Porphyrins to restrict progression of pancreatic cancer by stabilizing KRAS G-quadruplex: In silico, in vitro and in vivo validation of anticancer strategy

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KRAS, a frequently mutated G-quadruplex forming proto-oncogene is responsible for almost every type of cancer which can form a parallel G-quadruplex structure in the promoter region. G-quadruplex structure is one of the most important drug targets for modern cancer therapy for their unique structure and specificity. Here, we have screened several synthetic porphyrin-based compounds as potential KRAS G-quadruplex stabilizing ligands, using molecular modeling and docking studies. Two novel porphyrins: Porphyrin-1(Cobalt containing) and Porphyrin-2 (Palladium containing) evidenced high affinity towards KRAS-promoter/G-quadruplex. As KRAS mutation is prevalent in pancreatic cancer, the efficacy of these ligands against human pancreatic ductal carcinoma cell line PANC-1 and MiaPaCa2 were examined. Both the Porphyrins exhibited significant cytotoxicity and block metastasis by inhibiting Epithelial to messenchymal transition. In vivo studies confirmed both porphyrin compounds to be effective against EAC tumors along with significantly low toxicity against normal Swiss albino mice. The expression of KRAS gene in porphyrin-treated PANC-1, MiaPaCa2 and tumor-derived EAC cells were drastically reduced at both protein and RNA levels. Thus interaction of porphyrin-based ligands with G-quadruplex DNA at the promoter region of KRAS, might be utilized as a target for anticancer therapeutic strategy.

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