Our previous big data analyses showed a high level of association between chitinase-3-like protein 1 (CHI3L1) expression and lung tumor development. In the present study, we investigated whether a CHI3L1-inhibiting chemical, 2-({3-[2-(1-cyclohexen-1-yl)ethyl]-6,7-dimethoxy-4-oxo-3,4-dihydro-2-quinazolinyl}sulfanyl)-N-(4-ethylphenyl)butanamide (K284), could inhibit lung metastasis, and studied its mechanism of action. We investigated the anti-tumor effect of K284 both in vitro and in vivo. K284 (0.5 mg/kg body weight) significantly inhibited lung metastasis in in vivo models after injection of murine melanoma cells (B16F10) or adenocarcinomic human alveolar basal epithelial cells (A549). K284 significantly and concentration-dependently also inhibited cancer cell proliferation and migration in the A549 and H460 lung cancer cell lines. We found that the binding of K284 to the chitin-binding domain (CBD) of CHI3L1 prevented the binding of CHI3L1 to its receptor, interleukin-13 receptor subunit alpha-2 (IL-13Rα2), thereby suppressing the CHI3L1 signal. This blocking of the CHI3L1-IL-13Rα2 signal caused the inhibition of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)-activator protein-1 (AP-1) signals, resulting in the prevention of lung metastasis and cancer cell growth. Our data demonstrate that K284 may serve as a potential candidate anti-cancer compound targeting CHI3L1.
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