Research Papers:

Small molecule RL71 targets SERCA2 at a novel site in the treatment of human colorectal cancer

Baofang Yang, Minxia Zhang, Jian Gao, Jiahuang Li, Lu Fan, Gang Xiang, Xingqi Wang, Xiaoning Wang, Xuefeng Wu, Yang Sun, Xudong Wu, Guang Liang, Yan Shen and Qiang Xu _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:37613-37625. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6068

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Baofang Yang1,*, Minxia Zhang1,*, Jian Gao1, Jiahuang Li1, Lu Fan1, Gang Xiang1, Xingqi Wang1, Xiaoning Wang1, Xuefeng Wu1, Yang Sun1, Xudong Wu1, Guang Liang2, Yan Shen1 and Qiang Xu1

1 State Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, School of Life Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China

2 Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Research Center, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Wenzhou Medical College, Wenzhou, China

* These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Qiang Xu, email:

Yan Shen, email:

Keywords: RL71, SERCA2, novel binding site, colorectal cancer, targeted agent

Received: May 09, 2015 Accepted: September 26, 2015 Published: October 10, 2015


While targeted agents are an important part of the treatment arsenal for colorectal cancer, there is still a lack of efficient small-molecule targeted agents based on the understanding of pathogenic molecular mechanisms. In this study, curcumin analog RL71 displayed potent cytotoxicity towards human colon cancer cells with an IC50 of 0.8 µM in SW480 cells and inhibited xenotransplanted tumor growth in a dose-dependent manner. Using affinity chromatography, we identified sarco/endoplasmic reticulum calcium-ATPase (SERCA) 2 as the binding target of RL71. Most notably, RL71 demonstrated special binding to SERCA2 at a novel site with the lowest estimated free energy -8.89 kcal mol-1, and the SERCA2 residues critical for RL71 binding were identified. RL71 suppressed the Ca2+-ATPase activity of SERCA2 both in vitro and in vivo, accompanied by the induction of endoplasmic reticulum stress leading to apoptosis and G2/M cycle arrest in SW480 cells. In addition, RL71 showed synergistic cytotoxicity with the pan-SERCA inhibitor thapsigargin. These results suggest that RL71 could be a selective small-molecule inhibitor of SERCA2, and that it may serve as a lead compound for the study of targeted colorectal cancer therapy.

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