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1.  Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of 2- (Alkoxycarbonyl)-3-Anilinobenzo[b]thiophenes and Thieno[2,3-b]pyridines as New Potent Anticancer Agents 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2013;56(6):2606-2618.
Two new series of inhibitors of tubulin polymerization based on the 2-(alkoxycarbonyl)-3-(3′,4′,5′-trimethoxyanilino)benzo[b]thiophene and thieno[2,3-b]pyridine molecular skeletons were synthesized and evaluated for antiproliferative activity on a panel of cancer cell lines, inhibition of tubulin polymerization, cell cycle effects, and in vivo potency. Antiproliferative activity was strongly dependent on the position of the methyl group on the benzene portion of the benzo[b]thiophene nucleus, with the greatest activity observed when the methyl was located at the C-6 position. Also, in the smaller thieno[2,3-b]pyridine series, the introduction of the methyl group at the C-6 position resulted in improvement of antiproliferative activity to the nanomolar level. The most active compounds (4i and 4n) did not induce cell death in normal human lymphocytes, suggesting that the compounds may be selective against cancer cells. Compound 4i significantly inhibited in vivo the growth of a syngeneic hepatocellular carcinoma in Balb/c mice.
PMCID: PMC3646584  PMID: 23445496
2.  Toward Highly Potent Cancer Agents by Modulating the C-2 Group of the Arylthioindole Class of Tubulin Polymerization Inhibitors 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2012;56(1):123-149.
New arylthioindole derivatives having different cyclic substituents at position 2 of the indole were synthesized as anticancer agents. Several compounds inhibited tubulin polymerization at submicromolar concentration and inhibited cell growth at low nanomolar concentrations. Compounds 18 and 57 were superior to the previously synthesized 5. Compound 18 was exceptionally potent as an inhibitor of cell growth: it showed IC50 = 1.0 nM in MCF-7 cells, and it was uniformly active in the whole panel of cancer cells and superior to colchicine and combretastatin A-4. Compounds 18, 20, 55, and 57 were notably more potent than vinorelbine, vinblastine, and paclitaxel in the NCI/ADR-RES and Messa/Dx5 cell lines, which overexpress P-glycoprotein. Compounds 18 and 57 showed initial vascular disrupting effects in a tumor model of liver rhabdomyosarcomas at 15 mg/kg intravenous dosage. Derivative 18 showed water solubility and higher metabolic stability than 5 in human liver microsomes.
PMCID: PMC3563301  PMID: 23214452
3.  Discovery and Optimization of a Series of 2-Aryl-4-Amino-5-(3′,4′,5′-trimethoxybenzoyl)Thiazoles as Novel Anticancer Agents 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2012;55(11):5433-5445.
A new series of tubulin polymerization inhibitors based on the 2-aryl/heteroaryl-4-amino-5-(3′,4′,5′-trimethoxybenzoyl)thiazole scaffold was synthesized and evaluated for growth inhibition activity on a panel of cancer cell lines, cell cycle effects, and in vivo potency. Structure–activity relationships were elucidated with various substitutions at the 2-position of the thiazole skeleton. Hydrophobic moieties, such as phenyl and 3-thienyl, were well tolerated at this position, and variation of the phenyl substituents had remarkable effects on potency. The most active compound (3b) induced apoptosis through the mitochondrial pathway with activation of caspase-3. We also showed that it has potential antivascular activity since it reduced in vitro endothelial cell migration and disrupted capillary-like tube formation at noncytotoxic concentrations. Furthermore, compound 3b significantly reduced the growth of the HT-29 xenograft in a nude mouse model, suggesting that 3b is a promising new antimitotic agent with clinical potential.
PMCID: PMC3390948  PMID: 22578111
4.  Substituted 3-(5-Imidazo[2,1-b]thiazolylmethylene)-2-indolinones and Analogues: Synthesis, Cytotoxic Activity and Study of the Mechanism of Action1 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2012;55(5):2078-2088.
The synthesis of substituted 3-(5-imidazo[2,1-b]thiazolylmethylene)-2-indolinones and analogues is reported. Their cytotoxic activity was evaluated according to protocols available at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Bethesda, MD. The action of selected compounds was examined for potential inhibition of tubulin assembly in comparison with the potent colchicine site agent combretastatin A-4. The most potent compounds also strongly and selectively inhibited the phosphorylation of the oncoprotein kinase Akt in cancer cells. The effect of the most interesting compounds was examined on the growth of HT-29 colon cancer cells. These compounds caused the cells to arrest in the G2/M phase of the cell cycle, as would be expected for inhibitors of tubulin assembly.
PMCID: PMC3297693  PMID: 22283430
5.  Synthesis and Evaluation of 1,5-Disubstituted Tetrazoles as Rigid Analogues of Combretastatin A-4 with Potent Antiproliferative and Antitumor Activity 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2011;55(1):475-488.
Tubulin, the major structural component of microtubules, is a target for the development of anticancer agents. Two series of 1,5-diaryl substituted 1,2,3,4-tetrazoles were concisely synthesized, using a palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling reaction, and identified as potent antiproliferative agents and novel tubulin polymerization inhibitors that act at the colchicine site. SAR analysis indicated that compounds with a 4-ethoxyphenyl group at the N-1 or C-5 position of the 1,2,3,4-tetrazole ring exhibited maximal activity. Several of these compounds also had potent activity in inhibiting the growth of multidrug resistant cells overexpressing P-glycoprotein. Active compounds induced apoptosis through the mitochondrial pathway with activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3. Furthermore, compound 4l significantly reduced in vivo the growth of the HT-29 xenograft in a nude mouse model, suggesting that 4l is a promising new antimitotic agent with clinical potential.
PMCID: PMC3266058  PMID: 22136312
6.  Design and Synthesis of 2-Heterocyclyl-3-arylthio-1H-indoles as Potent Tubulin Polymerization and Cell Growth Inhibitors with Improved Metabolic Stability 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2011;54(24):8394-8406.
New arylthioindoles (ATIs) were obtained by replacing the 2-alkoxycarbonyl group with a bioisosteric 5-membered heterocycle nucleus. The new ATIs 5, 8, and 10 inhibited tubulin polymerization, reduced cell growth of a panel of human transformed cell lines, and showed higher metabolic stability than the reference ester 3. These compounds induced mitotic arrest and apoptosis at a similar level as combretastatin A-4 and vinblastine and triggered caspase-3 expression in a significant fraction of cells in both p53-proficient and p53-defective cell lines. Importantly, ATIs 5, 8, and 10 were more effective than vinorelbine, vinblastine, and paclitaxel as growth inhibitors of the P-glycoprotein-overexpressing cell line NCI/ADR-RES. Compound 5 was shown to have medium metabolic stability in both human and mouse liver microsomes, in contrast to the rapidly degraded reference ester 3, and a pharmacokinetic profile in the mouse characterized by a low systemic clearance and excellent oral bioavailability.
PMCID: PMC3261769  PMID: 22044164
7.  Discovery of 7-Hydroxy-6-methoxy-2-methyl-3-(3,4,5- trimethoxybenzoyl)benzo[b]furan (BNC105), a Tubulin Polymerization Inhibitor with Potent Antiproliferative and Tumor Vascular Disrupting Properties 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(17):6014-6027.
A structure–activity relationship (SAR) guided design of novel tubulin polymerization inhibitors has resulted in a series of benzo[b]furans with exceptional potency toward cancer cells and activated endothelial cells. The potency of early lead compounds has been substantially improved through the synergistic effect of introducing a conformational bias and additional hydrogen bond donor to the pharmacophore. Screening of a focused library of potent tubulin polymerization inhibitors for selectivity against cancer cells and activated endothelial cells over quiescent endothelial cells has afforded 7-hydroxy-6-methoxy-2-methyl-3-(3,4,5-trimethoxybenzoyl)benzo-[b]furan (BNC105, 8) as a potent and selective antiproliferative. Because of poor solubility, 8 is administered as its disodium phosphate ester prodrug 9 (BNC105P), which is rapidly cleaved in vivo to return the active 8. 9 exhibits both superior vascular disrupting and tumor growth inhibitory properties compared with the benchmark agent combretastatin A-4 disodium phosphate 5 (CA4P).
PMCID: PMC3172808  PMID: 21774499
8.  Synthesis and Biological Activities of (R)- and (S)-N-(4-methoxy-phenyl)-N,2,6-trimethyl-6,7-dihydro-5H-cyclopenta[d]pyrimidin-4-aminium Chloride as Potent Cytotoxic Antitubulin Agents 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(17):6151-6155.
(R,S)-1 is a potent antimitotic compound. (R)-1•HCl and (S)-1•HCl were synthesized from (R)- and (S)-3-methyladipic acid. Both enantiomers were potent inhibitors of cell proliferation, and caused cellular microtubule loss and mitotic arrest. They inhibited purified tubulin assembly and the binding of [3H]colchicine to tubulin, with (S)-1, being about twice as potent. Cytotoxicity against a panel of 60 tumor cell lines, however, indicated that the (S)-isomer was 10- to 88-fold more potent than the (R)-isomer.
PMCID: PMC3184787  PMID: 21786793
Antimitotic agents; Cytotoxicity; Enantiomers
9.  Antitumor Agents 284. New Desmosdumotin B Analogues with Bicyclic B-ring as Cytotoxic and Antitubulin Agents 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(5):1244-1255.
We previously reported that the biological activity of analogues of desmosdumotin B (1) was dramatically changed depending on the B-ring system. A naphthalene B-ring analogue 3 exerted potent in vitro activity against a diverse panel of human tumor cell lines with GI50 values of 0.8–2.1 μM. In contrast, 1-analogues with a phenyl B-ring showed unique selective activity against P-glycoprotein (P-gp) overexpressing multidrug resistance cell line. We have now prepared and evaluated 1-analogues with bicyclic or tricyclic aromatic B-ring systems as in vitro inhibitors of human cancer cell line proliferation. Among all synthesized derivatives, 21 with a benzo[b]thiophenyl B-ring was highly active, with GI50 values of 0.06–0.16 μM, and this activity was not influenced by overexpression of P-gp. Furthermore, 21 inhibited tubulin assembly in vitro with an IC 50 value of 2.0 μM and colchicine binding by 78% as well as cellular microtubule polymerization and spindle formation.
PMCID: PMC3048907  PMID: 21284385
10.  Synthesis and Discovery of Water Soluble Microtubule Targeting Agents that Bind to the Colchicine Site on Tubulin and Circumvent Pgp Mediated Resistance 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2010;53(22):8116-8128.
Two classes of molecules were designed and synthesized based on a 6-CH3 cyclopenta[d]pyrimidine scaffold and a pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidine scaffold. The pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidines were synthesized by reacting ethyl 2-cyano-4,4-diethoxybutanate and acetamidine, which in turn was chlorinated and reacted with the appropriate anilines to afford 1 and 2. The cyclopenta[d]pyrimidineswere obtained from 3-methyladapic acid, followed by reaction with acetamidine to afford the cyclopenta[d]pyrimidine scaffold. Chlorination and reaction with appropriate anilines afforded (±)-3•HCl – (±)-7.HCl. Compounds 1 (add chemical compound designation) and (±)-3•HCl (add compound chemical designation) had potent antiproliferative activities in the nanomolar range. Compound (±)-3•HCl is significantly more potent than 1. Mechanistic studies showed that 1 and (±)-3•HCl cause loss of cellular microtubles, inhibit the polymerization of purified tubulin, and inhibit colchicine binding. Modeling studies show interactions of these compounds within the colchicine site. The identification of these new inhibitors that can also overcome clinically relevant mechanisms of drug resistence provides new scaffolds for colchicine site agents.
PMCID: PMC2988971  PMID: 20973488
11.  Synthesis and Antitumor Activity of 1,5-Disubstituted 1,2,4-Triazoles as Cis-Restricted Combretastatin Analogues 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2010;53(10):4248-4258.
A series of 1-aryl-5-(3′,4′,5′-trimethoxyphenyl) derivatives and their related 1-(3′,4′,5′-trimethoxyphenyl)-5-aryl-1,2,4-triazoles, designed as cis-restricted combretastatin analogues, were synthesized and evaluated for antiproliferative activity, inhibitory effects on tubulin polymerization, cell cycle effects, and apoptosis induction. Their activity was greater than, or comparable with, that of the reference compound CA-4. Flow cytometry studies showed that HeLa and Jurkat cells treated with the most active compounds 4l and 4o were arrested in the G2/M phase of the cell cycle in a concentration dependent manner. This effect was accompanied by apoptosis of the cells, mitochondrial depolarization, generation of reactive oxygen species, activation of caspase-3, and PARP cleavage. Compound 4l was also shown to have potential antivascular activity, since it induced endothelial cell shape change in vitro and disrupted the sprouting of endothelial cells in the chick aortic ring assay.
PMCID: PMC2887662  PMID: 20420439
12.  New Arylthioindoles and Related Bioisosteres at the Sulfur Bridging Group. 4. Synthesis, Tubulin Polymerization, Cell Growth Inhibition, and Molecular Modeling Studies 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2009;52(23):7512-7527.
New arylthioindoles along with the corresponding ketone and methylene compounds were potent tubulin assembly inhibitors. As growth inhibitors of MCF-7 cells, sulfur derivatives were superior or sometimes equivalent to the ketones, while methylene derivatives were substantially less effective. Esters 24, 27–29, 36, 39,and 41 showed ~50% of inhibition on human HeLa and HCT116/chr3 cells at 0.5 μM, and these compounds inhibited the growth of HEK, M14, and U937 cells with IC50's in the 78–220 nM range. While murine macrophage J744.1 cell growth was significantly less affected (20% at higher concentrations), four other nontransformed cell lines remained sensitive to these esters. The effect of drug treatment on cell morphology was examined by time-lapse microscopy. In a protocol set up to evaluate toxicity on the Saccharomyces cerevisiae BY4741 wild type strain, compounds 24 and 54 strongly reduced cell growth, and 29, 36, and 39 also showed significant inhibition.
PMCID: PMC2797757  PMID: 19601594
13.  2-Arylamino-4-Amino-5-Aroylthiazoles. “One-Pot” Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of a New Class of Inhibitors of Tubulin Polymerization 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2009;52(17):5551-5555.
The essential role of microtubules in mitosis makes them a major target of compounds useful for cancer therapy. In our search for potent antitumor agents, a novel series of 2-anilino-4-amino-5-aroylthiazoles was synthesized and evaluated for antiproliferative activity, inhibition of tubulin polymerization, and cell cycle effects. SAR was elucidated with various substitutions on the phenylamino and aroyl moiety at the 2- and 5-positions, respectively, of the 4-aminothiazole skeleton. Tumor cell exposure to several of these compounds led to the arrest of HeLa cells in the G2/M phase of the cell cycle and induction of apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC2762271  PMID: 19663386
14.  Design and Synthesis of 2-(3-Benzo[b]thienyl)-6,7-methylenedioxyquinolin-4-one Analogs as Potent Antitumor Agents that Inhibit Tubulin Assembly 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2009;52(15):4883-4891.
As part of our continuing investigation of azo-flavonoid derivatives as potential anticancer drug candidates, a series of 2-aryl-6,7-methylenedioxyquinolin-4-one analogs was designed and synthesized. The design combined structural features of 2-(2-fluorophenyl)-6,7-methylenedioxyquinolin-4-one (CHM-1), a previously discovered compound with potent in vivo antitumor activity, and 2-arylquinolin-4-ones identified by CoMFA models. The newly synthesized analogs were evaluated for cytotoxicity against seven human cancer cell lines, and structure-activity relationship (SAR) correlations were established. Analogs 1, 37, and 39 showed potent cytotoxicity against different cancer cell lines. Compound 1 demonstrated selective cytotoxicity against Hep 3B (hepatoma) cells. Compound 37 was cytotoxic against HL-60 (leukemia), HCT-116 (colon cancer), Hep 3B (hepatoma), and SK-MEL-5 (melanoma) cells. Compound 39 exhibited broad cytotoxicity against all seven cancer cell lines, with IC50 values between 0.07–0.19 µM. Results from mechanism of action studies revealed that these new quinolone derivatives function as antitubulin agents.
PMCID: PMC2761767  PMID: 19719238
2-Arylquinolin-4-ones; CHM-1; Cytotoxicity; Tubulin inhibitor
15.  Novel Microtubule-Interacting Phenoxy Pyridine and Phenyl Sulfanyl Pyridine Analogues for Cancer Therapy 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;51(19):5953-5957.
Current microtubule inhibitory agents used in the clinic to treat cancer have severe side effects, and development of resistance is frequent. We have evaluated the antitumor effect of a novel 30-compound library of phenoxy pyridine and phenyl sulfanyl pyridine derivatives. MTT assays revealed that, of all 30 compounds tested, compounds 2 and 3 showed the largest decrease in proliferation (low μM range) against Panc1 and HS766T human pancreatic cancer cells. Flow cytometry experiments with MCF7 breast cancer cells showed a G2/M arrest comparable to that of colcemid. Immunofluorescence staining demonstrated complete disappearance of intracellular microtubules. Tubulin assembly assays, however, showed a dose-dependent decrease in tubulin assembly with compound 3 that seemed limited to about 50% of the control reaction. With compound 2 treatment, there was only a delay in the onset of assembly, with no effect on the extent of the reaction. Taken together, our results show that these novel microtubule inhibitors have promising anticancer activity and can be potentially used to overcome paclitaxel resistance in the clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC2562226  PMID: 18778046
16.  Asymmetric Synthesis of 2,3-Dihydro-2-arylquinazolin-4-ones: Methodology and Application to a Potent Fluorescent Tubulin Inhibitor with Anticancer Activity 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;51(15):4620-4631.
For several decades the 2,3-dihydroquinazolinone (DHQZ) heterocycle has been known to possess a variety of important biological and medicinal properties. Despite the many interesting facets of these molecules, synthetic access to nonracemic DHQZ analogues has remained elusive. Herein, we disclose a synthetic route that allows access to either enantiomer of a variety of DHQZ derivatives. We illustrate the utility of this chemistry with the asymmetric preparation and biological evaluation of a new chiral fluorescent tubulin binding agent with extremely potent antiproliferative properties against human cancer cells. A computational rationale for the increased potency of the (S)-enantiomer over the (R)-enantiomer is given, based on the crystal structure of α,β-tubulin complexed with colchicine. Taking advantage of the inherent fluorescence of these molecules, confocal images of GMC-5-193 (compound 7) in the cytoplasm of human melanoma cells (MDA-MB-435) cells are presented.
PMCID: PMC2584442  PMID: 18610995

Results 1-16 (16)