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A Family of Glycosylated Macrolides Selectively Target Energetic Vulnerabilities in Leukemia

By Benjamin J Reisman, Hui Guo, Haley E Ramsey, Madison T Wright, Bradley I Reinfeld, P. Brent Ferrell, Gary A Sulikowski, W. Kimryn Rathmell, Michael R Savona, Lars Plate, John L Rubinstein, Brian O Bachmann

Posted 31 May 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.31.445492

Cancer cells have long been recognized to exhibit unique bioenergetic requirements. The apoptolidin family of glycomacrolides are distinguished by their selective cytotoxicity towards oncogene transformed cells, yet their molecular mechanism remains uncertain. We used photoaffinity analogs of the apoptolidins to identify the F1 subcomplex of mitochondrial ATP synthase as the target of apoptolidin A. CryoEM of apoptolidin and ammocidin-ATP synthase complexes revealed a novel shared mode of inhibition that was confirmed by deep mutational scanning of the binding interface to reveal resistance mutations which were confirmed using CRISPR-Cas9. Ammocidin A was found to suppress leukemia progression in vivo at doses that were tolerated with minimal toxicity. The combination of cellular, structural, mutagenesis, and in vivo evidence define the mechanism of action of apoptolidin family glycomacrolides and establish a path to address OXPHOS-dependent cancers.

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