Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) has a poor clinical outcome, due to a lack of actionable therapeutic targets. Herein we define lysosomal acid lipase A (LIPA) as a viable molecular target in TNBC and identify a stereospecific small molecule (ERX-41) that binds LIPA. ERX-41 induces endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress resulting in cell death, and this effect is on target as evidenced by specific LIPA mutations providing resistance. Importantly, we demonstrate that ERX-41 activity is independent of LIPA lipase function but dependent on its ER localization. Mechanistically, ERX-41 binding of LIPA decreases expression of multiple ER-resident proteins involved in protein folding. This targeted vulnerability has a large therapeutic window, with no adverse effects either on normal mammary epithelial cells or in mice. Our study implicates a targeted strategy for solid tumors, including breast, brain, pancreatic and ovarian, whereby small, orally bioavailable molecules targeting LIPA block protein folding, induce ER stress and result in tumor cell death.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research