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Cytotoxic activity of the novel small molecule AKT inhibitor SC66 in hepatocellular carcinoma cells.

Oncotarget (2015-01-19)
Antonella Cusimano, Roberto Puleio, Natale D'Alessandro, Guido R Loria, James A McCubrey, Giuseppe Montalto, Melchiorre Cervello
ABSTRACT

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is characterized by limited response to current drug therapies. Here, we report that SC66, a novel AKT inhibitor, reduced cell viability in a dose- and time-dependent manner, inhibited colony formation and induced apoptosis in HCC cells. SC66 treatment led to a reduction in total and phospho-AKT levels. This was associated with alterations in cytoskeleton organization, a reduction in expression levels of E-cadherin, β-catenin and phospho-FAK, together with up-regulation of Snail protein levels. All these alterations were coupled with anoikis cell death induction. In addition, SC66 induced the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and DNA damage. Pre-treatment with the ROS scavenger N-Acetyl-cysteine (NAC) prevented SC66-induced cell growth inhibition and anoikis. SC66 significantly potentiated the effects of both conventional chemotherapeutic and targeted agents, doxorubicin and everolimus, respectively. In vivo, SC66 inhibited tumor growth of Hep3B cells in xenograft models, with a similar mechanism observed in the in vitro model. Taken together, these data indicate that the AKT inhibitor SC66 had antitumor effects on HCC cells. This was mediated by ROS production, induction of anoikis-mediated cell death and inhibition of the AKT cell survival pathway. Our results provide a rational basis for the use of SC66 in HCC treatment.

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