Combinatorial therapy of zinc metallochaperones with mutant p53 reactivation and diminished copper binding

Saif Zaman, Xin Yu, Anthony F. Bencivenga, Adam R. Blanden, Yue Liu, Tracy Withers, Bing Na, Alan J. Blayney, John Gilleran, David A. Boothman, Stewart N. Loh, S. David Kimball, Darren R. Carpizo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Chemotherapy and radiation are more effective in wild-type (WT) p53 tumors due to p53 activation. This is one rationale for developing drugs that reactivate mutant p53 to synergize with chemotherapy and radiation. Zinc metallochaperones (ZMC) are a new class of mutant p53 reactivators that restore WT structure and function to zinc-deficient p53 mutants. We hypothesized that the thiosemicarbazone, ZMC1, would synergize with chemotherapy and radiation. Surprisingly, this was not found. We explored the mechanism of this and found the reactive oxygen species (ROS) activity of ZMC1 negates the signal on p53 that is generated with chemotherapy and radiation. Wehypothesized that a zinc scaffold generating lessROS would synergize with chemotherapy and radiation. The ROS effect of ZMC1 is generated by its chelation of redox active copper. ZMC1 copper binding (KCu) studies reveal its affinity for copper is approximately 108 greater than Zn2+. We identified an alternative zinc scaffold (nitrilotriacetic acid) and synthesized derivatives to improve cell permeability. These compounds bind zinc in the same range as ZMC1 but bound copper much less avidly (106- to 107-fold lower) and induced less ROS. These compounds were synergistic with chemotherapy and radiation by inducing p53 signaling events on mutant p53. We explored other combinations with ZMC1 based on its mechanism of action and demonstrate that ZMC1 is synergistic with MDM2 antagonists, BCL2 antagonists, and molecules that deplete cellular reducing agents. We have identified an optimal Cu2+:Zn2+ binding ratio to facilitate development of ZMCs as chemotherapy and radiation sensitizers. Although ZMC1 is not synergistic with chemotherapy and radiation, it is synergistic with a number of other targeted agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1355-1365
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Combinatorial therapy of zinc metallochaperones with mutant p53 reactivation and diminished copper binding'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this