The heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) folding machinery is essential for the maturation of nascent polypeptides into their biologically active three-dimensional-structures and for the rematuration/clearance of misfolded proteins that form under cellular stress.1–3 As a prosurvival chaperone, Hsp90 overexpression is commonly observed in transformed cells, which is required to sustain the hostile tumor micro-environment associated with nutrient deprivation and hypoxia. Pharmacological inhibition of Hsp90 has been shown to induce the degradation of oncogenic proteins associated with all six hallmarks of cancer that rely upon Hsp90.4–8 Consequently, Hsp90 represents a highly sought after target for the treatment of cancer. In fact, 17 small molecules that bind competitively to the N-terminal ATP-binding pocket are under clinical evaluation against various cancers.9,10 However, heat shock factor 1 (HSF-1), the master regulator of the pro-survival heat shock response also binds Hsp90. Ultimately, Hsp90 N-terminal inhibition results in HSF-1 release, and upon phosphorylation, trimerizes and translocates to the nucleus wherein it binds the heat shock elements to activate the pro-survival, heat shock response (HSR). The HSR serves to expand the cellular buffering capacity and to assist in the maturation of mutated and oncogenic substrates.11 This concomitant heat shock response is detrimental to the treatment of cancer and may lead to drug resistance and tumor metastasis.12 Recent studies have demonstrated that allosteric modulation of the Hsp90 C-terminus can separate the pro-survival heat shock response from pro-apoptotic, client protein degradation.13–20 Two classes of small molecules derived from novobiocin 1, (Figure 1) the first identified Hsp90 C-terminal inhibitor, were discovered via the structure-activity relationship studies. KU-32 (2), which lacks a 4-hydroxyl, the 3’-carbamate, and contains an acetamide in lieu of a prenylated benzamide, represents a lead compound that induces the heat shock response at concentrations much lower than that needed for client protein degradation.2,21 Consequently, this class of analogues has been evaluated as neuroprotective agents to refold protein aggregates.22–24 In contrast, KU-174 (3) contains a biarylamide side chain in lieu of the acetamide, and induces Hsp90 client protein degradation without induction of the heat shock response.25–26 Therefore, this class of novobiocin analogues manifests optimal properties for the treatment of cancer, as no HSR is observed with such compounds.
Zhao, H., Anyika, M., Girgis, A., & Blagg, B. S. J. (2014). Novologues Containing a Benzamide Side Chain Manifest Anti-proliferative Activity Against Two Breast Cancer Cell Lines. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 24(15), 3633–3637. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2014.05.020