Target discovery of acivicin in cancer cells elucidates its mechanism of growth inhibition

Chem. Sci., 2014, DOI: 10.1039/C4SC02339K, 6, 237-245 published on 16.09.2014
Chem. Sci., online article
Acivicin is a natural product with diverse biological activities. Several decades ago its clinical application in cancer treatment was explored but failed due to unacceptable toxicity. The causes behind the desired and undesired biological effects have never been elucidated and only limited information about acivicin-specific targets is available. In order to elucidate the target spectrum of acivicin in more detail we prepared functionalized derivatives and applied them for activity based proteomic profiling (ABPP) in intact cancer cells. Target deconvolution by quantitative mass spectrometry (MS) revealed a preference for specific aldehyde dehydrogenases. Further in depth target validation confirmed that acivicin inhibits ALDH4A1 activity by binding to the catalytic site. In accordance with this, downregulation of ALDH4A1 by siRNA resulted in a severe inhibition of cell growth and might thus provide an explanation for the cytotoxic effects of acivicin.  

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