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Efavirenz as a potential drug for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancers

Chiou, PT;Ohms, S;Board, PG;Dahlstrom, JE;Rangasamy, D;Casarotto, MG;

In contrast to hormone receptor driven breast cancer, patients presenting with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) often have limited drug treatment options. Efavirenz, a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitor targets abnormally overexpressed long interspersed nuclear element 1 (LINE-1) RT and has been shown to be a promising anticancer agent for treating prostate and pancreatic cancers. However, its effectiveness in treating patients with TNBC has not been comprehensively examined. In this study, the effect of Efavirenz on several TNBC cell lines was investigated by examining several cellular characteristics including viability, cell division and death, changes in cell morphology as well as the expression of LINE-1. The results show that in a range of TNBC cell lines, Efavirenz causes cell death, retards cell proliferation and changes cell morphology to an epithelial-like phenotype. In addition, it is the first time that a whole-genome RNA sequence analysis has identified the fatty acid metabolism pathway as a key regulator in this Efavirenz-induced anticancer process. In summary, we propose Efavirenz is a potential anti-TNBC drug and that its mode of action can be linked to the fatty acid metabolism pathway.