CYP27A1-dependent anti-melanoma activity of limonoid natural products targets mitochondrial metabolism.

Three limonoid natural products with selective anti-proliferative activity against BRAF(V600E) and NRAS(Q61K)-mutation-dependent melanoma cell lines were identified. Differential transcriptome analysis revealed dependency of compound activity on expression of the mitochondrial cytochrome P450 oxidase CYP27A1, a transcriptional target of melanogenesis-associated transcription factor (MITF). We determined that CYP27A1 activity is necessary for the generation of a reactive metabolite that proceeds to inhibit cellular proliferation. A genome-wide small interfering RNA screen in combination with chemical proteomics experiments revealed gene-drug functional epistasis, suggesting that these compounds target mitochondrial biogenesis and inhibit tumor bioenergetics through a covalent mechanism. Our work suggests a strategy for melanoma-specific targeting by exploiting the expression of MITF target gene CYP27A1 and inhibiting mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in BRAF mutant melanomas.
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