Efficacy of novel aminooxyacetic acid prodrugs in colon cancer models: Towards clinical translation of the cystathionine β-synthase inhibition concept

Mark R. Hellmich, Celia Chao, Katalin Módis, Ye Ding, John Zatarain, Ketan Thanki, Manjit Maskey, Nadiya Druzhyna, Ashley A. Untereiner, Akbar Ahmad, Yu Xue, Haiying Chen, William K. Russell, Jianmei Wang, Jia Zhou, Csaba Szabo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Upregulation of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) biosynthesis, at least in part related to the upregulation of cystathionine β-synthetase (CBS) in cancer cells, serves as a tumor-promoting factor and has emerged as a possible molecular target for antitumor drug development. To facilitate future clinical translation, we have synthesized a variety of novel CBS-targeting, esterase-cleavable prodrugs based on the structure of the prototypical CBS inhibitor aminooxyacetic acid (AOAA). The pharmacological properties of these compounds were evaluated in cell-free assays with recombinant human CBS protein, the human colon cancer cell line HCT116, and in vivo using various tumor-bearing mice models. The prodrug YD0251 (the isopropyl ester derivative of AOAA) was selected for detailed characterization. YD0251 exhibits improved antiproliferative efficacy in cell culture models when compared to AOAA. It is up to 18 times more potent than AOAA at suppressing HCT116 tumor growth in vivo and is effective when administered to tumor-bearing mice either via subcutaneous injection or oral gavage. Patient-derived xenografts (PDTXs) with higher levels of CBS protein grew significantly larger than tumors with lower levels, and YD0251 treatment inhibited the growth of PDTXs with elevated CBS, whereas it had no significant effect on PDTXs with low CBS protein levels. The toxicity of YD0251 was assessed in mice subjected to subchronic administration of supratherapeutic doses the inhibitor; no significant alteration in circulating markers of organ injury or histopathological alterations were noted, up to 60 mg/kg/day × 5 days. In preparation to a future theranostic concept (to match CBS inhibitor therapy to high-CBS expressors), we identified a potential plasma marker of CBS-expressing tumors. Colon cancer cells produced significant levels of lanthionine, a rare metabolic intermediate of CBS-mediated H2S biosynthesis; forced expression of CBS into non-transformed epithelial cells increased lanthionine biogenesis in vitro and in vivo (measured in the urine of tumor-bearing mice). These current results may be useful to facilitate the translation of a CBS inhibition-based antitumor concept into the clinical space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1073
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Anticancer
  • Biomarker
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Prodrug

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Efficacy of novel aminooxyacetic acid prodrugs in colon cancer models: Towards clinical translation of the cystathionine β-synthase inhibition concept'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this