• Authors: D'Amore C. et al.
  • Year: 2020
  • Journal: BBA Mol Cell Res 1867 118807
  • Applications: in vitro / DNA / jetOPTIMUS
  • Cell type: Hep G2
    Description: Human hepatocarcinoma cells


Methuosis has been described as a distinctive form of cell death characterized by the displacement of large fluid-filled vacuoles derived from uncontrolled macropinocytosis. Its induction has been proposed as a new strategy against cancer cells. Small molecules, such as indole-based calchones, have been identified as methuosis inducers and, recently, the CK2 inhibitor CX-4945 has been shown to have a similar effect on different cell types. However, the contribution of protein kinase CK2 to methuosis signalling is still controversial. Here we show that methuosis is not related to CK2 activity since it is not affected by structurally unrelated CK2 inhibitors and genetic reduction/ablation of CK2 subunits. Interestingly, CX-5011, a CK2 inhibitor related to CX-4945, behaves as a CK2-independent methuosis inducer, four times more powerful than its parental compound and capable to promote the formation on enlarged cytosolic vacuoles at low micromolar concentrations. We show that pharmacological inhibition of the small GTPase Rac-1, its downregulation by siRNA treatment, or the over-expression of the dominant-negative mutated form of Rac-1 (Rac-1 T17N), impairs CX-5011 ability to induce methuosis. Furthermore, cell treatment with CX-5011 induces a durable activation of Rac-1 that persists for at least 24 h. Worthy of note, CX-5011 is able to promote macropinocytosis not only in mammalian cells, but also in an in-vivo zebrafish model. Based on these evidences, CX-5011 is, therefore, proposed as a potential promising compound for cancer therapies for its dual efficacy as an inhibitor of the pro-survival kinase CK2 and inducer of methuosis.