Differentiation therapy has been recently revisited as a prospective approach in cancer therapy by targeting the aberrant growth, and repairing the differentiation and cell death programs of cancer cells. However, differentiation therapy of solid tumors is a challenging issue and progress in this field is limited. We performed High Throughput Screening (HTS) using a novel dual multiplex assay to discover compounds, which induce differentiation of human colon cancer cells. Here we show that the protein arginine methyl transferase (PRMT) type 1 inhibitor, MS023, is a potent inducer of colon cancer cell differentiation with a large therapeutic window. Differentiation changes in the highly aggressive human colon cancer cell line (HT-29) were proved by proteomic and genomic approaches. Growth of HT-29 xenograft in nude mice was significantly delayed upon MS023 treatment and immunohistochemistry of tumor indicated differentiation changes. These findings may lead to development of clinically effective anti-cancer drugs based on the mechanism of cancer cell differentiation.
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