Research Papers:

Identification of Mubritinib (TAK 165) as an inhibitor of KSHV driven primary effusion lymphoma via disruption of mitochondrial OXPHOS metabolism

Abram Calderon, Samantha S. Soldan, Alessandra De Leo, Zhong Deng, Drew M. Frase, Emma M. Anderson, Yue Zhang, Olga Vladimirova, Fang Lu, Jessica C. Leung, Maureen E. Murphy and Paul M. Lieberman _

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Oncotarget. 2020; 11:4224-4242. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.27815

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Abram Calderon1, Samantha S. Soldan1, Alessandra De Leo1, Zhong Deng1, Drew M. Frase1, Emma M. Anderson1, Yue Zhang1, Olga Vladimirova1, Fang Lu1, Jessica C. Leung1, Maureen E. Murphy1 and Paul M. Lieberman1

1 The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA 19146, USA

Correspondence to:

Paul M. Lieberman,email: [email protected]

Keywords: KSHV; LANA; high-throughput screen (HTS); primary effusion lymphoma; Mubritinib

Received: September 24, 2020     Accepted: October 29, 2020     Published: November 17, 2020

Copyright: © 2020 Calderon et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


KSHV-associated cancers have poor prognoses and lack therapeutics that selectively target viral gene functions. We developed a screening campaign to identify known drugs that could be repurposed for the treatment of KSHV-associated cancers. We focused on primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), which has particularly poor treatment outcomes. We developed a luciferase reporter assay to test the ability of drugs to inhibit DNA binding of the KSHV LANA DNA binding domain (DBD). In parallel, we screened drugs for selective inhibition of a KSHV+ PEL cells. While potent hits were identified in each assay, only one hit, Mubritinib, was found to score in both assays. Mubritinib caused PEL cells to undergo cell cycle arrest with accumulation of sub-G1 population and Annexin V. Mubritinib inhibited LANA binding to KSHV terminal repeat (TR) DNA in KSHV+ PEL cells, but did not lead to KSHV lytic cycle reactivation. Mubritinib was originally identified as a receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) inhibitor selective for HER2/ErbB2. But recent studies have revealed that Mubritinib can also inhibit the electron transport chain (ETC) complex at nanomolar concentrations. We found that other related ETC complex inhibitors (Rotenone and Deguelin) exhibited PEL cell growth inhibition while RTK inhibitors failed. Seahorse analysis demonstrated that Mubritinib selectively inhibits the maximal oxygen consumption (OCR) in PEL cells and metabolomics revealed changes in ATP/ADP and ATP/AMP ratios. These findings indicate that PEL cells are selectively sensitive to ETC complex inhibitors and provide a rationale for repurposing Mubritinib for selective treatment of PEL.

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