Mcl-1 Interacts with Akt to Promote Lung Cancer Progression.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Cancer research


Animals; Antineoplastic Agents; CRISPR-Cas Systems; Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung; Cell Line, Tumor; Disease Progression; Follow-Up Studies; Gene Knockout Techniques; Humans; Kaplan-Meier Estimate; Lung; Lung Neoplasms; Male; Mice; Molecular Docking Simulation; Myeloid Cell Leukemia Sequence 1 Protein; Prognosis; Protein Binding; Protein Domains; Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt; Signal Transduction; Tissue Array Analysis; Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


Mcl-1 is a unique antiapoptotic Bcl2 family protein that functions as a gatekeeper in manipulating apoptosis and survival in cancer cells. Akt is an oncogenic kinase that regulates multiple cellular functions and its activity is significantly elevated in human cancers. Here we discovered a cross-talk between Mcl-1 and Akt in promoting lung cancer cell growth. Depletion of endogenous Mcl-1 from human lung cancer cells using CRISPR/Cas9 or Mcl-1 shRNA significantly decreased Akt activity, leading to suppression of lung cancer cell growth in vitro and in xenografts. Mechanistically, Mcl-1 directly interacted via its PEST domain with Akt at the pleckstrin homology (PH) domain. It is known that the interactions between the PH domain and kinase domain (KD) are important for maintaining Akt in an inactive state. The binding of Mcl-1/PH domain disrupted intramolecular PH/KD interactions to activate Akt. Intriguingly, Mcl-1 expression correlated with Akt activity in tumor tissues from patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Using the Mcl-1-binding PH domain of Akt as a docking site, we identified a novel small molecule, PH-687, that directly targets the PH domain and disrupts Mcl-1/Akt binding, leading to suppression of Akt activity and growth inhibition of lung cancer in vitro and in vivo. By targeting the Mcl-1/Akt interaction, this mechanism-driven agent provides a highly attractive strategy for the treatment of lung cancer. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings indicate that targeting Mcl-1/Akt interaction by employing small molecules such as PH-687 represents a potentially new and effective strategy for cancer treatment.

Clinical Institute



Institute for Systems Biology