In Silico Modeling-based Identification of Glucose Transporter 4 (GLUT4)-selective Inhibitors for Cancer Therapy

Rama K. Mishra, Changyong Wei, Richard C. Hresko, Richa Bajpai, Monique Heitmeier, Shannon M. Matulis, Ajay K. Nooka, Steven T. Rosen, Paul W. Hruz, Gary E. Schiltz, Mala Shanmugam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Tumor cells relyonelevated glucose consumption and metabolism for survival and proliferation. Glucose transporters mediating glucose entry are key proximal rate-limiting checkpoints. Unlike GLUT1 thatishighly expressed in cancer and more ubiquitously expressed in normal tissues, GLUT4 exhibits more limited normal expression profiles. Wehave previously determined that insulin-responsive GLUT4 is constitutively localized on the plasma membrane of myeloma cells. Consequently, suppression of GLUT4 or inhibition of glucose transport with the HIV protease inhibitor ritonavir elicited growth arrest and/or apoptosis in multiple myeloma. GLUT4 inhibition also caused sensitization to metformin in multiple myeloma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia and a number of solid tumors suggesting the broader therapeutic utility of targeting GLUT4. This study sought to identify selective inhibitors of GLUT4 to develop a more potent cancer chemotherapeutic with fewer potential offtarget effects. Recently, the crystal structure of GLUT1 in an inward open conformation was reported. Although this is an important achievement, a full understanding of the structural biologyoffacilitative glucose transport remains elusive. Todate, there is no three-dimensional structure for GLUT4. We have generated a homology model for GLUT4 that we utilized to screen for drug-like compounds from a library of 18 million compounds. Despite 68% homology between GLUT1 and GLUT4, our virtual screen identified two potent compounds that were shown to target GLUT4 preferentially over GLUT1 and block glucose transport. Our results strongly bolster the utility of developing GLUT4-selective inhibitors as anti-cancer therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14441-14453
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 5 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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