Targeted Inhibition of Mutant IDH2 in Leukemia Cells Induces Cellular Differentiation

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Science  03 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6132, pp. 622-626
DOI: 10.1126/science.1234769

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Among the most exciting drug targets to emerge from cancer genome sequencing projects are two related metabolic enzymes, isocitrate dehydrogenases 1 and 2 (IDH1, IDH2). Mutations in the IDH1 and IDH2 genes are common in certain types of human cancer. Whether inhibition of mutant IDH activity might offer therapeutic benefits is unclear (see the Perspective by Kim and DeBerardinis). F. Wang et al. (p. 622, published online 4 April) isolated a small molecule that selectively inhibits mutant IDH2, describe the structural details of its binding to the mutant enzyme, and show that this compound suppresses the growth of patient-derived leukemia cells harboring the IDH2 mutation. Rohle et al. (p. 626, published online 4 April) show that a small molecule inhibitor of IDH1 selectively slows the growth of patient-derived brain tumor cells with the IDH1 mutation.


A number of human cancers harbor somatic point mutations in the genes encoding isocitrate dehydrogenases 1 and 2 (IDH1 and IDH2). These mutations alter residues in the enzyme active sites and confer a gain-of-function in cancer cells, resulting in the accumulation and secretion of the oncometabolite (R)-2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG). We developed a small molecule, AGI-6780, that potently and selectively inhibits the tumor-associated mutant IDH2/R140Q. A crystal structure of AGI-6780 complexed with IDH2/R140Q revealed that the inhibitor binds in an allosteric manner at the dimer interface. The results of steady-state enzymology analysis were consistent with allostery and slow-tight binding by AGI-6780. Treatment with AGI-6780 induced differentiation of TF-1 erythroleukemia and primary human acute myelogenous leukemia cells in vitro. These data provide proof-of-concept that inhibitors targeting mutant IDH2/R140Q could have potential applications as a differentiation therapy for cancer.

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