Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC) remain clinically challenging with a lack of options for targeted therapy. In this study, we report the development of a second-generation BET protein degrader, BETd-246, which exhibits superior selectivity, potency, and antitumor activity. In human TNBC cells, BETd-246 induced degradation of BET proteins at low nanomolar concentrations within 1 hour of exposure, resulting in robust growth inhibition and apoptosis. BETd-246 was more potent and effective in TNBC cells than its parental BET inhibitor compound BETi-211. RNA-seq analysis revealed predominant downregulation of a large number of genes involved in proliferation and apoptosis in cells treated with BETd-246, as compared with BETi-211 treatment that upregulated and downregulated a similar number of genes. Functional investigations identified the MCL1 gene as a critical downstream effector for BET degraders, which synergized with small-molecule inhibitors of BCL-xL in triggering apoptosis. In multiple murine xenograft models of human breast cancer, BETd-246 and a further optimized analogue BETd-260 effectively depleted BET proteins in tumors and exhibited strong antitumor activities at well-tolerated dosing schedules. Overall, our findings show that targeting BET proteins for degradation represents an effective therapeutic strategy for TNBC treatment. Cancer Res; 77(9); 1–12. ©2017 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Research Online (http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received September 28, 2016.
- Revision received October 31, 2016.
- Accepted January 25, 2017.
- ©2017 American Association for Cancer Research.