Research Papers:

First Mnks degrading agents block phosphorylation of eIF4E, induce apoptosis, inhibit cell growth, migration and invasion in triple negative and Her2-overexpressing breast cancer cell lines

Senthilmurugan Ramalingam _, Lalji Gediya, Andrew K. Kwegyir-Afful, Vidya P. Ramamurthy, Puranik Purushottamachar, Hannah Mbatia and Vincent C.O. Njar

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:530-543. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.1528

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Senthilmurugan Ramalingam1,2, Lalji Gediya1,2, Andrew K. Kwegyir-Afful1,2, Vidya P. Ramamurthy1,2, Puranik Purushottamachar1,2, Hannah Mbatia1,2, and Vincent C. O. Njar1,2,3

1 Department of Pharmacology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA

2 Center for Biomolecular Therapeutics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA

3 Marlene Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA


Vincent C.O. Njar, email:

Keywords: Breast cancer, RAMBA retinamides, eukaryotic initiation factor 4E, Mnk1/2.

Received: October 21, 2013 Accepted: January 23, 2014 Published: January 25, 2014


Some retinoic acid metabolism blocking agents (RAMBAs) are known to exhibit a wide range of anticancer activities by mechanisms that are still not completely resolved. This study investigated the anticancer efficacy and mechanism(s) of novel RAMBA retinamides (RRs) in triple negative and Her-2 overexpressing breast cancer cells. Specifically, we examined the possibility that RRs affect the translational machinery in these breast cancer (BC) cells. Recent findings suggest that overexpression of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) in breast cancers critically augments CAP-dependent mRNA translation and synthesis of proteins involved in cell growth, cell proliferation, invasion and apoptosis evasion. The oncogenic potential of eIF4E is strictly dependent on serine209 phosphorylation by upstream MAPK-interacting kinases (Mnks). Targeting Mnk/eIF4E pathway for blocking Mnk function and eIF4E phosphorylation is therefore a novel approach for treating BCs, particularly for Her2-positive and triple negative breast cancers that have no indications for endocrine therapy or effective treatment regimes. We report for the first time that the degradation of Mnk1 by RRs in BC cells blocks eIF4E phosphorylation and subsequently inhibits cell growth, colonization, invasion, and migration and induce apoptosis. Most importantly, the anticancer efficacy of RRs was mediated via degrading Mnk rather than inhibiting its kinase activity like Mnk inhibitors (cercosporamide and CGP57380). Furthermore, RRs potencies on peIF4E down-regulation and growth inhibition were superior to those of two clinically relevant retinoids and the Mnk inhibitors. Together our findings provide the first preclinical proof-of-concept of novel Mnk degrading agents for Mnk/eIF4E based therapeutic treatment of breast cancers.

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