The Three-Substituted Indolinone Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 2 Inhibitor 3-[1-(3H-Imidazol-4-yl)-meth-(Z)-ylidene]-5-methoxy-1,3-dihydro-indol-2-one (SU9516) Kills Human Leukemia Cells via Down-Regulation of Mcl-1 through a Transcriptional Mechanism

Gao N, Kramer L, Rahmani M, Dent P, Grant S
Source: Mol Pharmacol
Publication Date: (2006)
Issue: 70(2): 645-55
Research Area:
Cancer Research/Cell Biology
Immunotherapy / Hematology
Cells used in publication:
Species: human
Tissue Origin: blood
Nucleofector® I/II/2b
Mechanisms of lethality of the three-substituted indolinone and putatively selective cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)2 inhibitor 3-[1-(3H-imidazol-4-yl)-meth-(Z)-ylidene]-5-methoxy-1,3-dihydro-indol-2-one (SU9516) were examined in human leukemia cells. Exposure of U937 and other leukemia cells to SU9516 concentrations >/=5 muM rapidly (i.e., within 4 h) induced cytochrome c release, Bax mitochondrial translocation, and apoptosis in association with pronounced down-regulation of the antiapoptotic protein Mcl-1. These effects were associated with inhibition of phosphorylation of the carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD) of RNA polymerase (Pol) II on serine 2 but not serine 5. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed pronounced down-regulation of Mcl-1 mRNA levels in SU9516-treated cells. Similar results were obtained in Jurkat and HL-60 leukemia cells. Furthermore, cotreatment with the proteasome inhibitor N-benzoyloxycarbonyl (Z)-Leu-Leu-leucinal (MG132) blocked SU9516-mediated Mcl-1 down-regulation, implicating proteasomal degradation in diminished expression of this protein. Ectopic expression of Mcl-1 largely blocked SU9516-induced cytochrome c release, Bax translocation, and apoptosis, whereas knockdown of Mcl-1 by small interfering RNA potentiated SU9516 lethality, confirming the functional contribution of Mcl-1 down-regulation to SU9516-induced cell death. It is noteworthy that SU9516 treatment resulted in a marked increase in reactive oxygen species production, which was diminished, along with cell death, by the free radical scavenger N-acetylcysteine (NAC). We were surprised to find that NAC blocked SU9516-mediated inhibition of RNA Pol II CTD phosphorylation on serine 2, reductions in Mcl-1 mRNA levels, and Mcl-1 down-regulation. Together, these findings suggest that SU9516 kills leukemic cells through inhibition of RNA Pol II CTD phosphorylation in association with oxidative damage and down-regulation of Mcl-1 at the transcriptional level, culminating in mitochondrial injury and cell death.