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1.  Synthesis and separation of the enantiomers of the Neuropeptide S receptor antagonist (9R/S)-3-Oxo-1,1-diphenyl-tetrahydro-oxazolo[3,4-a]pyrazine-7-carboxylic acid 4-fluoro-benzylamide (SHA 68) 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(8):2738-2744.
This study reports the synthesis, chromatographic separation and pharmacological evaluation of the two enantiors of the neuropeptide S receptor (NPSR) antagonist (9R/S)-3-oxo-1,1-diphenyl-tetrahydro-oxazolo[3,4-a]pyrazine-7-carboxylic acid 4-fluoro-benzylamide (SHA 68). The (9R)-3-oxo-1,1-diphenyl-tetrahydro-oxazolo[3,4-a]pyrazine-7-carboxylic acid 4-fluoro-benzylamide (compound 10) and (9S)-3-oxo-1,1-diphenyl-tetrahydro-oxazolo[3,4-a]pyrazine-7-carboxylic acid 4-fluoro-benzylamide (compound 10a) were synthesized and their purity assessed by chiral chromatography. The absolute configuration of the enantiomer 10 has been assigned from the crystal structure of the corresponding (S)-phenyl ethyl amine derivative 8. Calcium mobilization studies performed on cells expressing the recombinant NPSR demonstrated that compound 10 is the active enantiomer while the contribution of 10a to the NPSR antagonist properties of the racemic mixture is negligible.
PMCID: PMC3095364  PMID: 21466221
2.  Prototypic Opioid Peptidomimetics Based on the Dmt-Aba-Gly Scaffold 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2006;49(13):3990-3993.
Peptidomometic analogues, H-Dmt-Tic-NH2-CH2-Ph or -Bid exhibit δ-opioid receptor activities. Substitution of Tic by the Aba-Gly scaffold coupled to the C-termini -CH2-Ph (1), -NH-Ph (2) and Gly*-Bid (3) shifted receptor affinity and selectivity to μ-opioid receptors (Kiμ = 0.46, 1.48 and 19.9 nM, respectively) with μ agonism. These represent templates for a new class of μ-opioid agonists. Further modification with negative or positive charges could yield altered properties suitable for therapeutic application for pain relief.
PMCID: PMC2983084  PMID: 16789756
3.  Further studies at neuropeptide S position 5: discovery of novel neuropeptide S receptor antagonists 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2009;52(13):4068-4071.
Neuropeptide S (NPS) regulates various biological functions by activating the NPS receptor (NPSR). Previous studies demonstrated that the substitution of Gly5 with D-amino acids generates NPSR antagonists. Eleven [D-Xaa5]NPS derivatives were synthesized and pharmacologically tested measuring [Ca2+]i in HEK293mNPSR cells. The present results confirmed that the [D-Xaa5] substitution promotes antagonist activity with potency inversely related to the side chain size and allowed to identify the novel potent NPSR peptide antagonist [tBu-D-Gly5]NPS.
PMCID: PMC2732566  PMID: 19473027
4.  Further Studies on Lead Compounds Containing the Opioid Pharmacophore Dmt-Tic 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;51(16):5109-5117.
Opioids containing the Dmt-Tic pharmacophore, especially the δ agonists H-Dmt-Tic-Gly-NH-Ph 1 and H-Dmt-Tic-NH-(S)CH(CH2-COOH)-Bid 4 (UFP-512) were evaluated for the influence of the substitution of Gly with aspartic acid, its chirality, and the importance of the – NH-Ph and N1H-Bid hydrogens relative to δ agonism. The results provide the following conclusions: (i) Asp increases δ selectivity by lowering μ affinity; (ii) -NH-Ph and N1H-Bid nitrogen methylation transforms δ agonists into δ antagonists; (iii) substitution of Gly with L-Asp/D-Asp in the δ agonist H-Dmt-Tic-Gly-NH-Ph resulted in δ antagonists, while the same substitution in the δ agonist H-Dmt-Tic-NH-CH2-Bid yielded more selective δ agonists, H-Dmt-Tic-NH-(S)CH(CH2-COOH)-Bid and H-Dmt-Tic-NH-(R)CH(CH2-COOH)-Bid; (iv) L-Asp seems important only for functional bioactivity, not receptor affinity; (v) H-Dmt-Tic-NH-(S)CH(CH2-COOH)-Bid(N1-Me) (10) revealed analgesia similar to 4, which was reversed by naltrindole only in the tail-flick test. Compounds 4 and 10 had opposite behaviours in mice: 4 caused agitation, while 10 gave sedation and convulsions.
PMCID: PMC2812024  PMID: 18680274
5.  Synthesis and biological activity of human neuropeptide S analogues modified in position 5 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2009;52(2):524-529.
Neuropeptide S (NPSa), the endogenous ligand of a previously orphan receptor now named NPSR, regulates various biological functions in the brain, including arousal, locomotion, anxiety, and food intake. Here we report on a focused structure-activity study of Gly5 which has been replaced with L and D amino acids. Fifteen NPS related peptides were synthesized and pharmacologically tested for intracellular calcium mobilization using HEK293 cells stably expressing the mouse NPSR. The results of this study demonstrated that peptide potency is inversely related to the side chain size while peptide efficacy strongly depends on the relative L and D configuration with the L aminoacids favoring agonist while D aminoacids displaying antagonist pharmacological activity. [D-Val5]NPS behaved as NPSR pure antagonist in HEK293mNPSR cells showing the highest potency (pKB 7.56) among this series of peptides. The antagonist action of [D-Val5]NPS was confirmed in vivo in mice where the peptide at a dose of 10 nmoles completely blocked the stimulatory effect of 0.1 nmole NPS on locomotor activity.
PMCID: PMC2653091  PMID: 19113861
6.  Synthesis of a potent and selective 18F-labeled δ-opioid receptor antagonist derived from the Dmt-Tic pharmacophore for PET imaging 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;51(6):1817-1823.
H-Dmt-Tic-ε-Lys(Z)-OH (1) was used in the synthesis of 18F-labeled opioids for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging by coupling N-succinimidyl-4-[18F]fluorobenzoate ([18F]SFB) with Boc-Dmt-Tic-ε-Lys(Z)-OH under slightly basic conditions at 37 °C for 15 min, deprotected with TFA and HPLC purification in 120 min with a decay-corrected radiochemical 25–30% yield of [18F]-1 (n = 5) and specific activity ca. 46 GBq/µmol. Autoradiography uptake of [18F]-1 in striatum and cortex was blocked by 1 and UFP-501 demonstrating specific binding to δ-opioid receptors. MicroPET imaging revealed the absence of [18F]-1 in rat brain, suggesting its suitability for imaging peripheral δ-opioid receptors.
PMCID: PMC2667121  PMID: 18311909
7.  Conversion of the Potent δ-Opioid Agonist H-Dmt-Tic-NH-CH2-Bid into δ-Opioid Antagonists by N1-Benzimidazole Alkylation1 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2005;48(26):8112-8114.
N1-Alkylation of 1H-benzimidizole of the δ agonist H-Dmt-Tic-NH-CH2-Bid with hydrophobic, aromatic, olefinic, acid, ethyl ester or amide (1–6) became δ antagonists (pA2 = 8.52–10.14). δ- and μ-Opioid receptor affinities were high (Kiδ = 0.12–0.36 nM and Kiμ = 0.44–1.42 nM). Only δ antagonism (pA2 = 8.52–10.14) was observed; μ agonism (IC50 = 30–450 nM) was not correlated with changes in alkylating agent or δ antagonism and some compounds yielded mixed δ antagonism/μ agonism.
PMCID: PMC2597450  PMID: 16366592
8.  Effect of Lysine at C-Terminus of the Dmt-Tic Opioid Pharmacophore 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2006;49(18):5610-5617.
Substitution of Gly with side-chain protected or unprotected Lys in lead compounds containing the opioid pharmacophore Dmt-Tic [H-Dmt-Tic-Gly-NH-CH2-Ph, μ agonist / δ antagonist; H-Dmt-Tic-Gly-NH-Ph, μ agonist / δ agonist and H-Dmt-Tic-NH-CH2-Bid, δ agonist (Bid = 1H-benzimidazole-2-yl)] yielded a new series of compounds endowed with distinct pharmacological activities. Compounds (1-10) included high δ- (Kiδ = 0.068-0.64 nM) and μ-opioid affinities (Kiδ = 0.13-5.50 nM) with a bioactivity that ranged from μ-opioid agonism {10, H-Dmt-Tic-NH-CH[(CH2)4-NH2]-Bid (IC50 GPI = 39.7 nM)} to a selective μ-opioid antagonist [3, H-Dmt-Tic-Lys-NH-CH2-Ph (pA2μ = 7.96)] and a selective δ-opioid antagonist [5, H-Dmt-Tic-Lys(Ac)-NH-Ph (pA2δ = 12.0)]. The presence of a Lys linker provides new lead compounds in the formation of opioid peptidomimetics containing the Dmt-Tic pharmacophore with distinct agonist and / or antagonist properties.
PMCID: PMC2533050  PMID: 16942034
9.  New Opioid Designed Multiple Ligand from Dmt-Tic and Morphinan Pharmacophores 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2006;49(18):5640-5643.
Here we report the facile synthesis of a designed multi-pharmacophore ligand derived from the linkage of a delta selective peptide antagonist (Dmt-Tic) and a mu / kappa morphinan agonist butorphan (MCL 101) through a two methylene spacer. The new compound MCL 450 maintains the same characteristics as the two reference compounds. MCL 450 represents a useful starting point for the synthesis of other multiple opioid ligands endowed with analgesic properties with low tolerance and dependence.
PMCID: PMC2435260  PMID: 16942040
10.  6-N,N-Dimethylamino-2,3-Naphthalimide a New Environment-Sensitive Fluorescent Probe in δ-Selective and μ-Selective Opioid Peptides 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2006;49(12):3653-3658.
A new environment-sensitive fluorophore, 6-N,N-dimethylamino-2,3-naphthalimide (6DMN) was introduced in the δ-selective opioid agonist H-Dmt-Tic-Glu-NH2 and in the μ-selective opioid agonist endomorphin-2 (H-Tyr-Pro-Phe-Phe-NH2). Environment sensitive fluorophores are a special class of chromophores that generally exhibit a low quantum yield in aqueous solution, but become highly fluorescent in nonpolar solvents or when bound to hydrophobic sites in proteins or membranes. New fluorescent δ-selective irreversible antagonists [H-Dmt-Tic-Glu-NH-(CH2)5-CO-Dap(6DMN)-NH2(1) and H-Dmt-Tic-Glu-Dap(6DMN)-NH2)] (2) were identified as potential fluorescent probes showing properties suitable for studies of distribution and internalization of δ-opioid receptors by confocal laser scanning microscopy.
PMCID: PMC1994907  PMID: 16759107

Results 1-10 (10)