Computer-Based identification of a novel LIMK1/2 inhibitor that synergizes with salirasib to destabilize the actin cytoskeleton

Efrat Mashiach-Farkash, Roni Rak, Galit Elad-Sfadia, Roni Haklai, Shmuel Carmeli, Yoel Kloog*, Haim J. Wolfson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neurofibromin regulates cell motility via three distinct GTPase pathways acting through two different domains, the Ras GTPase-activating protein-related domain (GRD) and the pre-GRD domain. First, the GRD domain inhibits Ras-dependent changes in cell motility through the mitogen activated protein cascade. Second, it also regulates Rho-dependent (Ras-independent) changes by activating LIM kinase 2 (LIMK2), an enzyme that phosphorylates and inactivates cofilin (an actin-depolymerizing factor). Third, the pre-GRD domain acts through the Rac1 GTPase, that activate the P21 activated kinase 1 (PAK1)-LIMK1-cofilin pathway. We employed molecular modeling to identify a novel inhibitor of LIMK1/2. The active sites of an ephrin-A receptor (EphA3) and LIMK2 showed marked similarity (60%). On testing a known inhibitor of EphA3, we found that it fits to the LIMK1/2-ATP binding site and to the latter's substrate-binding pockets. We identified a similar compound, T56-LIMKi, and found that it inhibits LIMK1/2 kinase activities. It blocked the phosphorylation of cofilin which led to actin severance and inhibition of tumor cell migration, tumor cell growth, and anchorage-independent colony formation in soft agar. Because modulation of LIMK by neurofibromin is not affected by the Ras inhibitor Salirasib, we examined the combined effect of Salirasib and T56-LIMKi each of which can affect cell motility by a distinct pathway. We found that their combined action on cell proliferation and stressfiber formation in neurofibromin-deficient cells was synergistic. We suggest that this drug combination may be developed for treatment of neurofibromatosis and cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-639
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Cofilin
  • Limk
  • Rac
  • Ras
  • Rho


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