Publications by authors named "Paolo Cappella"

26 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

CyTOF Mass Cytometry for Click Proliferation Assays.

Curr Protoc Cytom 2017 Jul 5;81:7.50.1-7.50.14. Epub 2017 Jul 5.

FlowMetric Europe SpA, Lodi, Milan, Italy.

Novel cell analyzers, including polychromatic flow cytometers and isotopical cytometry by time of flight (CyTOF) mass cytometers, enable simultaneous measurement of virtually bondless characteristics at the single-cell level. BrdU assays for quantifying cellular proliferation are common but have several limitations, including the need for a DNA denaturation step and inability to simultaneously resolve multiple parameters and phenotypic complexity. Click chemistry reactions have become popular in the past decade, as they can resolve these issues. This protocol introduces a novel assay able to bridge flow cytometry and CyTOF analysis for active S-phase determination in cell cycle applications, combining well-established click chemistry with a novel iodo-deoxyuridine (IdU) azide derivative and a cross-reactive anti-IdU antibody for detecting incorporated EdU during DNA synthesis. This method is preferred over traditional BrdU-based assays for complex and multiparametric experiments. It provides a feasible cost-effective approach for detecting ethynyl-labeled nucleotides, with the advantage of combining flow and mass cytometry analyses. © 2017 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cpcy.25DOI Listing
July 2017

FOXM1 expression is significantly associated with chemotherapy resistance and adverse prognosis in non-serous epithelial ovarian cancer patients.

J Exp Clin Cancer Res 2017 05 8;36(1):63. Epub 2017 May 8.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, "Angelo Nocivelli" Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy.

Background: Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is a spectrum of different diseases, which makes their treatment a challenge. Forkhead box M1 (FOXM1) is an oncogene aberrantly expressed in many solid cancers including serous EOC, but its role in non-serous EOCs remains undefined. We examined FOXM1 expression and its correlation to prognosis across the three major EOC subtypes, and its role in tumorigenesis and chemo-resistance in vitro.

Methods: Gene signatures were generated by microarray for 14 clear-cell and 26 endometrioid EOCs, and 15 normal endometrium snap-frozen biopsies. Validation of FOXM1 expression was performed by RT-qPCR and immunohistochemistry in the same samples and additionally in 50 high-grade serous EOCs and in their most adequate normal controls (10 luminal fallopian tube and 20 ovarian surface epithelial brushings). Correlations of FOXM1 expression to clinic-pathological parameters and patients' prognosis were evaluated by Kaplan-Meier and Cox proportional-hazards analyses. OVCAR-3 and two novel deeply characterized EOC cell lines (EOC-CC1 and OSPC2, with clear-cell and serous subtype, respectively) were employed for in vitro studies. Effects of FOXM1 inhibition by transient siRNA transfection were evaluated on cell-proliferation, cell-cycle, colony formation, invasion, and response to conventional first- and second-line anticancer agents, and to the PARP-inhibitor olaparib. Gene signatures of FOXM1-silenced cell lines were generated by microarray and confirmed by RT-qPCR.

Results: A significant FOXM1 mRNA up-regulation was found in EOCs compared to normal controls. FOXM1 protein overexpression significantly correlated to serous histology (p = 0.001) and advanced FIGO stage (p = 0.004). Multivariate analyses confirmed FOXM1 protein overexpression as an independent indicator of worse disease specific survival in non-serous EOCs, and of shorter time to progression in platinum-resistant cases. FOXM1 downregulation in EOC cell lines inhibited cell growth and clonogenicity, and promoted the cytotoxic effects of platinum compounds, doxorubicin hydrochloride and olaparib. Upon FOXM1 knock-down in EOC-CC1 and OSPC2 cells, microarray and RT-qPCR analyses revealed the deregulation of several common and other unique subtype-specific FOXM1 putative targets involved in cell cycle, metastasis, DNA repair and drug response.

Conclusions: FOXM1 is up-regulated in all three major EOCs subtypes, and is a prognostic biomarker and a potential combinatorial therapeutic target in platinum resistant disease, irrespective of tumor histology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13046-017-0536-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5422964PMC
May 2017

A Novel High-Content Immunofluorescence Assay as a Tool to Identify at the Single Cell Level γ-Globin Inducing Compounds.

PLoS One 2015 28;10(10):e0141083. Epub 2015 Oct 28.

Dipartimento di Biotecnologie e Bioscienze, Università degli studi di Milano-Bicocca, Milano, Italy.

The identification of drugs capable of reactivating γ-globin to ameliorate β-thalassemia and Sickle Cell anemia is still a challenge, as available γ-globin inducers still have limited clinical indications. High-throughput screenings (HTS) aimed to identify new potentially therapeutic drugs require suitable first-step-screening methods combining the possibility to detect variation in the γ/β globin ratio with the robustness of a cell line. We took advantage of a K562 cell line variant expressing β-globin (β-K562) to set up a new multiplexed high-content immunofluorescence assay for the quantification of γ- and β-globin content at single-cell level. The assay was validated by using the known globin inducers hemin, hydroxyurea and butyric acid and further tested in a pilot screening that confirmed HDACs as targets for γ-globin induction (as proved by siRNA-mediated HDAC3 knockdown and by treatment with HDACs inhibitors entinostat and dacinostat) and identified Heme-oxygenases as novel candidate targets for γ-globin induction. Indeed, Heme-oxygenase2 siRNA knockdown as well as its inhibition by Tin protoporphyrin-IX (TinPPIX) greatly increased γ-globin expression. This result is particularly interesting as several metalloporphyrins have already been developed for clinical uses and could be tested (alone or in combination with other drugs) to improve pharmacological γ-globin reactivation for the treatment of β-hemoglobinopathies.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0141083PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4624791PMC
June 2016

Cell Proliferation Method: Click Chemistry Based on BrdU Coupling for Multiplex Antibody Staining.

Curr Protoc Cytom 2015 Apr 1;72:7.34.1-7.34.17. Epub 2015 Apr 1.

Department of Biology, Drug Discovery Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl, Milan, Italy.

Determination of incorporation of the thymidine analog 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) into DNA is a widely used method to analyze the cell cycle. However, DNA denaturation is required for BrdU detection with the consequence that most protein epitopes are destroyed and their immunocytochemical detection for multiplex analysis is not possible. A novel assay is presented for identifying cells in active S-phase that does not require the DNA denaturation step but nevertheless detects BrdU. For this purpose, cells were pulsed for a short time by 5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine (EdU) which is incorporated into DNA. The nucleotide-exposed ethynyl residue was then derivatized by a copper-catalyzed cycloaddition reaction ("click chemistry" coupling) using a BrdU azide probe. The resulting DNA-bound bromouracil moieties were then detected by commercial anti-BrdU monoclonal antibodies without the need for a denaturation step. This method has been tested using several cell lines and is more sensitive than traditional BrdU and allows multicolor and multiplex analysis in flow cytometry (FCM) and image-based cytometry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/0471142956.cy0734s72DOI Listing
April 2015

Application of click chemistry conditions for 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine determination through Fenton and related reactions.

Curr Protoc Cytom 2015 Jan 5;71:7.43.1-7.43.17. Epub 2015 Jan 5.

Department of Biology, Drug Discovery Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl, Milan, Italy.

Mixtures of ascorbate and copper used in certain click chemistry experimental conditions act as oxidizing agents, catalyzing the formation of reactive oxygen species through Fenton and related reactions. Hydroxyl radicals act as chemical nucleases, introducing DNA strand breaks that can be exploited for BrdU immunostaining in place of acid denaturation. This procedure is readily applicable to high content analysis and flow cytometry assays, and provides results comparable to click chemistry EdU cycloaddition and classical BrdU immunodetection. Importantly, this approach allows preservation of labile epitopes such as phosphoproteins. This unit describes an optimized method that successfully employs Fenton chemistry for simultaneous detection of phosphoproteins and BrdU in intact cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/0471142956.cy0743s71DOI Listing
January 2015

From "Click" to "Fenton" chemistry for 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine determination.

Cytometry A 2013 Nov 13;83(11):989-1000. Epub 2013 Aug 13.

Department of Biology Nerviano Medical Sciences, Via Pasteur 10, 20014, Nerviano, Italy.

Ascorbic acid (AA) and copper have been increasingly employed in flow cytometry (FCM) and high content analysis (HCA) since the introduction of "click chemistry" as a non-destructive alternative to classical 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) immunodetection for DNA synthesis and proliferation assays. Mixtures of ascorbate and catalytic copper, under certain experimental conditions, act as oxidizing agent, catalyzing the formation of reactive hydroxyl radicals through hydrogen peroxides decomposition via Fenton reaction. We developed a procedure for BrdU incorporation detection based on the use of AA and cupric ions as DNA damaging agents. Optimal DNA damaging conditions were identified and found to provide results comparable with "click" 5-ethynyl-deoxyuridine (EdU) cycloaddition approach and classical BrdU immunodetection. Scavenger agents were found to prevent hydroxyl-induced DNA damages, providing the proof-of-concept for the use of this procedure for DNA denaturation prior to BrdU detection. We demonstrated hydroxyl radicals' reaction to be readily applicable to HCA and FCM assays, for both classical BrdU immunostaining and EdU cycloaddition procedure. This technique was successfully employed for BrdU pulse-chase experiments and in multiparametric immunofluorescence assays for the simultaneous detection of labile phosphoproteins in intact cells. The use of AA/Cu prior to immunodetection for BrdU incorporation assays is a viable alternative to chemical/physical DNA denaturing agents (acids or heat), since it allows preservation of labile epitopes such as phosphoproteins, and over enzymatic agents (digestion with DNases) for its lower cost.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cyto.a.22343DOI Listing
November 2013

Highly multiplexed phenotypic imaging for cell proliferation studies.

J Biomol Screen 2014 Jan 29;19(1):145-57. Epub 2013 Jul 29.

1Cell Biology Department, Oncology Business Unit, Nerviano Medical Sciences S.r.l., Nerviano, Italy.

The application of multiplexed imaging technologies in phenotypic drug discovery (PDD) enables profiling of complex cellular perturbations in response to drug treatment. High-content analysis (HCA) is among the most pursued approaches in PDD, with a proven capability to identify compounds with a given cellular mechanism of action (MOA), as well as to unveil unexpected drug cellular activities. The ability of fluorescent image-based cytometric techniques to dissect the phenotypic heterogeneity of cell populations depends on the degree of multiplexing achievable. At present, most high-content assays employ up to four cellular markers separately detected in distinct fluorescence channels. We explored the possibility to increase HCA multiplexing through analysis of multiple proliferation markers in the same fluorescence channel by taking advantage of the different timing of antigen appearance during the cell cycle, or differential intracellular localization. Simultaneous analysis of DAPI staining and five immunofluorescence markers (BrdU incorporation, active caspase-3, phospho-histone H3, phospho-S6, and Ki-67) resulted in the first six-marker high-content assay readily applicable to compound MOA studies. This approach allows detection of rare cell subpopulations, unveiling a high degree of phenotypic heterogeneity in exponentially growing cell cultures and variability in the individual cell response to antiproliferative drugs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1087057113495712DOI Listing
January 2014

NMS-P937, an orally available, specific small-molecule polo-like kinase 1 inhibitor with antitumor activity in solid and hematologic malignancies.

Mol Cancer Ther 2012 Apr 7;11(4):1006-16. Epub 2012 Feb 7.

Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl, Nerviano, Milan, Italy.

Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) is a serine/threonine protein kinase considered to be the master player of cell-cycle regulation during mitosis. It is indeed involved in centrosome maturation, bipolar spindle formation, chromosome separation, and cytokinesis. PLK1 is overexpressed in a variety of human tumors and its overexpression often correlates with poor prognosis. Although five different PLKs are described in humans, depletion or inhibition of kinase activity of PLK1 is sufficient to induce cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis in cancer cell lines and in xenograft tumor models. NMS-P937 is a novel, orally available PLK1-specific inhibitor. The compound shows high potency in proliferation assays having low nanomolar activity on a large number of cell lines, both from solid and hematologic tumors. NMS-P937 potently causes a mitotic cell-cycle arrest followed by apoptosis in cancer cell lines and inhibits xenograft tumor growth with clear PLK1-related mechanism of action at well-tolerated doses in mice after oral administration. In addition, NMS-P937 shows potential for combination in clinical settings with approved cytotoxic drugs, causing tumor regression in HT29 human colon adenocarcinoma xenografts upon combination with irinotecan and prolonged survival of animals in a disseminated model of acute myelogenous leukemia in combination with cytarabine. NMS-P937, with its favorable pharmacologic parameters, good oral bioavailability in rodent and nonrodent species, and proven antitumor activity in different preclinical models using a variety of dosing regimens, potentially provides a high degree of flexibility in dosing schedules and warrants investigation in clinical settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-11-0765DOI Listing
April 2012

5-(2-amino-pyrimidin-4-yl)-1H-pyrrole and 2-(2-amino-pyrimidin-4-yl)-1,5,6,7-tetrahydro-pyrrolo[3,2-c]pyridin-4-one derivatives as new classes of selective and orally available Polo-like kinase 1 inhibitors.

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2012 Jan 23;22(1):96-101. Epub 2011 Nov 23.

Nerviano Medical Sciences srl, Business Unit Oncology, Viale Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano, (MI), Italy.

The discovery and characterization of two new chemical classes of potent and selective Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) inhibitors is reported. For the most interesting compounds, we discuss the biological activities, crystal structures and preliminary pharmacokinetic parameters. The more advanced compounds inhibit PLK1 in the enzymatic assay at the nM level and exhibit good activity in cell proliferation on A2780 cells. Furthermore, these compounds showed high levels of selectivity on a panel of unrelated kinases, as well as against PLK2 and PLK3 isoforms. Additionally, the compounds show acceptable oral bioavailability in mice making these inhibitors suitable candidates for further in vivo activity studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2011.11.065DOI Listing
January 2012

Transcriptional analysis of the Aurora inhibitor Danusertib leading to biomarker identification in TP53 wild type cells.

Gene 2012 Feb 2;494(2):202-8. Epub 2011 Sep 2.

Business Unit Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences srl, Nerviano (MI), Italy.

Aurora kinases represent an appealing target for anticancer therapies and several Aurora inhibitors are in clinical development, including the potent pan-Aurora inhibitor Danusertib. Treatment with Aurora inhibitors has been shown to induce diverse biological responses in different tumor cells, in part depending on TP53 status. To characterize the effects of Danusertib at the transcriptional level we carried out gene expression profiling of wt and TP53 mutant tumor cells showing differential cell cycle response upon drug treatment. We found that treatment with Danusertib induces a strong transcriptional response only in TP53 wt cells, with an overlapping pattern of expression of TP53-dependent genes among the three cell lines tested, while a prevalent signature could not be identified in the two TP53 mutant cells, suggesting that TP53 status is a key determinant for the observed transcriptional effects. This work led to the identification of a number of genes consistently modulated by Aurora treatment in TP53 cells. One of these is GDF15, a secreted protein belonging to the TGF-β superfamily, for which we found a potential role in resistance to Danusertib, and which could represent a potential biomarker for Danusertib treatment in TP53 WT tumors and in surrogate tissues such as blood or skin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gene.2011.08.014DOI Listing
February 2012

Miniaturizing bromodeoxyuridine incorporation enables the usage of flow cytometry for cell cycle analysis of adherent tissue culture cells for high throughput screening.

Cytometry A 2010 Oct 8;77(10):953-61. Epub 2010 Sep 8.

Cell Biology Department, Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl, Nerviano, Italy.

Analysis of cell cycle progression by 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation is commonly used for evaluating the mode of action of anticancer drugs, but usually requires a high number of cells and large amounts of monoclonal antibodies. In addition, manual sample handling is not suitable for high throughput. To circumvent these limitations, we have developed a miniaturized method to measure BrdU incorporation into DNA directly in 96-wells plates. Adherent cells were grown in 96-well plates in the absence or presence of compounds of interest. After BrdU pulse labeling or pulse chase, cells were harvested, transferred to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) V-bottom plates, and fixed by adding methanol. DNA denaturation was performed directly in the plates by heat using a PCR thermocycler. BrdU incorporation was detected by indirect immunocytochemical staining, and cellular DNA was counterstained using propidium iodide. Samples were acquired by a BD FACSCalibur with BD Multiwells Auto sampler or BD HTS. We defined a dynamic range of the optimal cell number, for which cells maintained exponential growth up to 72 h. The assay was robust up to 30,000 cells per well. BrdU dot plots of cell cycle phases showed an excellent separation of cell populations, and DNA histograms showed a low coefficient of variation. Thermal denaturation was suitable for 96-well plates to detect BrdU incorporation with a good signal-to-noise ratio, and cluster analysis allowed fingerprint readouts for drug sensitivity and mechanism of action as exemplified for paclitaxel and doxorubicin. This method provided rapid high-throughput BrdU/DNA content analysis with high accuracy and reproducibility, accompanied by a reduction in reagent consumption. A critical step was identified as the standardization of DNA denaturation using a PCR thermocycler. Here,we show some applications of this method for cell cycle studies in drug discovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cyto.a.20962DOI Listing
October 2010

Phosphorylation of TCTP as a marker for polo-like kinase-1 activity in vivo.

Anticancer Res 2010 Dec;30(12):4973-85

BU Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences srl, 20014 Nerviano, Italy.

Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) is the master regulator of mitosis and a target for anticancer therapy. To develop a marker of PLK1 activity in cells and tumour tissues, this study focused on translational controlled tumour protein (TCTP) and identified serine 46 as a site phosphorylated by PLK1 in vitro. Using an antibody raised against phospho-TCTP-Ser46, it was demonstrated that phosphorylation at this site correlates with PLK1 level and kinase activity in cells. Moreover, PLK1 depletion by siRNA or inactivation by specific inhibitors caused a correspondent decrease in phospho-TCTP-Ser46 signal validating this site as a direct marker of PLK1. Using this marker, the study characterized PLK1 inhibitors in cells by setting up a high-content assay and finally immunohistochemical assay suitable for following inhibitor activity in preclinical tumour models and possibly in clinical studies was developed.
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December 2010

Targeting the mitotic checkpoint for cancer therapy with NMS-P715, an inhibitor of MPS1 kinase.

Cancer Res 2010 Dec;70(24):10255-64

Department of Cell Biology-Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences, Viale Pasteur 10, Nerviano 20014, Italy.

MPS1 kinase is a key regulator of the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC), a mitotic mechanism specifically required for proper chromosomal alignment and segregation. It has been found aberrantly overexpressed in a wide range of human tumors and is necessary for tumoral cell proliferation. Here we report the identification and characterization of NMS-P715, a selective and orally bioavailable MPS1 small-molecule inhibitor, which selectively reduces cancer cell proliferation, leaving normal cells almost unaffected. NMS-P715 accelerates mitosis and affects kinetochore components localization causing massive aneuploidy and cell death in a variety of tumoral cell lines and inhibits tumor growth in preclinical cancer models. Inhibiting the SAC could represent a promising new approach to selectively target cancer cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-2101DOI Listing
December 2010

In vivo imaging of early stage apoptosis by measuring real-time caspase-3/7 activation.

Apoptosis 2011 Feb;16(2):198-207

Pharmacology Department, Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences, Viale Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano, Italy.

In vivo imaging of apoptosis in a preclinical setting in anticancer drug development could provide remarkable advantages in terms of translational medicine. So far, several imaging technologies with different probes have been used to achieve this goal. Here we describe a bioluminescence imaging approach that uses a new formulation of Z-DEVD-aminoluciferin, a caspase 3/7 substrate, to monitor in vivo apoptosis in tumor cells engineered to express luciferase. Upon apoptosis induction, Z-DEVD-aminoluciferin is cleaved by caspase 3/7 releasing aminoluciferin that is now free to react with luciferase generating measurable light. Thus, the activation of caspase 3/7 can be measured by quantifying the bioluminescent signal. Using this approach, we have been able to monitor caspase-3 activation and subsequent apoptosis induction after camptothecin and temozolomide treatment on xenograft mouse models of colon cancer and glioblastoma, respectively. Treated mice showed more than 2-fold induction of Z-DEVD-aminoluciferin luminescent signal when compared to the untreated group. Combining D: -luciferin that measures the total tumor burden, with Z-DEVD-aminoluciferin that assesses apoptosis induction via caspase activation, we confirmed that it is possible to follow non-invasively tumor growth inhibition and induction of apoptosis after treatment in the same animal over time. Moreover, here we have proved that following early apoptosis induction by caspase 3 activation is a good biomarker that accurately predicts tumor growth inhibition by anti-cancer drugs in engineered colon cancer and glioblastoma cell lines and in their respective mouse xenograft models.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10495-010-0553-1DOI Listing
February 2011

Thieno[3,2-c]pyrazoles: a novel class of Aurora inhibitors with favorable antitumor activity.

Bioorg Med Chem 2010 Oct 25;18(19):7113-20. Epub 2010 Jul 25.

Nerviano Medical Sciences-Oncology, via Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano, Milan, Italy.

A novel series of 3-amino-1H-thieno[3,2-c]pyrazole derivatives demonstrating high potency in inhibiting Aurora kinases was developed. Here we describe the synthesis and a preliminary structure-activity relationship, which led to the discovery of a representative compound (38), which showed low nanomolar inhibitory activity in the anti-proliferation assay and was able to block the cell cycle in HCT-116 cell line. This compound demonstrated favorable pharmacokinetic properties and good efficacy in the HL-60 xenograft tumor model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmc.2010.07.048DOI Listing
October 2010

Identification of 4,5-dihydro-1H-pyrazolo[4,3-h]quinazoline derivatives as a new class of orally and selective Polo-like kinase 1 inhibitors.

J Med Chem 2010 May;53(9):3532-51

Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl, Oncology, Viale Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano, (Mi), Italy.

Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) is a fundamental regulator of mitotic progression whose overexpression is often associated with oncogenesis and therefore is recognized as an attractive therapeutic target in the treatment of proliferative diseases. Here we discuss the structure-activity relationship of the 4,5-dihydro-1H-pyrazolo[4,3-h]quinazoline class of compounds that emerged from a high throughput screening (HTS) campaign as potent inhibitors of Plk1 kinase. Furthermore, we describe the discovery of 49, 8-{[2-methoxy-5-(4-methylpiperazin-1-yl)phenyl]amino}-1-methyl-4,5-dihydro-1H-pyrazolo[4,3-h]quinazoline-3-carboxamide, as a highly potent and specific ATP mimetic inhibitor of Plk1 (IC(50) = 0.007 microM) as well as its crystal structure in complex with the methylated Plk1(36-345) construct. Compound 49 was active in cell proliferation against different tumor cell lines with IC(50) values in the submicromolar range and active in vivo in the HCT116 xenograft model where it showed 82% tumor growth inhibition after repeated oral administration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jm901713nDOI Listing
May 2010

Identification of Myb-binding protein 1A (MYBBP1A) as a novel substrate for aurora B kinase.

J Biol Chem 2010 Apr 22;285(16):11775-85. Epub 2010 Feb 22.

Nerviano Medical Sciences, Nerviano 20014 MI, Italy.

Aurora kinases are mitotic enzymes involved in centrosome maturation and separation, spindle assembly and stability, and chromosome condensation, segregation, and cytokinesis and represent well known targets for cancer therapy because their deregulation has been linked to tumorigenesis. The availability of suitable markers is of crucial importance to investigate the functions of Auroras and monitor kinase inhibition in in vivo models and in clinical trials. Extending the knowledge on Aurora substrates could help to better understand their biology and could be a source for clinical biomarkers. Using biochemical, mass spectrometric, and cellular approaches, we identified MYBBP1A as a novel Aurora B substrate and serine 1303 as the major phosphorylation site. MYBBP1A is phosphorylated in nocodazole-arrested cells and is dephosphorylated upon Aurora B silencing or by treatment with Danusertib, a small molecule inhibitor of Aurora kinases. Furthermore, we show that MYBBP1A depletion by RNA interference causes mitotic progression delay and spindle assembly defects. MYBBP1A has until now been described as a nucleolar protein, mainly involved in transcriptional regulation. The results presented herein show MYBBP1A as a novel Aurora B kinase substrate and reveal a not yet recognized link of this nucleolar protein to mitosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M109.068312DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2852913PMC
April 2010

Quantitative assessment of the complex dynamics of G1, S, and G2-M checkpoint activities.

Cancer Res 2009 Jun 9;69(12):5234-40. Epub 2009 Jun 9.

Biophysics Unit, Laboratory of Anticancer Pharmacology, Department of Oncology, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Milan, Italy.

Although studies of cell cycle perturbation and growth inhibition are common practice, they are unable to properly measure the activity of cell cycle checkpoints and frequently convey misinterpretation or incomplete pictures of the response to anticancer treatment. A measure of the strength of the treatment response of all checkpoints, with their time and dose dependence, provides a new way to evaluate the antiproliferative activity of the drugs, fully accounting for variation of the cell fates within a cancer cell line. This is achieved with an interdisciplinary approach, joining information from independent experimental platforms and interpreting all data univocally with a simple mathematical model of cell cycle proliferation. The model connects the dynamics of checkpoint activities at the molecular level with population-based flow cytometric and growth inhibition time course measures. With this method, the response to five drugs, characterized by different molecular mechanisms of action, was studied in a synoptic way, producing a publicly available database of time course measures with different techniques in a range of drug concentrations, from sublethal to frankly cytotoxic. Using the computer simulation program, we were able to closely reproduce all the measures in the experimental database by building for each drug a scenario of the time and dose dependence of G(1), S, and G(2)-M checkpoint activities. We showed that the response to each drug could be described as a combination of a few types of activities, each with its own strength and concentration threshold. The results gained from this method provide a means for exploring new concepts regarding the drug-cell cycle interaction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-3911DOI Listing
June 2009

Cell proliferation method: click chemistry based on BrdU coupling for multiplex antibody staining.

Curr Protoc Cytom 2008 Jul;Chapter 7:Unit7.34

Department of Biology, Drug Discovery Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl, Milan, Italy.

Determination of incorporation of the thymidine analog 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) into DNA is a widely used method to analyze the cell cycle (see UNIT 7.7). However, DNA denaturation is required for BrdU detection with the consequence that most protein epitopes are destroyed and their immunocytochemical detection for multiplex analysis is not possible. A novel assay is presented for identifying cells in active S-phase that does not require the DNA denaturation step but nevertheless detects BrdU. For this purpose, cells were pulsed for a short time by an alkenyl deoxyuridine (5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine, EdU), which is incorporated into DNA. The nucleotide exposed ethynyl residue was then derivatized by a copper-catalyzed cycloaddition reaction ("click chemistry" coupling) using a BrdU azide probe. The resulting DNA-bound bromouracil moieties were then detected by commercial anti-BrdU monoclonal antibodies without the need for a denaturation step. This method has been tested using several cell lines and is preferred over traditional BrdU detection since it is more sensitive and allows multicolor and multiplex analysis in FCM and imaging.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/0471142956.cy0734s45DOI Listing
July 2008

A novel method based on click chemistry, which overcomes limitations of cell cycle analysis by classical determination of BrdU incorporation, allowing multiplex antibody staining.

Cytometry A 2008 Jul;73(7):626-36

Department of Cell Biology, Drug Discovery Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl, Nerviano (Mi), Italy.

Quantification of BrdU incorporation into DNA is a widely used technique to assess the cell cycle status of cells. DNA denaturation is required for BrdU detection with the drawback that most protein epitopes are destroyed and classical antibody staining techniques for multiplex analysis are not possible. To address this issue we have developed a novel method that overcomes the DNA denaturation step but still allows detection of BrdU. Cells were pulsed for a short time by 5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine, which is incorporated into DNA. The exposed nucleotide alkyne group of DNA was then derivatized in physiologic conditions by the copper (I)-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition (CuAAC) using BrdU azides. The resulting DNA-bound bromouracil moiety was subsequently detected by commercial anti-BrdU mAb without the need for a denaturation step. Continuous labeling with EdU showed a slightly increased anti-proliferative activity compared to BrdU. However, using a lower concentration of EdU for labeling can compensate for this. Alkynyl tags could be detected quickly by a highly specific reaction using BrdU azides. Fluorescence quenching by the DNA dye PI using both BrdU azides was negligible. Our labeling method is suitable for FCM and HCA and shows a higher signal to noise ratio than other methods. This method also allowed multiplex analysis by simultaneous detection of EdU-BrdU, caspase-3, and phospho-histone 3 mAbs, proving sensitivity and feasibility of this new technique. In addition, it has the potential for use in vivo, as exemplified for bone marrow studies. We have established a new method to determine the position of cells in the cell cycle. This is superior when compared to traditional BrdU detection since it allows multiplex analysis, is more sensitive and shows less quenching with PI. The method provides new opportunities to investigate changes in protein expression at different cell cycle stages using pulse labeling experiments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cyto.a.20582DOI Listing
July 2008

PHA-739358, a potent inhibitor of Aurora kinases with a selective target inhibition profile relevant to cancer.

Mol Cancer Ther 2007 Dec;6(12 Pt 1):3158-68

Nerviano Medical Sciences S.r.l.-Oncology, Viale Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano, Milan, Italy.

PHA-739358 is a small-molecule 3-aminopyrazole derivative with strong activity against Aurora kinases and cross-reactivities with some receptor tyrosine kinases relevant for cancer. PHA-739358 inhibits all Aurora kinase family members and shows a dominant Aurora B kinase inhibition-related cellular phenotype and mechanism of action in cells in vitro and in vivo. p53 status-dependent endoreduplication is observed upon treatment of cells with PHA-739358, and phosphorylation of histone H3 in Ser(10) is inhibited. The compound has significant antitumor activity in different xenografts and spontaneous and transgenic animal tumor models and shows a favorable pharmacokinetic and safety profile. In vivo target modulation is observed as assessed by the inhibition of the phosphorylation of histone H3, which has been validated preclinically as a candidate biomarker for the clinical phase. Pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics modeling was used to define drug potency and to support the prediction of active clinical doses and schedules. We conclude that PHA-739358, which is currently tested in clinical trials, has great therapeutic potential in anticancer therapy in a wide range of cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-07-0444DOI Listing
December 2007

1,4,5,6-tetrahydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrazoles: identification of a potent Aurora kinase inhibitor with a favorable antitumor kinase inhibition profile.

J Med Chem 2006 Nov;49(24):7247-51

Nerviano Medical Sciences S.r.l. viale Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano, Milan, Italy.

The optimization of a series of 5-phenylacetyl 1,4,5,6-tetrahydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrazole derivatives toward the inhibition of Aurora kinases led to the identification of compound 9d. This is a potent inhibitor of Aurora kinases that also shows low nanomolar potency against additional anticancer kinase targets. Based on its high antiproliferative activity on different cancer cell lines, favorable chemico-physical and pharmacokinetic properties, and high efficacy in in vivo tumor models, compound 9d was ultimately selected for further development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jm060897wDOI Listing
November 2006

Multiparametric cell cycle analysis by automated microscopy.

J Biomol Screen 2006 Sep 14;11(6):586-98. Epub 2006 Jul 14.

Biology Department, Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences, Nerviano, Italy.

Cell cycle analysis using flow cytometry (FC) to measure cellular DNA content is a common procedure in drug mechanism of action studies. Although this technique lends itself readily to cell lines that grow in suspension, adherent cell cultures must be resuspended in a cumbersome and potentially invasive procedure that normally involves trypsinization and mechanical agitation of monolayer cultures. High-content analysis (HCA), an automated microscopy-based technology, is well suited to analysis of monolayer cell cultures but provides intrinsically less accurate determination of cellular DNA content than does FC and thus is not the method of choice for cell cycle analysis. Using Cellomics's ArrayScan reader, the authors have developed a 4-color multiparametric HCA approach for cell cycle analysis of adherent cells based on detection of DNA content (4,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole [DAPI] fluorescence), together with the known cell cycle markers bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation, cyclin B1 expression, and histone H3 (Ser28) phosphorylation within a single cell population. Considering all 4 markers together, a reliable and accurate quantification of cell cycle phases was possible, as compared with flow cytometric analysis. Using this assay, specific cell cycle blocks induced by treatment with thymidine, paclitaxel, or nocodazole as test drugs were easily monitored in adherent cultures of U-2 OS osteosarcoma cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1087057106289406DOI Listing
September 2006

PHA-680632, a novel Aurora kinase inhibitor with potent antitumoral activity.

Clin Cancer Res 2006 Jul;12(13):4080-9

Nerviano Medical Sciences S.r.l.-Oncology, Milan, Italy.

Purpose: Aurora kinases play critical roles during mitosis in chromosome segregation and cell division. The aim of this study was to determine the preclinical profile of a novel, highly selective Aurora kinase inhibitor, PHA-680632, as a candidate for anticancer therapy.

Experimental Design: The activity of PHA-680632 was assayed in a biochemical ATP competitive kinase assay. A wide panel of cell lines was evaluated for antiproliferative activity. Cell cycle analysis. Immunohistochemistry, Western blotting, and Array Scan were used to follow mechanism of action and biomarker modulation. Specific knockdown of the targets by small interfering RNA was followed to validate the observed phenotypes. Efficacy was determined in different xenograft models and in a transgenic animal model of breast cancer.

Results: PHA-680632 is active on a wide range of cancer cell lines and shows significant tumor growth inhibition in different animal tumor models at well-tolerated doses. The mechanism of action of PHA-680632 is in agreement with inhibition of Aurora kinases. Histone H3 phosphorylation in Ser10 is mediated by Aurora B kinase, and our kinetic studies on its inhibition by PHA-680632 in vitro and in vivo show that phosphorylation of histone H3 is a good biomarker to follow activity of PHA-680632.

Conclusions: PHA-680632 is the first representative of a new class of Aurora inhibitors with a high potential for further development as an anticancer therapeutic. On treatment, different cell lines respond differentially, suggesting the absence of critical cell cycle checkpoints that could be the basis for a favorable therapeutic window.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-05-1964DOI Listing
July 2006

Interpreting cell cycle effects of drugs: the case of melphalan.

Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 2006 Apr 30;57(4):443-57. Epub 2005 Sep 30.

Biophysics Unit, Laboratory of Cancer Pharmacology, Department of Oncology, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Via Eritrea 62, 20157, Milano, Italy.

Multiple effects usually occur in the cell cycle, during and after the exposure to a drug, while treated cells flowing through the cycle encounter G1, S and G2M checkpoints. We developed a simulation tool connecting the microscopic level of the cellular response in G1, S and G2M with the experimental data of growth inhibition and flow cytometry. We found that multiple-often not intuitive-combinations of cytostatic and cytotoxic effects can be in keeping with the observations. This multiplicity of interpretation can be strongly reduced by considering together data with different methods, ideally reaching a reconstruction of the underlying cell cycle perturbations. Here, we propose an experimental plan including a time course of DNA flow cytometry and absolute cell count measurements with several drug concentrations and a limited number of flow cytometric DNA-Bromodeoxyuridine and TUNEL analyses, coupled with computer simulation. We showed its use in the attempt to define the complete time course of the effects of melphalan on three cancer cell lines. After drug treatment, each subset of cells experienced blocks and lethality in all phases of the cell cycle, but the dynamics was different, the differences being strongly dose-dependent. Our approach allows a better appreciation of the complexity of the cell cycle phenomena associated with drug treatment. It is expected that such level of understanding of the time- and dose-dependence of the cytostatic and cytotoxic effects of a drug might support rational therapeutic design.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00280-005-0044-1DOI Listing
April 2006

Potent and selective Aurora inhibitors identified by the expansion of a novel scaffold for protein kinase inhibition.

J Med Chem 2005 Apr;48(8):3080-4

Nerviano Medical Sciences - Oncology, via Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano, Milan, Italy.

Potent and selective Aurora kinase inhibitors were identified from the combinatorial expansion of the 1,4,5,6-tetrahydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrazole bi-cycle, a novel and versatile scaffold designed to target the ATP pocket of protein kinases. The most potent compound reported in this study had an IC(50) of 0.027 microM in the enzymatic assay for Aur-A inhibition and IC(50)s between 0.05 microM and 0.5 microM for the inhibition of proliferation of different tumor cell lines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jm049076mDOI Listing
April 2005