A Synthetic Cell-Penetrating Dominant-Negative ATF5 Peptide Exerts Anticancer Activity against a Broad Spectrum of Treatment-Resistant Cancers


Despite significant progress in cancer research, many tumor entities still have an unfavorable prognosis. Activating transcription factor 5 (ATF5) is upregulated in various malignancies and promotes apoptotic resistance. We evaluated the efficacy and mechanisms of the first described synthetic cell-penetrating inhibitor of ATF5 function, CP-d/n-ATF5-S1.


Preclinical drug testing was performed in various treatment-resistant cancer cells and in vivo xenograft models.


CP-d/n-ATF5-S1 reduced the transcript levels of several known direct ATF5 targets. It depleted endogenous ATF5 and induced apoptosis across a broad panel of treatment-refractory cancer cell lines, sparing non-neoplastic cells. CP-d/n-ATF5-S1 promoted tumor cell apoptotic susceptibility in part by reducing expression of the deubiquitinase Usp9X and led to diminished levels of antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family members Mcl-1 and Bcl-2. In line with this, CP-d/n-ATF5-S1 synergistically enhanced tumor cell apoptosis induced by the BH3-mimetic ABT263 and the death ligand TRAIL. In vivo, CP-d/n-ATF5-S1 attenuated tumor growth as a single compound in glioblastoma, melanoma, prostate cancer, and triple receptor-negative breast cancer xenograft models. Finally, the combination treatment of CP-d/n-ATF5-S1 and ABT263 significantly reduced tumor growth in vivo more efficiently than each reagent on its own.


Our data support the idea that CP-d/n-ATF5-S1, administered as a single reagent or in combination with other drugs, holds promise as an innovative, safe, and efficient antineoplastic agent against treatment-resistant cancers. 

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