Research Papers:

ONC201 selectively induces apoptosis in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma cells via activating pro-apoptotic integrated stress response and inactivating JAK/STAT and NF-κB pathways

Xiao Ni _, Xiang Zhang, Cheng Hui Hu, Timothy Langridge, Rohinton s. Tarapore, Joshua E. Allen, Wolfgang Oster and Madeleine Duvic

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:61761-61776. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18688

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Xiao Ni1, Xiang Zhang1, Cheng-Hui Hu1, Timothy Langridge1, Rohinton S. Tarapore2, Joshua E. Allen2, Wolfgang Oster2 and Madeleine Duvic1

1Department of Dermatology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

2Oncoceutics, Inc., Philadelphia, PA, USA

Correspondence to:

Xiao Ni, email: [email protected]

Keywords: NHL, ONC201, TIC10, TRAIL, cancer

Received: December 22, 2016    Accepted: May 22, 2017    Published: June 27, 2017


Cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCLs) are extremely symptomatic and still incurable, and more effective and less toxic therapies are urgently needed. ONC201, an imipridone compound, has shown efficacy in pre-clinical studies in multiple advanced cancers. This study was to evaluate the anti-tumor activity of ONC201 on CTCL cells. The effect of ONC201 on the cell growth and apoptosis were evaluated in CTCL cell lines (n=8) and primary CD4+ malignant T cells isolated from CTCL patients (n=5). ONC201 showed a time-dependent cell growth inhibition in all treated cell lines with a concentration range of 1.25-10.0 μM. ONC201 also induced apoptosis in tested cells with a narrow concentration range of 2.5-10.0 μM, evidenced by increased Annexin V+ cells, accompanied by accumulated sub-G1 portions. ONC201 only induced apoptosis in CD4+ malignant T cells, not in normal CD4+ T cells. The activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4), a hallmark of integrated stress response, was upregulated in response to ONC201 whereas Akt was downregulated. In addition, molecules in JAK/STAT and NF-κB pathways, as well as IL-32β, were downregulated following ONC201 treatment. Thus, ONC201 exerts a potent and selective anti-tumor effect on CTCL cells. Its efficacy may involve activating integrated stress response through ATF4 and inactivating JAK/STAT and NF-κB pathways.

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