Identification of novel DNA methylation inhibitors via a two-component reporter gene system

Yi Shiuan Lin, Arthur Y. Shaw, Shi Gang Wang, Chia Chen Hsu, I. Wen Teng, Min Jen Tseng, Tim Hm Huang, Ching Shih Chen, Yu Wei Leu, Shu Huei Hsiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background. Targeting abnormal DNA methylation represents a therapeutically relevant strategy for cancer treatment as demonstrated by the US Food and Drug Administration approval of the DNA methyltransferase inhibitors azacytidine and 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine for the treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes. But their use is associated with increased incidences of bone marrow suppression. Alternatively, procainamide has emerged as a potential DNA demethylating agent for clinical translation. While procainamide is much safer than 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine, it requires high concentrations to be effective in DNA demethylation in suppressing cancer cell growth. Thus, our laboratories have embarked on the pharmacological exploitation of procainamide to develop potent DNA methylation inhibitors through lead optimization. Methods. We report the use of a DNA methylation two-component enhanced green fluorescent protein reporter system as a screening platform to identify novel DNA methylation inhibitors from a compound library containing procainamide derivatives. Results. A lead agent IM25, which exhibits substantially higher potency in GSTp1 DNA demethylation with lower cytotoxicity in MCF7 cells relative to procainamide and 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine, was identified by the screening platform. Conclusions. Our data provide a proof-of-concept that procainamide could be pharmacologically exploited to develop novel DNA methylation inhibitors, of which the translational potential in cancer therapy/prevention is currently under investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3
JournalJournal of Biomedical Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Cell Biology


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