The role of small molecule platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) inhibitors in the treatment of neoplastic disorders

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Abstract

Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) was discovered as a serum-derived component necessary for the growth of smooth muscle cells, fibroblasts, and glial cells. The PDGF family is a product of four gene products and consists of five dimeric isoforms: PDGF-AA, PDGF-BB, PDGF-CC, PDGF-DD, and the PDGF-AB heterodimer. This growth factor family plays an essential role in embryonic development and in wound healing in the adult. These growth factors mediate their effects by binding to and activating their receptor protein-tyrosine kinases, which are encoded by two genes: PDGFRA and PDGFRB. The functional receptors consist of the PDGFRα/α and PDGFRβ/β homodimers and the PDGFRα/β heterodimer. Although PDGF signaling is most closely associated with mesenchymal cells, PDGFs and PDGF receptors are widely expressed in the mammalian central nervous system. The PDGF receptors contain an extracellular domain that is made up of five immunoglobulin-like domains (Ig-d1/2/3/4/5), a transmembrane segment, a juxtamembrane segment, a protein-tyrosine kinase domain that contains an insert of about 100 amino acid residues, and a carboxyterminal tail. Although uncommon, activating mutations in the genes for PDGF or PDGF receptors have been documented in various neoplasms including dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) and gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). In most neoplastic diseases, PDGF expression and action appear to involve the tumor stroma. Moreover, this family is pro-angiogenic. More than ten PDGFRα/β multikinase antagonists have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of several neoplastic disorders and interstitial pulmonary fibrosis (www.brimr.org/PKI/PKIs.htm). Type I protein kinase inhibitors interact with the active enzyme form with DFG-D of the proximal activation segment directed inward toward the active site (DFG-Din). In contrast, type II inhibitors bind to their target with the DFG-D pointing away from the active site (DFG-Dout). We used the Schrödinger induced-fit docking protocol to model the interaction of several antagonists with PDGFRα including imatinib, sorafenib, and sunitinib. The results indicate that these antagonists are able to bind to the DFG-Dout conformation of the receptor and are thus classified as type II inhibitors. Owing to the multiplicity of less active protein kinase conformations when compared with the canonical more active conformation, it was hypothesized that type II drugs would be less promiscuous than type I drugs which bind to the typical active conformation. Although type II inhibitors may be more selective, most – if not all – inhibit more than one target protein kinase and the differences are a matter of degree only.

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