Publication Date



ACS Omega


Mutations in KRAS account for about 20% of human cancers. Despite the major progress in recent years toward the development of KRAS inhibitors, including the discovery of covalent inhibitors of the G12C KRAS variant for the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer, much work remains to be done to discover broad-acting inhibitors to treat many other KRAS-driven cancers. In a previous report, we showed that a 308.4 Da small-molecule ligand [(2R)-2-(N'-(1H-indole-3-carbonyl)hydrazino)-2-phenyl-acetamide] binds to KRAS with low micro-molar affinity [Chem. Biol. Drug Des.2019; 94(2):1441-1456]. Binding of this ligand, which we call ACA22, to the p1 pocket of KRAS and its interactions with residues at beta-strand 1 and the switch loops have been supported by data from nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and microscale thermophoresis experiments. However, the inhibitory potential of the compound was not demonstrated. Here, we show that ACA22 inhibits KRAS-mediated signal transduction in cells expressing wild type (WT) and G12D mutant KRAS and reduces levels of guanosine triphosphate-loaded WT KRAS more effectively than G12D KRAS. We ruled out the direct effect on nucleotide exchange or effector binding as possible mechanisms of inhibition using a variety of biophysical assays. Combining these observations with binding data that show comparable affinities of the compound for the active and inactive forms of the mutant but not the WT, we propose conformational selection as a possible mechanism of action of ACA22.



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