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1.  Hydrocarbon-Stapled Peptides: Principles, Practice, and Progress 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(15):6275-6288.
Protein structure underlies essential biological processes and provides a blueprint for molecular mimicry that drives drug discovery. Although small molecules represent the lion’s share of agents that target proteins for therapeutic benefit, there remains no substitute for the natural properties of proteins and their peptide subunits in the majority of biological contexts. The peptide α-helix represents a common structural motif that mediates communication between signaling proteins. Because peptides can lose their shape when taken out of context, developing chemical interventions to stabilize their bioactive structure remains an active area of research. The all-hydrocarbon staple has emerged as one such solution, conferring α-helical structure, protease resistance, cellular penetrance, and biological activity upon successful incorporation of a series of design and application principles. Here, we describe our more than decade-long experience in developing stapled peptides as biomedical research tools and prototype therapeutics, highlighting lessons learned, pitfalls to avoid, and keys to success.
PMCID: PMC4136684  PMID: 24601557
2.  The Current State of Drug Discovery and a Potential Role for NMR Metabolomics 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(14):5860-5870.
The pharmaceutical industry has significantly contributed to improving human health. Drugs have been attributed to both increasing life expectancy and decreasing health care costs. Unfortunately, there has been a recent decline in the creativity and productivity of the pharmaceutical industry. This is a complex issue with many contributing factors resulting from the numerous mergers, increase in out-sourcing, and the heavy dependency on high-throughput screening (HTS). While a simple solution to such a complex problem is unrealistic and highly unlikely, the inclusion of metabolomics as a routine component of the drug discovery process may provide some solutions to these problems. Specifically, as the binding affinity of a chemical lead is evolved during the iterative structure-based drug design process, metabolomics can provide feedback on the selectivity and the in vivo mechanism of action. Similarly, metabolomics can be used to evaluate and validate HTS leads. In effect, metabolomics can be used to eliminate compounds with potential efficacy and side effect problems while prioritizing well-behaved leads with druglike characteristics.
PMCID: PMC4324437  PMID: 24588729
3.  Heat Shock Protein 70 Inhibitors. 2. 2,5′-Thiodipyrimidines, 5-(Phenylthio)pyrimidines, 2-(Pyridin-3-ylthio)pyrimidines, and 3-(Phenylthio)pyridines as Reversible Binders to an Allosteric Site on Heat Shock Protein 70 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(4):1208-1224.
The discovery and development of heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) inhibitors is currently a hot topic in cancer. In the preceding paper in this issue (10.1021/jm401551n), we have described structure–activity relationship studies in the first Hsp70 inhibitor class rationally designed to bind to a novel allosteric pocket located in the N-terminal domain of the protein. These ligands contained an acrylamide to take advantage of an active cysteine embedded in the allosteric pocket and acted as covalent protein modifiers upon binding. Here, we perform chemical modifications around the irreversible inhibitor scaffold to demonstrate that covalent modification is not a requirement for activity within this class of compounds. The study identifies derivative 27c, which mimics the biological effects of the irreversible inhibitors at comparable concentrations. Collectively, the back-to-back manuscripts describe the first pharmacophores that favorably and selectively interact with a never explored pocket in Hsp70 and provide a novel blueprint for a cancer-oriented development of Hsp70-directed ligands.
PMCID: PMC3983364  PMID: 24548239
4.  Heat Shock Protein 70 Inhibitors. 1. 2,5′-Thiodipyrimidine and 5-(Phenylthio)pyrimidine Acrylamides as Irreversible Binders to an Allosteric Site on Heat Shock Protein 70 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(4):1188-1207.
Heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) is an important emerging cancer target whose inhibition may affect multiple cancer-associated signaling pathways and, moreover, result in significant cancer cell apoptosis. Despite considerable interest from both academia and pharmaceutical companies in the discovery and development of druglike Hsp70 inhibitors, little success has been reported so far. Here we describe structure–activity relationship studies in the first rationally designed Hsp70 inhibitor class that binds to a novel allosteric pocket located in the N-terminal domain of the protein. These 2,5′-thiodipyrimidine and 5-(phenylthio)pyrimidine acrylamides take advantage of an active cysteine embedded in the allosteric pocket to act as covalent protein modifiers upon binding. The study identifies derivatives 17a and 20a, which selectively bind to Hsp70 in cancer cells. Addition of high nanomolar to low micromolar concentrations of these inhibitors to cancer cells leads to a reduction in the steady-state levels of Hsp70-sheltered oncoproteins, an effect associated with inhibition of cancer cell growth and apoptosis. In summary, the described scaffolds represent a viable starting point for the development of druglike Hsp70 inhibitors as novel anticancer therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3983365  PMID: 24548207
5.  64Cu-Labeled Inhibitors of Prostate-Specific Membrane Antigen for PET Imaging of Prostate Cancer 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(6):2657-2669.
Prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) is a well-recognized target for identification and therapy of a variety of cancers. Here we report five 64Cu-labeled inhibitors of PSMA, [64Cu]3–7, which are based on the lysine–glutamate urea scaffold and utilize a variety of macrocyclic chelators, namely NOTA(3), PCTA(4), Oxo-DO3A(5), CB-TE2A(6), and DOTA(7), in an effort to determine which provides the most suitable pharmacokinetics for in vivo PET imaging. [64Cu]3–7 were prepared in high radiochemical yield (60–90%) and purity (>95%). Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging studies of [64Cu]3–7 revealed specific accumulation in PSMA-expressing xenografts (PSMA+ PC3 PIP) relative to isogenic control tumor (PSMA– PC3 flu) and background tissue. The favorable kinetics and high image contrast provided by CB-TE2A chelated [64Cu]6 suggest it as the most promising among the candidates tested. That could be due to the higher stability of [64Cu]CB-TE2A as compared with [64Cu]NOTA, [64Cu]PCTA, [64Cu]Oxo-DO3A, and [64Cu]DOTA chelates in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3983358  PMID: 24533799
6.  wALADin Benzimidazoles Differentially Modulate the Function of Porphobilinogen Synthase Orthologs 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(6):2498-2510.
The heme biosynthesis enzyme porphobilinogen synthase (PBGS) is a potential drug target in several human pathogens. wALADin1 benzimidazoles have emerged as species-selective PBGS inhibitors against Wolbachia endobacteria of filarial worms. In the present study, we have systematically tested wALADins against PBGS orthologs from bacteria, protozoa, metazoa, and plants to elucidate the inhibitory spectrum. However, the effect of wALADin1 on different PBGS orthologs was not limited to inhibition: several orthologs were stimulated by wALADin1; others remained unaffected. We demonstrate that wALADins allosterically modulate the PBGS homooligomeric equilibrium with inhibition mediated by favoring low-activity oligomers, while 5-aminolevulinic acid, Mg2+, or K+ stabilized high-activity oligomers. Pseudomonas aeruginosa PBGS could be inhibited or stimulated by wALADin1 depending on these factors and pH. We have defined the wALADin chemotypes responsible for either inhibition or stimulation, facilitating the design of tailored PBGS modulators for potential application as antimicrobial agents, herbicides, or drugs for porphyric disorders.
PMCID: PMC3983392  PMID: 24568185
7.  Structure-Guided, Single-Point Modifications in the Phosphinic Dipeptide Structure Yield Highly Potent and Selective Inhibitors of Neutral Aminopeptidases 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(19):8140-8151.
Seven crystal structures of alanyl aminopeptidase from Neisseria meningitides (the etiological agent of meningitis, NmAPN) complexed with organophosphorus compounds were resolved to determine the optimal inhibitor–enzyme interactions. The enantiomeric phosphonic acid analogs of Leu and hPhe, which correspond to the P1 amino acid residues of well-processed substrates, were used to assess the impact of the absolute configuration and the stereospecific hydrogen bond network formed between the aminophosphonate polar head and the active site residues on the binding affinity. For the hPhe analog, an imperfect stereochemical complementarity could be overcome by incorporating an appropriate P1 side chain. The constitution of P1′-extended structures was rationally designed and the lead, phosphinic dipeptide hPhePψ[CH2]Phe, was modified in a single position. Introducing a heteroatom/heteroatom-based fragment to either the P1 or P1′ residue required new synthetic pathways. The compounds in the refined structure were low nanomolar and subnanomolar inhibitors of N. meningitides, porcine and human APNs, and the reference leucine aminopeptidase (LAP). The unnatural phosphinic dipeptide analogs exhibited a high affinity for monozinc APNs associated with a reasonable selectivity versus dizinc LAP. Another set of crystal structures containing the NmAPN dipeptide ligand were used to verify and to confirm the predicted binding modes; furthermore, novel contacts, which were promising for inhibitor development, were identified, including a π–π stacking interaction between a pyridine ring and Tyr372.
PMCID: PMC4331105  PMID: 25192493
8.  Novel 2,4-Disubstituted Pyrimidines as Potent, Selective, and Cell-Permeable Inhibitors of Neuronal Nitric Oxide Synthase 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;58(3):1067-1088.
Selective inhibition of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) is an important therapeutic approach to target neurodegenerative disorders. However, the majority of the nNOS inhibitors developed are arginine mimetics and, therefore, suffer from poor bioavailability. We designed a novel strategy to combine a more pharmacokinetically favorable 2-imidazolylpyrimidine head with promising structural components from previous inhibitors. In conjunction with extensive structure–activity studies, several highly potent and selective inhibitors of nNOS were discovered. X-ray crystallographic analysis reveals that these type II inhibitors utilize the same hydrophobic pocket to gain strong inhibitory potency (13), as well as high isoform selectivity. Interestingly, select compounds from this series (9) showed good permeability and low efflux in a Caco-2 assay, suggesting potential oral bioavailability, and exhibited minimal off-target binding to 50 central nervous system receptors. Furthermore, even with heme-coordinating groups in the molecule, modifying other pharmacophoric fragments minimized undesirable inhibition of cytochrome P450s from human liver microsomes.
PMCID: PMC4329833  PMID: 25489882
9.  Nitric Oxide (NO) Releasing Poly ADP-ribose Polymerase 1 (PARP-1) Inhibitors Targeted to Glutathione S-Transferase P1-Overexpressing Cancer Cells 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(6):2292-2302.
We report the antitumor effects of nitric oxide (NO) releasing derivatives of the PARP-1 inhibitor olaparib (1). Compound 5b was prepared by coupling the carboxyl group of 3b and the free amino group of arylated diazeniumdiolated piperazine 4. Analogue 5a has the same structure except that the F is replaced by H. Compound 13 is the same as 5b except that a Me2N–N(O)=NO– group was added para and ortho to the nitro groups of the dinitrophenyl ring. The resulting prodrugs are activated by glutathione in a reaction accelerated by glutathione S-transferase P1 (GSTP1), an enzyme frequently overexpressed in cancers. This metabolism generates NO plus a PARP-1 inhibitor simultaneously, consuming reducing equivalents, leading to DNA damage concomitant with inhibition of DNA repair, and in the case of 13 inducing cross-linking glutathionylation of proteins. Compounds 5b and 13 reduced the growth rates of A549 human lung adenocarcinoma xenografts with no evidence of systemic toxicity.
PMCID: PMC3983374  PMID: 24521039
10.  Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of New Carbohydrate-Substituted Indenoisoquinoline Topoisomerase I Inhibitors and Improved Syntheses of the Experimental Anticancer Agents Indotecan (LMP400) and Indimitecan (LMP776) 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(4):1495-1512.
Carbohydrate moieties were strategically transported from the indolocarbazole topoisomerase I (Top1) inhibitor class to the indenoisoquinoline system in search of structurally novel and potent Top1 inhibitors. The syntheses and biological evaluation of 20 new indenoisoquinolines glycosylated with linear and cyclic sugar moieties are reported. Aromatic ring substitution with 2,3-dimethoxy-8,9-methylenedioxy or 3-nitro groups exerted strong effects on antiproliferative and Top1 inhibitory activities. While the length of the carbohydrate side chain clearly correlated with antiproliferative activity, the relationship between stereochemistry and biological activity was less clearly defined. Twelve of the new indenoisoquinolines exhibit Top1 inhibitory activity equal to or better than that of camptothecin. An advanced synthetic intermediate from this study was also used to efficiently prepare indotecan (LMP400) and indimitecan (LMP776), two anticancer agents currently under investigation in a Phase I clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health.
PMCID: PMC3983348  PMID: 24517248
11.  Identification of Tetrapeptides from a Mixture Based Positional Scanning Library That Can Restore nM Full Agonist Function of the L106P, I69T, I102S, A219V, C271Y, and C271R Human Melanocortin-4 Polymorphic Receptors (hMC4Rs) 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(11):4615-4628.
Human obesity has been linked to genetic factors and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) SNPs have been associated with up to 6% frequency in morbidly obese children and adults. A potential therapy for individuals possessing such genetic modifications is the identification of molecules that can restore proper receptor signaling and function. These compounds could serve as personalized medications improving quality of life issues as well as alleviating diseases symptoms associated with obesity including type 2 diabetes. Several hMC4 SNP receptors have been pharmacologically characterized in vitro to have a decreased, or a lack of response, to endogenous agonists such as α-, β-, and γ2-melanocyte stimulating hormones (MSH) and adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH). Herein we report the use of a mixture based positional scanning combinatorial tetrapeptide library to discover molecules with nM full agonist potency and efficacy to the L106P, I69T, I102S, A219V, C271Y, and C271R hMC4Rs. The most potent compounds at all these hMC4R SNPs include Ac-His-(pI)DPhe-Tic-(pNO2)DPhe-NH2, Ac-His-(pCl)DPhe-Tic-(pNO2)DPhe-NH2, Ac-His-(pCl)DPhe-Arg-(pI)Phe-NH2, and Ac-Arg-(pCl)DPhe-Tic-(pNO2)DPhe-NH2, revealing new ligand pharmacophore models for melanocortin receptor drug design strategies.
PMCID: PMC4324447  PMID: 24517312
12.  Design, Synthesis, and Structure–Activity Relationship of a Novel Series of GluN2C-Selective Potentiators 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(6):2334-2356.
NMDA receptors are tetrameric complexes composed of GluN1 and GluN2A–D subunits that mediate a slow Ca2+-permeable component of excitatory synaptic transmission. NMDA receptors have been implicated in a wide range of neurological diseases and thus represent an important therapeutic target. We herein describe a novel series of pyrrolidinones that selectively potentiate only NMDA receptors that contain the GluN2C subunit. The most active analogues tested were over 100-fold selective for recombinant GluN2C-containing receptors over GluN2A/B/D-containing NMDA receptors as well as AMPA and kainate receptors. This series represents the first class of allosteric potentiators that are selective for diheteromeric GluN2C-containing NMDA receptors.
PMCID: PMC3983368  PMID: 24512267
13.  Optimization of the Lactam Side Chain of 7-Azaindenoisoquinoline Topoisomerase I Inhibitors and Mechanism of Action Studies in Cancer Cells 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(4):1289-1298.
Optimization of the lactam ω-aminoalkyl substituents in a series of 7-azaindenoisoquinolines resulted in new anticancer agents with improved Top1 inhibitory potencies and cancer cell cytotoxicities. The new compounds 14–17 and 19 exhibited mean graph midpoint cytotoxicity (GI50) values of 21–71 nM in the NCI panel of 60 human cancer cell cultures. Ternary 7-azaindenoisoquinoline–DNA–Top1 cleavage complexes that persist for up to 6 h were detected in HCT116 colon cancer cells. Ternary complexes containing 7-azaindenoisoquinolines were significantly more stable than those in which camptothecin was incorporated. DNA content distribution histograms showed S-phase block 3 h after drug removal. Drug-induced DNA damage in HCT116 cells was revealed by induction of the histone γ-H2AX marker. The 7-azaindenoisoquinolines were able to partially overcome resistance in several drug-resistant cell lines, and they were not substrates for the ABCB1 drug efflux transporter. Molecular modeling studies indicate that the 7-azaindenoisoquinolines intercalate at the DNA cleavage site in DNA–Top1 covalent complexes with the lactam side chain projecting into the major groove. Overall, the results indicate that the 7-azaindenoisoquinolines are promising anticancer agents that merit further development.
PMCID: PMC3983387  PMID: 24502276
14.  Optimization of 4-(N-Cycloamino)phenylquinazolines as a Novel Class of Tubulin-Polymerization Inhibitors Targeting the Colchicine Site 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(4):1390-1402.
The 6-methoxy-1,2,3,4-tetrahydroquinoline moiety in prior leads 2-chloro- and 2-methyl-4-(6-methoxy-3,4-dihydroquinolin-1(2H)-yl)quinazoline (1a and 1b) was modified to produce 4-(N-cycloamino)quinazolines (4a–c and 5a–m). The new compounds were evaluated in cytotoxicity and tubulin inhibition assays, resulting in the discovery of new tubulin-polymerization inhibitors. 7-Methoxy-4-(2-methylquinazolin-4-yl)-3,4-dihydroquinoxalin- 2(1H)-one (5f), the most potent compound, exhibited high in vitro cytotoxic activity (GI50 1.9–3.2 nM), significant potency against tubulin assembly (IC50 0.77 μM), and substantial inhibition of colchicine binding (99% at 5 μM). In mechanism studies, 5f caused cell arrest in G2/M phase, disrupted microtubule formation, and competed mostly at the colchicine site on tubulin. Compound 5f and N-methylated analogue 5g were evaluated in nude mouse MCF7 xenograft models to validate their antitumor activity. Compound 5g displayed significant in vivo activity (tumor inhibitory rate 51%) at a dose of 4 mg/kg without obvious toxicity, whereas 5f unexpectedly resulted in toxicity and death at the same dose.
PMCID: PMC3983391  PMID: 24502232
15.  High-Affinity Small-Molecule Inhibitors of the Menin-Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) Interaction Closely Mimic a Natural Protein–Protein Interaction 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(4):1543-1556.
The protein–protein interaction (PPI) between menin and mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) plays a critical role in acute leukemias, and inhibition of this interaction represents a new potential therapeutic strategy for MLL leukemias. We report development of a novel class of small-molecule inhibitors of the menin–MLL interaction, the hydroxy- and aminomethylpiperidine compounds, which originated from HTS of ∼288000 small molecules. We determined menin–inhibitor co-crystal structures and found that these compounds closely mimic all key interactions of MLL with menin. Extensive crystallography studies combined with structure-based design were applied for optimization of these compounds, resulting in MIV-6R, which inhibits the menin–MLL interaction with IC50 = 56 nM. Treatment with MIV-6 demonstrated strong and selective effects in MLL leukemia cells, validating specific mechanism of action. Our studies provide novel and attractive scaffold as a new potential therapeutic approach for MLL leukemias and demonstrate an example of PPI amenable to inhibition by small molecules.
PMCID: PMC3983337  PMID: 24472025
16.  A Simple Litmus Test for Aldehyde Oxidase Metabolism of Heteroarenes 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(4):1616-1620.
The bioavailability of aromatic azaheterocyclic drugs can be affected by the activity of aldehyde oxidase (AO). Susceptibility to AO metabolism is difficult to predict computationally and can be complicated in vivo by differences between species. Here we report the use of bis(((difluoromethyl)sulfinyl)oxy)zinc (DFMS) as a source of CF2H radical for a rapid and inexpensive chemical “litmus test” for the early identification of heteroaromatic drug candidates that have a high probability of metabolism by AO.
PMCID: PMC3983350  PMID: 24472070
17.  Bicyclic 1-Hydroxy-2-oxo-1,2-dihydropyridine-3-carboxamide-Containing HIV-1 Integrase Inhibitors Having High Antiviral Potency against Cells Harboring Raltegravir-Resistant Integrase Mutants 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(4):1573-1582.
Integrase (IN) inhibitors are the newest class of antiretroviral agents developed for the treatment of HIV-1 infections. Merck’s Raltegravir (RAL) (October 2007) and Gilead’s Elvitegravir (EVG) (August 2012), which act as IN strand transfer inhibitors (INSTIs), were the first anti-IN drugs to be approved by the FDA. However, the virus develops resistance to both RAL and EVG, and there is extensive cross-resistance to these two drugs. New “2nd-generation” INSTIs are needed that will have greater efficacy against RAL- and EVG-resistant strains of IN. The FDA has recently approved the first second generation INSTI, GSK’s Dolutegravir (DTG) (August 2013). Our current article describes the design, synthesis, and evaluation of a series of 1,8-dihydroxy-2-oxo-1,2-dihydroquinoline-3-carboxamides, 1,4-dihydroxy-2-oxo-1,2-dihydro-1,8-naphthyridine-3-carboxamides, and 1-hydroxy-2-oxo-1,2-dihydro-1,8-naphthyridine-3-carboxamides. This resulted in the identification of noncytotoxic inhibitors that exhibited single digit nanomolar EC50 values against HIV-1 vectors harboring wild-type IN in cell-based assays. Importantly, some of these new inhibitors retain greater antiviral efficacy compared to that of RAL when tested against a panel of IN mutants that included Y143R, N155H, G140S/Q148H, G118R, and E138K/Q148K.
PMCID: PMC3983366  PMID: 24471816
18.  Imidazole Aldoximes Effective in Assisting Butyrylcholinesterase Catalysis of Organophosphate Detoxification 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(4):1378-1389.
Intoxication by organophosphate (OP) nerve agents and pesticides should be addressed by efficient, quickly deployable countermeasures such as antidotes reactivating acetylcholinesterase or scavenging the parent OP. We present here synthesis and initial in vitro characterization of 14 imidazole aldoximes and their structural refinement into three efficient reactivators of human butyrylcholinesterase (hBChE) inhibited covalently by nerve agent OPs, sarin, cyclosarin, VX, and the OP pesticide metabolite, paraoxon. Rapid reactivation of OP–hBChE conjugates by uncharged and nonprotonated tertiary imidazole aldoximes allows the design of a new OP countermeasure by conversion of hBChE from a stoichiometric to catalytic OP bioscavenger with the prospect of oral bioavailability and central nervous system penetration. The enhanced in vitro reactivation efficacy determined for tertiary imidazole aldoximes compared to that of their quaternary N-methyl imidazolium analogues is attributed to ion pairing of the cationic imidazolium with Asp 70, altering a reactive alignment of the aldoxime with the phosphorus in the OP–hBChE conjugate.
PMCID: PMC4167068  PMID: 24571195
19.  Simplified 2-Aminoquinoline-Based Scaffold for Potent and Selective Neuronal Nitric Oxide Synthase Inhibition 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(4):1513-1530.
Since high levels of nitric oxide (NO) are implicated in neurodegenerative disorders, inhibition of the neuronal isoform of nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) and reduction of NO levels are therapeutically desirable. Nonetheless, many nNOS inhibitors mimic l-arginine and are poorly bioavailable. 2-Aminoquinoline-based scaffolds were designed with the hope that they could (a) mimic aminopyridines as potent, isoform-selective arginine isosteres and (b) possess chemical properties more conducive to oral bioavailability and CNS penetration. A series of these compounds was synthesized and assayed against purified nNOS enzymes, endothelial NOS (eNOS), and inducible NOS (iNOS). Several compounds built on a 7-substituted 2-aminoquinoline core are potent and isoform-selective; X-ray crystallography indicates that aminoquinolines exert inhibitory effects by mimicking substrate interactions with the conserved active site glutamate residue. The most potent and selective compounds, 7 and 15, were tested in a Caco-2 assay and showed good permeability and low efflux, suggesting high potential for oral bioavailability.
PMCID: PMC3954451  PMID: 24472039
20.  Structural Modifications of Neuroprotective Anti-Parkinsonian (−)-N6-(2-(4-(Biphenyl-4-yl)piperazin-1-yl)-ethyl)-N6-propyl-4,5,6,7-tetrahydrobenzo[d]thiazole-2,6-diamine (D-264): An Effort toward the Improvement of in Vivo Efficacy of the Parent Molecule 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(4):1557-1572.
In our overall goal to develop multifunctional dopamine D2/D3 agonist drugs for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD), we previously synthesized potent D3 preferring agonist D-264 (1a), which exhibited neuroprotective properties in two animal models of PD. To enhance the in vivo efficacy of 1a, a structure–activity relationship study was carried out. Competitive binding and [35S]GTPγS functional assays identified compound (−)-9b as one of the lead molecules with preferential D3 agonist activity (EC50(GTPγS); D3 = 0.10 nM; D2/D3 (EC50): 159). Compounds (−)-9b and (−)-8b exhibited high in vivo activity in two PD animal models, reserpinized and 6-hydroxydopamine (OHDA)-induced unilateral lesioned rats. On the other hand, 1a failed to show any in vivo activity in these models unless the compound was dissolved in 5–10% beta-hydroxy propyl cyclodextrin solution. Lead compounds exhibited appreciable radical scavenging activity. In vitro experiments with dopaminergic MN9D cells indicated neuroprotection by both 1a and (−)-9b from toxicity of MPP+.
PMCID: PMC3983390  PMID: 24471976
21.  Novel Pyrrolidine Diketopiperazines Selectively Inhibit Melanoma Cells via Induction of Late-Onset Apoptosis 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(4):1599-1608.
A common liability of cancer drugs is toxicity to noncancerous cells. Thus, molecules are needed that are potent toward cancer cells while sparing healthy cells. The cost of traditional cell-based HTS is dictated by the library size, which is typically in the hundreds of thousands of individual compounds. Mixture-based combinatorial libraries offer a cost-effective alternative to single-compound libraries while eliminating the need for molecular target validation. Presently, lung cancer and melanoma cells were screened in parallel with healthy cells using a mixture-based library. A novel class of compounds was discovered that selectively inhibited melanoma cell growth via apoptosis with submicromolar potency while sparing healthy cells. Additionally, the cost of screening and biological follow-up experiments was significantly lower than in typical HTS. Our findings suggest that mixture-based phenotypic HTS can significantly reduce cost and hit-to-lead time while yielding novel compounds with promising pharmacology.
PMCID: PMC3983399  PMID: 24471466
22.  Synthesis and Anti-Renal Fibrosis Activity of Conformationally Locked Truncated 2-Hexynyl-N6-Substituted-(N)-Methanocarba-nucleosides as A3 Adenosine Receptor Antagonists and Partial Agonists 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(4):1344-1354.
Truncated N6-substituted-(N)-methanocarba-adenosine derivatives with 2-hexynyl substitution were synthesized to examine parallels with corresponding 4′-thioadenosines. Hydrophobic N6 and/or C2 substituents were tolerated in A3AR binding, but only an unsubstituted 6-amino group with a C2-hexynyl group promoted high hA2AAR affinity. A small hydrophobic alkyl (4b and 4c) or N6-cycloalkyl group (4d) showed excellent binding affinity at the hA3AR and was better than an unsubstituted free amino group (4a). A3AR affinities of 3-halobenzylamine derivatives 4f–4i did not differ significantly, with Ki values of 7.8–16.0 nM. N6-Methyl derivative 4b (Ki = 4.9 nM) was a highly selective, low efficacy partial A3AR agonist. All compounds were screened for renoprotective effects in human TGF-β1-stimulated mProx tubular cells, a kidney fibrosis model. Most compounds strongly inhibited TGF-β1-induced collagen I upregulation, and their A3AR binding affinities were proportional to antifibrotic effects; 4b was most potent (IC50 = 0.83 μM), indicating its potential as a good therapeutic candidate for treating renal fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3954500  PMID: 24456490
23.  Design, Synthesis, and Characterization of α-Ketoheterocycles That Additionally Target the Cytosolic Port Cys269 of Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(3):1079-1089.
A series of α-ketooxazoles incorporating electrophiles at the C5 position of the pyridyl ring of 2 (OL-135) and related compounds were prepared and examined as inhibitors of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) that additionally target the cytosolic port Cys269. From this series, a subset of the candidate inhibitors exhibited time-dependent FAAH inhibition and noncompetitive irreversible inactivation of the enzyme, consistent with the targeted Cys269 covalent alkylation or addition, and maintained or enhanced the intrinsic selectivity for FAAH versus other serine hydrolases. A preliminary in vivo assessment demonstrates that these inhibitors raise endogenous brain levels of anandamide and other FAAH substrates upon intraperitoneal (i.p.) administration to mice, with peak levels achieved within 1.5–3 h, and that the elevations of the signaling lipids were maintained >6 h, indicating that the inhibitors effectively reach and remain active in the brain, inhibiting FAAH for a sustained period.
PMCID: PMC3940414  PMID: 24456116
24.  4-(3-Chloro-5-(trifluoromethyl)pyridin-2-yl)-N-(4-methoxypyridin-2-yl)piperazine-1-carbothioamide (ML267), a Potent Inhibitor of Bacterial Phosphopantetheinyl Transferase That Attenuates Secondary Metabolism and Thwarts Bacterial Growth 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(3):1063-1078.
4′-Phosphopantetheinyl transferases (PPTases) catalyze a post-translational modification essential to bacterial cell viability and virulence. We present the discovery and medicinal chemistry optimization of 2-pyridinyl-N-(4-aryl)piperazine-1-carbothioamides, which exhibit submicromolar inhibition of bacterial Sfp-PPTase with no activity toward the human orthologue. Moreover, compounds within this class possess antibacterial activity in the absence of a rapid cytotoxic response in human cells. An advanced analogue of this series, ML267 (55), was found to attenuate production of an Sfp-PPTase-dependent metabolite when applied to Bacillus subtilis at sublethal doses. Additional testing revealed antibacterial activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and chemical genetic studies implicated efflux as a mechanism for resistance in Escherichia coli. Additionally, we highlight the in vitro absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion and in vivo pharmacokinetic profiles of compound 55 to further demonstrate the potential utility of this small-molecule inhibitor.
PMCID: PMC3983359  PMID: 24450337
25.  Potent and Selective Double-Headed Thiophene-2-carboximidamide Inhibitors of Neuronal Nitric Oxide Synthase for the Treatment of Melanoma 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(3):686-700.
Selective inhibitors of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) are regarded as valuable and powerful agents with therapeutic potential for the treatment of chronic neurodegenerative pathologies and human melanoma. Here, we describe a novel hybrid strategy that combines the pharmacokinetically promising thiophene-2-carboximidamide fragment and structural features of our previously reported potent and selective aminopyridine inhibitors. Two inhibitors, 13 and 14, show low nanomolar inhibitory potency (Ki = 5 nM for nNOS) and good isoform selectivities (nNOS over eNOS [440- and 540-fold, respectively] and over iNOS [260- and 340-fold, respectively]). The crystal structures of these nNOS–inhibitor complexes reveal a new hot spot that explains the selectivity of 14 and why converting the secondary to tertiary amine leads to enhanced selectivity. More importantly, these compounds are the first highly potent and selective nNOS inhibitory agents that exhibit excellent in vitro efficacy in melanoma cell lines.
PMCID: PMC3983353  PMID: 24447275

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