A novel small-molecule inhibitor of trefoil factor 3 (TFF3) potentiates MEK1/2 inhibition in lung adenocarcinoma

Mengyi Zhang, Baocheng Wang, Qing Yun Chong, Vijay Pandey, Zhirong Guo, Ru Mei Chen, Lingzhi Wang, Yanxin Wang, Lan Ma, Alan P. Kumar, Tao Zhu, Zheng Sheng Wu, Zhinan Yin, Basappa, Boon Cher Goh, Peter E. Lobie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


TFF3 has been identified as a novel biomarker to distinguish between lung adenocarcinoma (ADC) and lung squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC). Herein, we determined the oncogenic functions of TFF3 and demonstrated the potential of pharmacological inhibition of TFF3 in lung ADC using a novel small-molecule inhibitor of TFF3 dimerization (AMPC). Forced expression of TFF3 in lung ADC cells enhanced cell proliferation and survival, increased anchorage-independent growth, cancer stem cell behavior, growth in 3D Matrigel, and cell migration and invasion. In contrast, depleted expression of TFF3 suppressed these cellular functions. Mechanistically, TFF3 exerted its oncogenic function through upregulation of ARAF and hence enhanced downstream activation of MEK1/2 and ERK1/2. Pharmacological inhibition of TFF3 by AMPC, resulted in markedly decreased cell survival, proliferation, 3D growth and foci formation, and impaired tumor growth in a xenograft mouse model. Moreover, the combination of various MEK1/2 inhibitors with AMPC exhibited synergistic inhibitory effects on lung ADC cell growth. In conclusion, this study provides the first evidence that TFF3 is a potent promoter of lung ADC progression. Targeting TFF3 with a novel small-molecule inhibitor alone or in combination with conventional MEK1/2 inhibitors are potential strategies to improve the outcome of lung ADC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number65
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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