification of Cisplatin as an Agent Whose Efficacy is Specifically Enhanced by Mdivi-1.
[0213] We have shown previously that mdivi-1 induces genome instability in several types of cancer cells including MDA-MB-231 breast carcinoma cells [9]. MDA-MB-231 cells are hormone receptor- and ERBB2-negative “triple negative” and multidrug resistant [16]. Currently no tailored therapy exists for such type of cancer [8]. We therefore used MDAMB-231 cells as a model to identify chemotherapeutic agents that when combined with mdivi-1 are able to reverse the drug resistance in these cells. By using a caspase-3/7 activity assay, we tested the effect of combining mdivi-1 with a series of clinically highly significant drugs with disparate actions, and found that cisplatin is a unique agent whose effect can be greatly enhanced by mdivi-1 (FIG. 18).
[0214] Combination of Cisplatin and Mdivi-1 Produces Synergistic Pro-Apoptotic Effect in Multidrug Resistant Tumor Cells.
[0215] We then performed a thorough characterization of the combination effect of cisplatin and mdivi-1. Mdivi-1 alone inhibited the growth of MDA-MB-231 cells with an IC50 of 55.93±1.92 μM (FIG. 19A). The IC50 of cisplatin for MDA-MB-231 cells is 14.29+1.03 μM (FIG. 19B). In the presence of mdivi-1, the survival curve was shifted towards the left dose-dependently compared to cisplatin alone treatment (FIG. 19B), indicating that mdivi-1 is able to enhance the efficacy of cisplatin and reduce the doses of effective cisplatin into low micromolar range. The nature of the interactions between cisplatin and mdivi-1 was further evaluated based on the median-effect principle of Chou and Talalay [17]. The value of the combination index (CI), which is 0.42 for the drugs combined at their IC50 and 0.18 at 0.5 fold of their IC50 (FIG. 19C), indicated that the combination produces a synergistic anti-proliferative effect.
[0216] Furthermore, a two-hour exposure of cells to the combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 dramatically decreased cell number within 24 h (70% reduction compared to cisplatin alone treatment) (FIG. 19D), indicating rapid induction of cell death. This is in sharp contrast to the two-hour exposure of cells to cisplatin alone, which only slightly slowed down cell growth. Cleavage of caspase-3 was then used to quantify apoptotic cell death.
[0217] A 20 h treatment with the combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 at 1:1 ratio at 20 μM or higher triggered a dramatic increase in the number of apoptotic cells (FIG. 19E). It is also noteworthy that the synergism we observed in MDA-MB-231 cells is highly significant compared to certain known platinum-based combinations, as those cells are also resistant to the combination of cisplatin with promising molecular targeted strategies such as inhibition of ATR and PARP (FIGS. 26A and B).
[0218] The synergistic effect was also demonstrated by a dose matrix response assay in MDAMB-231 cells and other types of cisplatin-resistant cancer cells such as non-small cell lung carcinoma H1299 cells (FIGS. 15A and B), glioblastoma, head and neck, and melanoma cells (FIG. 27 and FIG. 15C). Furthermore, another platinum analog carboplatin was also found to have similar combination effect with mdivi-1 (FIG. 28). We also found that the combination effect is not dependent on p53 status of the cells (FIG. 29).
[0219] The Combination of Cisplatin and Mdivi-1 Efficiently Overcomes Acquired Cisplatin Resistance in Human Ovarian Cancer Cells Including Those from Endstage Cisplatin- and Treatment-Refractory Patient.
[0220] In addition to the intrinsic cisplatin resistance examined above, acquired cisplatin resistance is also a major obstacle to successful platinum-based therapy. We therefore tested the combination on ovarian cancer cell model with acquired cisplatin resistance using cisplatin-sensitive A2780 and the derivative cisplatin-resistant A2780cis cells (left panel of FIG. 20A). Notably, A2780cis is also cross-resistant to melphalan, adriamycin and irradiation. Similar as we observed in FIG. 20B, mdivi-1 greatly increased cisplatin efficacy in A2780cis cells (right panel of FIG. 20A). Ovarian cancer patients with ascites are more frequently platinum resistant than patients without ascites [18]. The ex vivo drug sensitivity assay using tumor cells isolated from patient ascites is capable of predicting outcomes of patients and assisting oncologists in making treatment decision selecting assay-sensitive agents [19]. We thus tested the effect of the combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 on primary epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) cells derived from patient ascites fluids. In FIG. 3B, primary EOC cells were isolated from the ascites of a patient who had not been treated with cisplatin but showed relative resistance to cisplatin (IC50≈7.97 μM). In FIG. 20C, primary EOS cells were isolated from a patient who had developed clinically-defined cisplatin resistance due to previous treatments (IC50≈11.64 μM). Both the caspase-3/7 activity assay and MTS assay revealed that the combination with mdivi-1 dramatically enhanced cisplatin efficacy (FIGS. 20B and C). It is also noteworthy that the doses of cisplatin we tested in our ex vivo analysis are clinically relevant, since they are in the range achievable by intraperitoneal cisplatin administration [20, 21]. Intraperitoneal administration has been shown to increase patient survival compared with intravenous administration, as peritoneal cavity is the main site of disease in ovarian cancer [21].
[0221] Mdivi-1 Enhances Cisplatin Sensitivity Through Drp1-Independent Mechanisms.
[0222] To investigate whether the synergistic effect of the combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 is dependent on the inhibition of Drp1 by mdivi-1, we evaluated the combination effect on Drp1 wild-type (WT) and knockout (KO) SV40-transformed MEF cells (FIG. 21A).
[0223] Surprisingly, after treatment with the combination, both Drp1 WT and KO cells showed similar increase in apoptosis (FIG. 21B), indicating the synergism is Drp1-independent. We also identified other Drp1-independent effects of mdivi-1, including inhibition of cell proliferation (FIG. 21C) and mitochondrial respiration (FIG. 21D). We further evaluated the combination effect of cisplatin with a series of mdivi-1 analogs (i.e., mdivi-1 related compounds, e.g., compounds B-F) that have been reported to have differential potency in inhibiting Drp1 (FIGS. 21E and F). Compound B was reported to have full efficacy as mdivi-1 (compound A) in inhibiting Drp1 [10], but our caspase-3/7 activity assay showed that compound B only had limited effect when combined with cisplatin in enhancing apoptosis, indicating that while the i-Propyl group does not affect the efficacy on Drp1 inhibition, this group diminishes the potential for the synergism with cisplatin. Compounds C and D were described both as having moderate efficacy in inhibiting Drp1. However, we found that only compound D when combined with cisplatin had similar activity as compared to mdivi-1. Blocking SH group with methyl in compound F abolished the synergism with cisplatin, indicating the SH group is necessary for both inhibiting Drp1 and the synergism with cisplatin. Thus, the structure activity relationship (SAR) of mdivi-1 and analogs with respect to the synergism with cisplatin is not consistent with the SAR for inhibiting Drp1. Without being bound to a particular theory, these data indicate that midiv-1 enhances cisplatin efficacy through Drp1-independent mechanisms.
[0224] Mdivi-1 Inhibits DNA Replication and its Combination with Cisplatin Enhances Replication Stress Leading to Efficient G2 Phase Arrest of the Cell Cycle.
[0225] Since one of the crucial mechanisms of cisplatin-induced cell death is through replication stress-related DNA damage, we examined the DNA damage response following combination treatment. Chk1, Chk2, and ATM were phosphorylated in response to cisplatin alone (FIG. 22A). However, the combination with mdivi-1 preferentially induced dose-dependent increased phosphorylation of Chk1 (FIG. 22A), suggesting that the enhanced replication stress is an early event upon combination treatment. Notably, mdivi-1 alone at 50 μM also induced activation of Chk1 that is similar to the effect of 20 μM cisplatin alone. This indicates that mdivi-1 alone interferes with replication, and its combination with cisplatin triggers a synergistic induction of replication stress. We then analyzed the effect of the combination on cell cycle. After 20 h treatment, cisplatin alone abolished the uptake of BrdU (FIG. 22B), and rather than a G2 arrest as reported previously [22], the majority of cells accumulated in the next round of G1 phase. In contrast, the combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 resulted in an increase of G2 phase cells (30.75% compared to 18.97% in cells treated with cisplatin alone). Despite a slight decrease in the number of S phase cells following mdivi-1 treatment (44.23% compared to 50.84% in DMSO-treated cells) (FIG. 22C), the amount of BrdU that was incorporated into DNA (BrdU intensity) was substantially decreased (FIG. 22D), further indicating that mdivi-1 has direct and profound impact on DNA replication. Thus, the enhanced replication stress by the combination during S phase caused a more efficient G2 arrest. DNA strand breaks are also enhanced, as shown by the high level of γ-H2AX in the combination-treated cells (FIG. 22E).
[0226] The Combination of Cisplatin and Mdivi-1 Preferentially Upregulates Noxa and Enhances Subsequent Mitochondrial Apoptotic Signaling.
[0227] Activation of mitochondria-initiated intrinsic apoptotic signaling by cisplatin-induced DNA damage is one of the best understood mechanisms of cisplatin action [2]. We thus focused on the role of mitochondrial pathway in the combination-induced apoptosis. Caspase-9 was cleaved only upon the combination treatment (FIG. 23A). There was also a time-dependent release of cytochrome c from mitochondria (FIG. 23B), indicating the occurrence of MOMP. We then analyzed the expression of several anti-apoptotic as well as pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins. We found that the pro-apoptotic BH3-only protein Noxa was specifically and highly induced upon combination treatment (FIG. 23C), which was accompanied with the cleavage of its binding partner Mcl-1 (FIG. 23C). Cycloheximide treatment revealed that the increased level of Noxa is not due to posttranslational regulation (FIG. 23D). Knockdown of Noxa reduced the release of cytochrome c and the cleavage of caspase-9 and -3 (FIG. 23E). However, the relative high knockdown efficiency of Noxa, in conjunction with the relative small reduction in cytochrome c release and caspase cleavage, suggested the activation of an additional pathway that triggers MOMP.
[0228] The Combination of Cisplatin and Mdivi-1 Enhances MOMP Bypassing Bax/Bakdependent Mechanism.
[0229] Noxa promotes MOMP through Bax or Bak-mediated mechanisms [23]. Mdivi-1 has been shown to prevent MOMP through a Bax/Bak-dependent pathway by inhibiting Drp1 [10]. Loss of both Bax and Bak was known to lead to complete resistance to cisplatin [15]. In order to understand the role of Bax and Bak in the activation of MOMP induced by the combination, we employed Bax/Bak double knockout (DKO) SV40-transformed MEF cells. In agreement with the previous report [15], loss of both Bax and Bak rendered MEF cells resistant to cisplatin (FIG. 24A), as evidenced by the absence of cleavage of caspase-9 and -3 following 20 h treatment of cisplatin alone in Bax/Bak double knockout cells. However unexpectedly, the combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 induced the cleavage of caspase-9 and -3 in both Bax/Bak WT and DKO cells within 8 h (FIGS. 24B and C). Furthermore, similar number of Annexin V-positive apoptotic cells (FIG. 24D) and the release of cytochrome c (FIG. 24E) were observed in both Bax/Bak WT and DKO cells following the combination treatment.
[0230] Mdivi-1 Causes Mitochondrial Dysfunction and its Combination with Cisplatin Induces Mitochondrial Swelling that Triggers Bax/Bak-Independent MOMP.
[0231] In order to understand the nature of the Bax/Bak-independent MOMP triggered by the combination, we performed a detailed analysis on mitochondrial function. No changes in intracellular ATP levels were observed in both combination and drug alone treated cells (FIG. 25A). Mdivi-1 alone suppressed mitochondrial respiration (FIG. 25B), which is consistent with the result shown in FIG. 25D. Following combination treatment, oxygen consumption rate (OCR) was decreased but maintained at higher level than in mdivi-1 treated cells (FIG. 25B). Also, the combination-treated cells did not respond to oligomycin, indicating significant proton leak and mitochondrial uncoupling (FIG. 25B). Both mdivi-1 and the combination treatment enhanced the extracellular acidification rate (ECAR) (FIG. 25C), further indicating mitochondrial dysfunction that caused the shift of cellular energy production from mitochondria to glycolysis. We observed a large increase in mitochondrial membrane potential only upon combination treatment (FIG. 25D), which can be prevented by uncoupler FCCP (FIG. 25E). We also observed an enhanced production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) after combination treatment (FIGS. 25F and G). Furthermore, fluorescence (FIG. 25H) and electron microscopy (FIG. 25I) revealed that the combination treatment led to increased mitochondrial size and loss of mitochondrial matrix density, indicating pronounced mitochondrial swelling, regardless of the status of Bax and Bak. Without being bound to a particular theory, these observations suggest that mitochondrial swelling and subsequent physical rupture of mitochondrial outer membrane contribute to the induction of Bax/Bak-independent MOMP in response to the combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1. Since Bax/Bak-dependent MOMP is required for the action of cisplatin alone, the ability of the combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 in inducing MOMP in a Bax/Bakindependent manner appears to be crucial in overcoming cisplatin resistance.

9.3 Discussion

[0232] Despite the extensive efforts that have been made to understand the complex mechanism underlying cellular resistance to platinum-based anticancer drugs, to date, overcoming this type of drug resistance by pharmacological manipulation still represents a major clinical challenge. In this study, we have discovered that mdivi-1, a thioquinazolinone compound, when combined with cisplatin is able to efficiently overcome platinum drug resistance. We also revealed novel mode of action of mdivi-1, which manifested as inhibition of DNA replication and mitochondrial respiration. The combined effect of cisplatin and mdivi-1 leads to induction of Bax- and Bak-independent MOMP, proceeding strong activation of mitochondrial apoptotic cascade. Thus, mdivi-1 and its derivative thioquinazolinone compounds represent a novel class of agents for platinum drug based combination therapies.
[0233] Mdivi-1 inhibits DNA replication leading to replication stress. The combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 thus synergistically provokes robust replication stress-mediated signaling events, which include a more efficient G2 cell cycle arrest. G2 arrest has been shown required for engaging cell death and is thus related with cisplatin sensitivity [24, 25].
[0234] Cisplatin-DNA lesions activate DNA damage response, which eventually leads to permeabilization of the outer mitochondrial membrane via activation of the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members including Bax and Bak [15]. Abrogation of mitochondrial apoptotic pathway is related with acquired multidrug resistance [26]. Noxa, a member of the pro-apoptotic BH3-only Bcl-2 protein family, can be induced by cisplatin [27], and promotes MOMP through Bax or Bak-mediated mechanisms [23]. The level of Noxa has been shown to be a central determinant of hypersensitivity to cisplatin in testicular germ cell tumors [28]. In addition, induction of Noxa is able to enhance the sensitivity of ovarian cancer cells to cisplatin [29]. Our results showed that the selective induction of Noxa is a key event for the enhanced activation of mitochondrial apoptotic signaling by the combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1. The induction of Noxa by the combination seemed to be a result of increased DNA damage response through a p53-independent mechanism, as H1299 cells have a p53-null background. Though mdivi-1 has been shown to block tBid-activated and Bax/Bak-mediated MOMP by inhibiting Drp1 [10], the selective induction of Noxa is able to bypass the inhibitory effect of mdivi-1 on Drp1-related MOMP, and thus contribute to the enhancement of MOMP induced by the combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1.
[0235] While Noxa plays important roles in the induction of MOMP, Noxa-mediated pathway is not a sole determinant for the combination-induced apoptosis, indicating the combination of cisplatin and mdivi-1 overcomes cisplatin resistance through targeting multiple mechanisms. We found that mdivi-1 is able to inhibit mitochondrial respiration and enhance extracellular acidification. Cisplatin is also known to inhibit the enzymatic activities of mitochondrial electron transport chain and cause depletion of mitochondrial reduced equivalents [30]. When cisplatin and mdivi-1 are combined, we observed a hyperpolarization of mitochondria, which was accompanied with mitochondrial uncoupling and generation of ROS. During apoptosis the closure of voltage-dependent anion channels (VDAC) was proposed to be related with the mitochondrial hyperpolarization, which is then followed by osmotic imbalance, physical rupture of mitochondrial outer membrane and consequent release of IMS proteins [31]. Consistent with this model, we observed extensive mitochondrial swelling and subsequent cytochrome c release independent of Bax and Bak following combination treatment.
[0236] In platinum resistant tumors, both cisplatin and mdivi-1 provoke apoptotic signaling to the extent that by each compound alone is not able to achieve efficient cell killing. In combination however they act in a complementary manner on the induction of MOMP by simultaneous targeting two crucial mechanisms of cisplatin action through inhibiting both DNA replication and mitochondrial function to amplify apoptotic signaling, thus producing synthetic lethal effects. This mechanism is able to bypass Bax- and Bakmediated pathway, whose deficiencies are often seen in platinum resistant tumors. The “dual-targeting” mechanism of our combination strategy thus confers superior proapoptotic activity than conventional chemosensitizers that target mostly on single mechanism such as blocking DNA repair enzymes to enhance DNA damage.

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[0270] Various publications are cited herein, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entireties herein. Various nucleic acid and amino acid sequence accession numbers are cited herein, and the complete sequences referenced by those accession numbers are hereby incorporated by reference in their entireties herein.
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Claims

1. A method for reducing cancer cell proliferation or promoting cancer cell death by administering, to a cancer cell, an effective amount of compound D having the formula:
[see pdf for image]
2. The method of claim 1, further comprising administering, to the cancer cell, an effective amount of a second antiproliferative agent.
3. The method of claim 2 where the second antiproliferative agent is a platinum compound.
4. The method of claim 3 where the platinum compound is cisplatin.
5. The method of claim 3 where the platinum compound is carboplatin.
6. The method of claim 4 where the cisplatin is bound to an albumin carrier.
7. The method of claim 1 where compound D is bound to an albumin carrier.
8. The method of claim 1 where compound D is bound to a cyclodextrin carrier.
9. A method for reducing cancer cell proliferation or promoting cancer cell death in a subject in need of such treatment comprising administering, to the subject, an effective amount of compound D having the formula:
[see pdf for image]
10. The method of claim 9 where the cancer is selected from the group consisting of breast cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, glioblastoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, melanoma and colon cancer.
11. The method of claim 9, further comprising administering, to the subject, an effective amount of a second antiproliferative agent.
12. The method of claim 11 where the second antiproliferative agent is a platinum compound.
13. The method of claim 12 where the platinum compound is cisplatin.
14. The method of claim 13 where the cisplatin is bound to an albumin carrier.
15. The method of claim 12 where the platinum compound is carboplatin.
16. The method of claim 9 where the cancer is breast cancer.
17. The method of claim 9 where the cancer is lung cancer.
18. The method of claim 9 where the cancer is ovarian cancer.
19. The method of claim 9 where the cancer is glioblastoma.
20. The method of claim 9 where the cancer is squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.
21. The method of claim 9 where the cancer is melanoma.
22. The method of claim 9 where the cancer is colon cancer.
23. The method of claim 9 where compound D is bound to an albumin carrier.
24. The method of claim 9 where compound D is bound to a cyclodextrin carrier.
25. The method of claim 1 where the cancer cell is an ovarian cancer cell.
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