Sigma-2 receptor ligand as a novel method for delivering a SMAC mimetic drug for treating ovarian cancer

C. Zeng, S. Vangveravong, J. E. Mcdunn, W. G. Hawkins, R. H. Mach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background:The sigma-2 receptor has been validated as a biomarker for proliferating tumours. Second mitochondria-derived activator of caspase (Smac) is a protein released from mitochondria into the cytosol, leading to apoptosis. In this study, we investigated a sigma-2 ligand as a tumour-targeting drug delivery agent for treating ovarian cancer.Methods:A sigma-2 ligand, SW 43, was conjugated with a Smac mimetic compound (SMC), SW IV-52s, to form SW III-123. The delivery function of the sigma-2 moiety and cell killing mechanisms of SW III-123 were examined in human ovarian cancer cell lines.Results:SW III-123 internalisation into ovarian cancer cells was mediated by sigma-2 receptors. SW III-123, but not SW IV-52s or SW 43, exhibited potent cytotoxicity in human ovarian cancer cell lines SKOV-3, CaOV-3 and BG-1 after 24-h treatment, suggesting that the sigma-2 ligand successfully delivered SMC into ovarian cancer cells. SW III-123 induced rapid degradation of inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (cIAP1 and cIAP2), accumulation of NF-κB-inducing kinase (NIK) and phosphorylation of NF-κB p65, suggesting that SW III-123 activated both canonical and noncanonical NF-κB pathways in SKOV-3 cells. SW III-123 cleaved caspase-8, -9 and -3. Tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) antibody markedly blocked SW III-123-induced cell death and caspase-3 activity in SKOV-3 cells, indicating that SW III-123 activated both intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathways and induced TNFα-dependent cell death in SKOV-3 cells.Conclusion:Sigma-2 ligands are a promising tumour-targeting drug delivery agent. Sigma-2-conjugated SMC exemplifies a novel class of therapeutic drugs for treating ovarian cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2368-2377
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 29 2013


  • IAPs
  • Smac
  • drug delivery
  • ovarian cancer
  • sigma-2 receptor


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