RK-33 radiosensitizes prostate cancer cells by blocking the RNA helicase DDX3

Min Xie, Farhad Vesuna, Saritha Tantravedi, Guus M. Bol, Marise R.Heerma Van Voss, Katriana Nugent, Reem Malek, Kathleen Gabrielson, Paul J. Van Diest, Phuoc T. Tran, Venu Raman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer in males and the second highest cause of cancer-related mortality. We identified an RNA helicase gene, DDX3 (DDX3X), which is overexpressed in prostate cancers, and whose expression is directly correlated with high Gleason scores. Knockdown of DDX3 in the aggressive prostate cancer cell lines DU145 and 22Rv1 resulted in significantly reduced clonogenicity. To target DDX3, we rationally designed a small molecule, RK-33, which docks into the ATP-binding domain of DDX3. Functional studies indicated that RK-33 preferentially bound to DDX3 and perturbed its activity. RK-33 treatment of prostate cancer cell lines DU145, 22Rv1, and LNCaP (which have high DDX3 levels) decreased proliferation and induced a G1 phase cell-cycle arrest. Conversely, the low DDX3-expressing cell line, PC3, exhibited few changes following RK-33 treatment. Importantly, combination studies using RK-33 and radiation exhibited synergistic effects both in vitro and in a xenograft model of prostate cancer demonstrating the role of RK-33 as a radiosensitizer. Taken together, these results indicate that blocking DDX3 by RK-33 in combination with radiation treatment is a viable option for treating locally advanced prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6340-6350
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Research
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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