A SMAP in the face for cancer
Observed deficits in protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) function in a variety of human cancers have stimulated drug discovery efforts aimed at restoring PP2A function to inhibit tumor growth. Work published by Sangodkar et al. in this issue of the JCI describes the characterization of orally available small molecule activators of PP2A (SMAPs). These SMAPs attenuated mitogenic signaling and triggered apoptosis in KRAS-mutant lung cancer cells and inhibited tumor growth in murine models. Tumors with mutations in the SMAP-binding site of the PP2A A subunit displayed resistance to SMAPs. Future studies that identify the PP2A-regulated events targeted by SMAPs should guide critical decisions about which cancers might be best treated with these molecules. This study provides encouraging evidence in favor of SMAPs as potential anticancer drugs.