Cyclin-dependent protein kinase inhibitors including palbociclib as anticancer drugs

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Cyclins and cyclin-dependent protein kinases (CDKs) are important regulatory components that are required for cell cycle progression. The levels of the cell cycle CDKs are generally constant and their activities are controlled by cyclins, proteins whose levels oscillate during each cell cycle. Additional CDK family members were subsequently discovered that play significant roles in a wide range of activities including the control of gene transcription, metabolism, and neuronal function. In response to mitogenic stimuli, cells in the G1 phase of the cell cycle produce cyclins of the D type that activate CDK4/6. These activated enzymes catalyze the monophosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein. Then CDK2-cyclin E catalyzes the hyperphosphorylation of Rb that promotes the release and activation of the E2F transcription factors, which in turn lead to the generation of several proteins required for cell cycle progression. As a result, cells pass through the G1-restriction point and are committed to complete cell division. CDK2-cyclin A, CDK1-cyclin A, and CDK1-cyclin B are required for S, G2, and M-phase progression. Increased cyclin or CDK expression or decreased levels of endogenous CDK inhibitors such as INK4 or CIP/KIP have been observed in various cancers. In contrast to the mutational activation of EGFR, Kit, or B-Raf in the pathogenesis of malignancies, mutations in the CDKs that cause cancers are rare. Owing to their role in cell proliferation, CDKs represent natural targets for anticancer therapies. Abemaciclib (LY2835219), ribociclib (Lee011), and palbociclib (Ibrance® or PD0332991) target CDK4/6 with IC50 values in the low nanomolar range. Palbociclib and other CDK inhibitors bind in the cleft between the small and large lobes of the CDKs and inhibit the binding of ATP. Like ATP, palbociclib forms hydrogen bonds with residues in the hinge segment of the cleft. Like the adenine base of ATP, palbociclib interacts with catalytic spine residues CS6 and CS7. CDK antagonists are in clinical trials for the treatment of a variety of malignancies. Significantly, palbociclib has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of hormone-receptor positive/human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 negative breast cancer in conjunction with letrozole as a first-line therapy and with fulvestrant as a second-line treatment. As inhibitors of the cell cycle, it is not surprising that one of their most common toxicities is myelosuppression with decreased neutrophil production.

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