Dual inhibition of REV-ERBβ and autophagy as a novel pharmacological approach to induce cytotoxicity in cancer cells

C. De Mei, L. Ercolani, C. Parodi, M. Veronesi, C. Lo Vecchio, G. Bottegoni, E. Torrente, R. Scarpelli, R. Marotta, R. Ruffili, M. Mattioli, A. Reggiani, M. Wade, B. Grimaldi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


REV-ERBα and REV-ERBβ nuclear receptors regulate several physiological processes, including circadian rhythm and metabolism. A previous study reported the REV-ERBα gene to be co-overexpressed with ERBB2 in breast cancer cell lines. Surprisingly, we found that several tumor types, including a number of breast cancer cell lines, predominantly express the REV-ERBβ variant. This pattern was independent of ERBB2 and ER status, and opposite to that of non-cancer mammary epithelial HMEC cells, in which REV-ERBα was the major variant. Consistent with this molecular profile, REV-ERB target genes in both circadian and metabolic pathways were derepressed upon silencing of REV-ERBβ, but not REV-ERBα. Strikingly, we found that REV-ERBβ is a determinant of sensitivity to chloroquine, a clinically relevant lysosomotropic agent that suppresses autophagy. The cytoprotective function of REV-ERBβ appears to operate downstream of autophagy blockade. Through compound screening, we identified ARN5187, a novel lysosomotropic REV-ERBβ ligand with a dual inhibitory activity toward REV-ERB-mediated transcriptional regulation and autophagy. Remarkably, although ARN5187 and chloroquine share similar lysosomotropic potency and have a similar effect on autophagy inhibition, ARN5187 is significantly more cytotoxic. Collectively, our results reveal that dual inhibition of REV-ERBβ and autophagy is an effective strategy for eliciting cytotoxicity in cancer cells. Furthermore, our discovery of a novel inhibitor compound of both REV-ERB and autophagy may provide a scaffold for the discovery of new multifunctional anticancer agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2597-2608
Number of pages12
Issue number20
Early online date14 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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