Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology 2017 November 10 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Matherly LH, Hou Z, Gangjee A


This review considers the “promise” of exploiting the proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT) for selective therapeutic targeting of cancer. PCFT was discovered in 2006 and was identified as the principal folate transporter involved in the intestinal absorption of dietary folates. The recognition that PCFT was highly expressed in many tumors stimulated substantial interest in using PCFT for cytotoxic drug targeting, taking advantage of its high level transport activity under the acidic pH conditions that characterize many tumors. For pemetrexed, among the best PCFT substrates, transport by PCFT establishes its importance as a clinically important transporter in malignant pleural mesothelioma and non-small cell lung cancer. In recent years, the notion of PCFT-targeting has been extended to a new generation of tumor-targeted 6-substituted pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidine compounds that are structurally and functionally distinct from pemetrexed, and that exhibit near exclusive transport by PCFT and potent inhibition of de novo purine nucleotide biosynthesis. Based on compelling preclinical evidence in a wide range of human tumor models, it is now time to advance the most optimized PCFT-targeted agents with the best balance of PCFT transport specificity and potent antitumor efficacy to the clinic to validate this novel paradigm of highly selective tumor targeting.