NUC-7738 regulates β-catenin signalling resulting in reduced proliferation and self-renewal of AML cells
Shahid AM., Um IH., Elshani M., Zhang Y., Harrison DJ.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) stem cells are required for the initiation and maintenance of the disease. Activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway is required for the survival and development of AML leukaemia stem cells (LSCs) and therefore, targeting β-catenin is a potential therapeutic strategy. NUC-7738, a phosphoramidate transformation of 3’-deoxyadenosine (3’-dA) monophosphate, is specifically designed to generate the active anti-cancer metabolite 3’-deoxyadenosine triphosphate (3’-dATP) intracellularly, bypassing key limitations of breakdown, transport, and activation. NUC-7738 is currently in a Phase I/II clinical study for the treatment of patients with advanced solid tumors. Protein expression and immunophenotypic profiling revealed that NUC-7738 caused apoptosis in AML cell lines through reducing PI3K-p110α, phosphorylated Akt (Ser473) and phosphorylated GSK3β (Ser9) resulting in reduced β-catenin, c-Myc and CD44 expression. NUC-7738 reduced β-catenin nuclear expression in AML cells. NUC-7738 also decreased the percentage of CD34+ CD38- CD123+ (LSC-like cells) from 81% to 47% and reduced the total number and size of leukemic colonies. These results indicate that therapeutic targeting of the PI3K/Akt/GSK3β axis can inhibit β-catenin signalling, resulting in reduced clonogenicity and eventual apoptosis of AML cells.