Drugging MYCN oncogenic signaling through the MYCN-PA2G4 binding interface

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Journal Article
Cancer Research, 2019, 79 (21), pp. 5652 - 5667
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© 2019 American Association for Cancer Research. MYCN is a major driver for the childhood cancer, neuroblastoma, however, there are no inhibitors of this target. Enhanced MYCN protein stability is a key component of MYCN oncogenesis and is maintained by multiple feedforward expression loops involving MYCN transactivation target genes. Here, we reveal the oncogenic role of a novel MYCN target and binding protein, proliferationassociated 2AG4 (PA2G4). Chromatin immunoprecipitation studies demonstrated that MYCN occupies the PA2G4 gene promoter, stimulating transcription. Direct binding of PA2G4 to MYCN protein blocked proteolysis of MYCN and enhanced colony formation in a MYCNdependent manner. Using molecular modeling, surface plasmon resonance, and mutagenesis studies, we mapped the MYCN-PA2G4 interaction site to a 14 amino acid MYCN sequence and a surface crevice of PA2G4. Competitive chemical inhibition of the MYCN-PA2G4 protein-protein interface had potent inhibitory effects on neuroblastoma tumorigenesis in vivo. Treated tumors showed reduced levels of both MYCN and PA2G4. Our findings demonstrate a critical role for PA2G4 as a cofactor in MYCN-driven neuroblastoma and highlight competitive inhibition of the PA2G4-MYCN protein binding as a novel therapeutic strategy in the disease.
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