Lung cancer is a leading fatal malignancy due to the high incidence of treatment failure. Dysfunction of the tumor suppressor p53 contributes to cancer initiation, progression, and therapeutic resistance. Targeting MDM2, a negative regulator of p53, has recently attracted interest in cancer drug research as it may restore tumor suppressive function.
The present study aimed to investigate the effect of 3,4-dihydroxy-5,4′-dimethoxybibenzyl (DS-1) on targeting MDM2 and restoring p53 function in lung cancer cells.
The efficacy of DS-1 alone or in combination with cisplatin in lung cancer cells was determined by MTT, nuclear staining, and annexin V/PI assay. The expression of apoptosis-related proteins was determined by western blot analysis. To evaluate the role of DS-1 on the stabilization and degradation of p53, cycloheximide chasing assay and immunoprecipitation were conducted, and the active form of p53 was investigated by immunofluorescent staining assay. To confirm and demonstrate the site interaction between DS-1 and the MDM2 protein, in silico computational analysis was performed.
DS-1 exhibited a cytotoxic effect and sensitized lung cancer cells to cisplatin-induced apoptosis. DS-1 caused a significant increase in the cellular level of p53 protein, while the active form of p53 (phosphorylation at Ser15) was unaltered. DS-1 treatment in combination with cisplatin could enhance activated p-p53 (Ser15) and p53 downstream signaling (Bax, Bcl-2, and Akt), leading to a higher level of apoptosis. Immunoprecipitation analysis revealed that DS-1 decreased the p53-ubiquitin complex, a prerequisite step in p53 proteasomal degradation. Molecular docking simulation further evidenced that DS-1 interacts with MDM2 within the p53-binding domain by carbon-hydrogen bond interaction at Lys27, π-alkyl interactions at Ile37 and Leu30, and van der Waals interactions at Ile75, Val51, Val69, Phe67, Met38, Tyr43, Gly34, and Phe31. Treatment by DS-1 and cisplatin in patient-derivated primary lung cancer cells showed consistent effects by increasing cisplatin sensitivity.
Our findings provide evidence that DS-1 is an MDM2 inhibitor and its underlying mechanism involves MDM2 binding and p53 induction, which may benefit the development of this compound for lung cancer treatment.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier GmbH.