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Identification and validation nucleolin as a target of curcumol in nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells.


Identification of the specific protein target(s) of a drug is a critical step in unraveling its mechanisms of action (MOA) in many natural products. Curcumol, isolated from well known Chinese medicinal plant Curcuma zedoary, has been shown to possess multiple biological activities. It can inhibit nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) proliferation and induce apoptosis, but its target protein(s) in NPC cells remains unclear. In this study, we employed a mass spectrometry-based chemical proteomics approach reveal the possible protein targets of curcumol in NPC cells. Cellular thermal shift assay (CETSA), molecular docking and cell-based assay was used to validate the binding interactions. Chemical proteomics capturing uncovered that NCL is a target of curcumol in NPC cells, Molecular docking showed that curcumol bound to NCL with an -7.8 kcal/mol binding free energy. Cell function analysis found that curcumol's treatment leads to a degradation of NCL in NPC cells, and it showed slight effects on NP69 cells. In conclusion, our results providing evidences that NCL is a target protein of curcumol. We revealed that the anti-cancer effects of curcumol in NPC cells are mediated, at least in part, by NCL inhibition. Many natural products showed high bioactivity, while their mechanisms of action (MOA) are very poor or completely missed. Understanding the MOA of natural drugs can thoroughly exploit their therapeutic potential and minimize their adverse side effects. Identification of the specific protein target(s) of a drug is a critical step in unraveling its MOA. Compound-centric chemical proteomics is a classic chemical proteomics approach which integrates chemical synthesis with cell biology and mass spectrometry (MS) to identify protein targets of natural products determine the drug mechanism of action, describe its toxicity, and figure out the possible cause of off-target. It is an affinity-based chemical proteomics method to identify small molecule-protein interactions through affinity chromatography approach coupled with mass spectrometry, has been conventionally used to identify target proteins and has yielded good results. Curcumol, has shown effective inhibition on Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma (NPC) Cells, interacted with NCL and then initiated the anti-tumor biological effect. This research demonstrated the effectiveness of chemical proteomics approaches in natural drugs molecular target identification, revealing and understanding of the novel mechanism of actions of curcumol is crucial for cancer prevention and treatment in nasopharynx cancer. Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier B.V.