Discovery of marinopyrrole A (maritoclax) as a selective Mcl-1 antagonist that overcomes ABT-737 resistance by binding to and targeting Mcl-1 for proteasomal degradation

Kenichiro Doi, Rongshi Li, Shen Shu Sung, Hongwei Wu, Yan Liu, Wanda Manieri, Gowdahalli Krishnegowda, Andy Awwad, Alden Dewey, Xin Liu, Shantu Amin, Chunwei Cheng, Yong Qin, Ernst Schonbrunn, Gary Daughdrill, Thomas P. Loughran, Said Sebti, Hong Gang Wang

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105 Scopus citations


The anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family of proteins, including Bcl-2, Bcl-X L and Mcl-1, are well-validated drug targets for cancer treatment. Several small molecules have been designed to interfere with Bcl-2 and its fellow pro-survival family members. While ABT-737 and its orally active analog ABT-263 are the most potent and specific inhibitors to date that bind Bcl-2 and Bcl-X L with high affinity but have a much lower affinity for Mcl-1, they are not very effective as single agents in certain cancer types because of elevated levels of Mcl-1. Accordingly, compounds that specifically target Mcl-1 may overcome this resistance. In this study, we identified and characterized the natural product marinopyrroleAas a novel Mcl-1-specific inhibitor and named it maritoclax. We found that maritoclax binds to Mcl-1, but not Bcl-X L, and is able to disrupt the interaction between Bim and Mcl-1. Moreover, maritoclax induces Mcl-1 degradation via the proteasome system, which is associated with the pro-apoptotic activity of maritoclax. Importantly, maritoclax selectively kills Mcl-1-dependent, but not Bcl-2- or Bcl-X L-dependent, leukemia cells and markedly enhances the efficacy of ABT-737 against hematologic malignancies, including K562, Raji, and multidrugresistant HL60/VCR, by ∼60- to 2000-fold at 1-2 μM. Taken together, these results suggest that maritoclax represents a new class of Mcl-1 inhibitors, which antagonizes Mcl-1 and overcomes ABT-737 resistance by targeting Mcl-1 for degradation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10224-10235
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 23 2012


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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