Pharmacological characterization of a novel metal-based proteasome inhibitor Na-AuPT for cancer treatment

Da cai Xu, Li Yang, Pei quan Zhang, Ding Yan, Qian Xue, Qing tian Huang, Xiao fen Li, Ya li Hao, Dao lin Tang, Q. Ping Dou, Xin Chen, Jin bao Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) is essential for maintaining cell homeostasis by orchestrating the protein degradation, but is impaired in various diseases, including cancers. Several proteasome inhibitors, such as bortezomib, are currently used in cancer treatment, but associated toxicity limits their widespread application. Recently metal complex-based drugs have attracted great attention in tumor therapy; however, their application is hindered by low water-solubility and poor absorbency. Herein, we synthesized a new type of gold (I) complex named Na-AuPT, and further characterized its anticancer activity. Na-AuPT is highly water-soluble (6 mg/mL), and it was able to potently inhibit growth of a panel of 11 cancer cell lines (A549, SMMC7721, H460, HepG2, BEL7402, LNCap, PC3, MGC-803, SGC-7901, U266, and K562). In A549 and SMMC7721 cells, Na-AuPT (in a range of 2.5–20 μM) inhibited the UPS function in a dose-dependent fashion by targeting and inhibiting both 20 S proteasomal proteolytic peptidases and 19 S proteasomal deubiquitinases. Furthermore, Na-AuPT induced caspase-dependent apoptosis in A549 and SMMC7721 cells, which was prevented by the metal chelator EDTA. Administration of Na-AuPT (40 mg · kg−1 · d1, ip) in nude mice bearing A549 or SMMC7721 xenografts significantly inhibited the tumor growth in vivo, accompanied by increased levels of total ubiquitinated proteins, cleaved caspase 3 and Bax protein in tumor tissue. Moreover, Na-AuPT induced cell death of primary mononuclear cells from 5 patients with acute myeloid leukemia ex vivo with an average IC50 value of 2.46 μM. We conclude that Na-AuPT is a novel metal-based proteasome inhibitor that may hold great potential for cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2128-2138
Number of pages11
JournalActa Pharmacologica Sinica
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Na-AuPT
  • apoptosis
  • bortezomib
  • cancer therapy
  • deubiquitinase
  • gold complex
  • proteasome
  • ubiquitin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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