Specific mutations in the D1–D2 linker region of VCP/p97 enhance ATPase activity and confer resistance to VCP inhibitors

Prabhakar Bastola, Feng Wang, Matthew A. Schaich, Taiping Gan, Bret D. Freudenthal, Tsui Fen Chou, Jeremy Chien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Valosin-containing protein (VCP), together with several partner proteins, extracts ubiquitinated client proteins from E3 ligase complex and facilitates their degradation through ubiquitin–proteasome system. Therefore, it plays an important role in regulating protein quality control and various cellular pathways. Recent studies also identified VCP as a lineage-specific essential gene in ovarian cancer. An orally bioavailable VCP inhibitor, CB-5083, is currently in Phase I clinical trials because it shows therapeutic effects in multiple tumor xenograft models. However, the mechanism of resistance to CB-5083 is unknown. Here, we characterized molecular mechanism of resistance to CB-5083. Using incremental exposure to CB-5083, we established CB-5083-resistant ovarian cancer cells that showed five- to six-fold resistance in vitro compared with parental cells. Genomic and complementary DNA sequencing of the VCP coding region revealed a pattern of co-selected mutations: (1) missense mutations at codon 470 in one copy resulting in increased ATPase activity and (2) nonsense or frameshift mutations at codon 606 or codon 616 in another copy causing the loss of allele-specific expression. Unbiased molecular docking studies showed codon 470 as a putative binding site for CB-5083. Furthermore, the analysis of somatic mutations in cancer genomes from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) indicated that codon 616 contains hotspot mutations in VCP. Thus, identification of these mutations associated with in vitro resistance to VCP inhibitors may be useful as potential theranostic markers while screening for patients to enroll in clinical trials. VCP has emerged as a viable therapeutic target for several cancer types, and therefore targeting such hyperactive VCP mutants should aid in improving the therapeutic outcome in cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17065
JournalCell Death Discovery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 4 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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