State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy and Cancer Center, West China Hospital, West China Medical School, Sichuan University and Collaborative Innovation Center for Biotherapy, Chengdu, 610041, China. Electronic address: [Email]
T-lymphokine-activated killer cell-originated protein kinase (TOPK) is a serine-threonine mitogen-activated protein kinase that is highly expressed in many types of human cancer. Due to its important role in cancer progression, TOPK is becoming an attractive target in chemotherapeutic drug design. In this study, a series of 1-phenyl phenanthridin-6(5H)-one derivatives have been identified as a novel chemical class of TOPK inhibitors. Some of them displayed very potent anti-cancer activity with IC50s less than 100 nM, superior than reference compound OTS964. The most potent compound, 9g suppressed the growth of cancer cells by apoptosis and specifically inhibited the activities of TOPK. Oral administration of 9g effectively suppressed tumor growth with TGI >79.7% in colorectal cancer xenograft models, demonstrating superior efficacy compared to OTS964. Pharmacokinetic studies reveal its good oral bioavailability. Our findings therefore show that 9g is a specific inhibitor of TOPK both in vitro and in vivo that may be further developed as a potential therapeutic agent against colorectal cancer.