Anticancer activity of pyrimethamine via ubiquitin mediated degradation of AIMP2-DX2

Dae Gyu Kim, Chul Min Park, Srigouri Huddar, Semi Lim, Sunghoon Kim, Sunkyung Lee

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7 Citations (Scopus)


While aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase-interacting multifunctional protein 2 (AIMP2) is a tumor suppressor, its exon 2-depleted splice variant (AIMP2-DX2 or shortly DX2) is highly expressed in human lung cancer, and the ratio of DX2 to AIMP2 increases according to the progression of lung cancer. In this study, pyrimethamine inhibited the level of DX2 (IC50 = 0.73 μM) in A549 cells expressing nanoluciferase-tagged DX2. In a panel of 5 lung cancer cell lines with various DX2 levels, pyrimethamine most potently suppressed the growth of H460 cells, which express high levels of DX2 (GI50 = 0.01 μM). An immunoblot assay in H460 cells showed that pyrimethamine decreased the DX2 level dose-dependently but did not affect the AIMP2 level. Further experiments confirmed that pyrimethamine resulted in ubiquitination-mediated DX2 degradation. In an in vivo mouse xenograft assay using H460 cells, intraperitoneal administration of pyrimethamine significantly reduced the tumor size and weight, comparable with the effects of taxol, without affecting body weight. Analysis of tumor tissue showed a considerably high concentration of pyrimethamine with a decreased levels of DX2. These results suggest that pyrimethamine, currently used as anti-parasite drug, could be repurposed to treat lung cancer patients expressing high level of DX2.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2763
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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