Discovery and Characterization of a Novel Fatty Acid Synthase Inhibitor with Antineoplastic Activity against Breast Cancer

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Haystead, Timothy A.J

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During oncogenesis, cancer cells go through metabolic reprogramming to maintain their high growth rates and adapt to changes in the microenvironment and the lack of essential nutrients. Several types of cancer are dependent on de novo fatty acid synthesis to sustain their growth rates by providing precursors to construct membranes and produce vital signaling lipids. Fatty acid synthase (FASN) catalyze the terminal step of de novo fatty acid synthesis and it is highly expressed in many types of cancers where it’s up-regulation is correlated with cancer aggressiveness and low therapeutic outcome. Many FASN inhibitors were developed and showed potent anticancer activity however, only one inhibitor advanced to early stage clinical trials with some dose limiting toxicities. Using a modified fluorescence-linked enzyme chemoproteomic strategy (FLECS) screen, we identified HS-106, a thiophenopyrimiden FASN inhibitor that has anti-neoplastic activity against breast cancer in vitro and in vivo. HS-106 was able to inhibit both; purified human FASN activity and cellular fatty acid synthesis activity as evaluated by radioactive tracers incorporation into lipids experiments. In proliferation and apoptosis assays, HS-106 was able to block proliferation and induce apoptosis in several breast cancer cell lines. Several rescue experiment and global lipidome analysis were performed to probe the mechanism by which HS-106 induces apoptosis. HS-106 was found to induce several changes in lipids metabolism: (i) inhibit fatty acids synthesis. (ii) Inhibit fatty acids oxidation as indicated by the ability of inhibiting Malonyl CoA accumulation to block HS-106 induced apoptosis and the increase in the abundance of ceramides. (iii) Increase fatty acids uptake and neutral lipids formation as confirmed 14C Palmitate uptake assay and neutral lipids staining. (iv)Inhibit the formation of phospholipids by inhibiting de novo fatty acid synthesis and diverting exogenous fatty acids to neutral lipids. All of these events would lead to disruption in membranes structure and function. HS-106 was also tested in Lapatinib resistant cell lines and it was able to induce apoptosis and synergizes Lapatinib activity in these cell lines. This may be due the disruption of lipid rafts based on the observation that HS-106 reduces the expression of both HER2 and HER3. HS-106 was found to be well tolerated and bioavailable in mice with high elimination rate. HS-106 efficacy was tested in MMTV neu mouse model. Although did not significantly reduced tumor size (alone), HS-106 was able to double the median survival of the mice and showed potent antitumor activity when combined with Carboplatin. Similar results were obtained when same combinations and dosing schedule was used in C3Tag mouse model except for the inability of HS-106 affect mice survival.

From the above, HS-106 represent a novel FASN inhibitor that has anticancer activity both in vivo and in vitro. Being a chemically tractable molecule, the synthetic route to HS-106 is readily adaptable for the preparation of analogs that are similar in structure, suggesting that, the pharmacological properties of HS-106 can be improved.






Alwarawrah, Yazan (2016). Discovery and Characterization of a Novel Fatty Acid Synthase Inhibitor with Antineoplastic Activity against Breast Cancer. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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