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Karyopherin beta 1 (Kpnβ1) is a major nuclear import receptor that mediates the import of cellular cargoes into the nucleus. Recently it has been shown that Kpnβ1 is highly expressed in several cancers, and its inhibition by siRNA induces apoptotic cancer cell death, while having little effect on non-cancer cells. This study investigated the effect of a novel small molecule, Inhibitor of Nuclear Import-60 (INI-60), on cancer cell biology, as well as nuclear import activities associated with Kpnβ1, and cancer progression in vivo using cervical and oesophageal cancer cell lines. INI-60 treatment resulted in the inhibition of cancer cell proliferation, colony formation, migration and invasion, and induced a G1/S cell cycle arrest, followed by cancer cell death via apoptosis. Non-cancer cells were minimally affected by INI-60 at concentrations that inhibited cancer cells. INI-60 treatment altered the localisation of Kpnβ1 and its cargoes, NFκB/p65, NFAT and AP-1, and the overexpression of Kpnβ1 reduced INI-60 cytotoxicity. INI-60 also inhibited KYSE 30 oesophageal cancer cell line growth in vivo. Taken together, these results show that INI-60 inhibits the nuclear import of Kpnβ1 cargoes and interferes with cancer cell biology. INI-60 presents as a potential therapeutic approach for cancers of different tissue origins and warrants further investigation as a novel anti-cancer agent. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Aderonke Ajayi-Smith, Pauline van der Watt, Nonkululeko Mkwanazi, Sarah Carden, John O Trent, Virna D Leaner. Novel small molecule inhibitor of Kpnβ1 induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in cancer cells. Experimental cell research. 2021 Jul 15;404(2):112637

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PMID: 34019908

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