The enzyme iodothyronine deiodinase type 3 (DIO3) contributes to cancer proliferation by inactivating the tumor-suppressive actions of thyroid hormone (T3). We recently established DIO3 involvement in the progression of high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC). Here we provide a link between high DIO3 expression and lower survival in patients, similar to common disease markers such as Ki67, PAX8, CA-125, and CCNE1. These observations suggest that DIO3 is a logical target for inhibition. Using a DIO3 mimic, we developed original DIO3 inhibitors that contain a core of dibromomaleic anhydride (DBRMD) as scaffold. Two compounds, PBENZ-DBRMD and ITYR-DBRMD, demonstrated attenuated cell counts, induction in apoptosis, and a reduction in cell proliferation in DIO3-positive HGSOC cells (OVCAR3 and KURAMOCHI), but not in DIO3-negative normal ovary cells (CHOK1) and OVCAR3 depleted for DIO3 or its substrate, T3. Potent tumor inhibition with a high safety profile was further established in HGSOC xenograft model, with no effect in DIO3-depleted tumors. The antitumor effects are mediated by downregulation in an array of pro-cancerous proteins, the majority of which known to be repressed by T3. To conclude, using small molecules that specifically target the DIO3 enzyme we present a new treatment paradigm for ovarian cancer and potentially other DIO3-dependent malignancies.
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The work of DM was done in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a PhD degree from the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel. OA-F and BL received support from the Israel Innovation Authority, Nofar Program for Applied Research in Academia, Ministry of Economics (Project 59435).
BL, GM, TL, and OA-F hold a patent for DIO3 inhibitors or are involved in patent commercialization. The other authors declare no potential conflict of interest.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
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Moskovich, D., Finkelshtein, Y., Alfandari, A. et al. Targeting the DIO3 enzyme using first-in-class inhibitors effectively suppresses tumor growth: a new paradigm in ovarian cancer treatment. Oncogene 40, 6248–6257 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41388-021-02020-z
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