A series of N-(2-amino-6-trifluoromethyl-pyridin-3-ylmethyl) 2-(3-fluoro-4-methylsulfonylaminophenyl) propanamides were designed combining previously identified pharmacophoric elements and evaluated as hTRPV1 antagonists. The SAR analysis indicated that specific hydrophobic interactions of the 2-amino substituents in the C-region of the ligand were critical for high hTRPV1binding potency. In particular, compound 49S was an excellent TRPV1 antagonist (Ki(CAP) = 0.2 nM; IC50(pH) = 6.3 nM) and was thus ca. 100- and 20-fold more potent, respectively, than the parent compounds 2 and 3 for capsaicin antagonism. Furthermore, it demonstrated strong analgesic activity in the rat neuropathic model superior to 2 with almost no side effects. Compound 49S antagonized capsaicin induced hypothermia in mice, but showed TRPV1-related hyperthermia. The basis for the high potency of 49S compared to 2 is suggested by docking analysis with our hTRPV1 homology model in which the 4-methylpiperidinyl group in the C-region of 49S made additional hydrophobic interactions with the hydrophobic region.
Human cytochrome P450 aromatase catalyzes with high specificity the synthesis of estrogens from androgens. Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) such as exemestane, 6-methylideneandrosta-1,4-diene-3,17-dione, are preeminent drugs for the treatment of estrogen-dependent breast cancer. The crystal structure of human placental aromatase has shown an androgen-specific active site. By utilization of the structural data, novel C6-substituted androsta-1,4-diene-3,17-dione inhibitors have been designed. Several of the C6-substituted 2-alkynyloxy compounds inhibit purified placental aromatase with IC50 values in the nanomolar range. Antiproliferation studies in a MCF-7 breast cancer cell line demonstrate that some of these compounds have EC50 values better than 1 nM, exceeding that for exemestane. X-ray structures of aromatase complexes of two potent compounds reveal that, per their design, the novel side groups protrude into the opening to the access channel unoccupied in the enzyme–substrate/exemestane complexes. The observed structure–activity relationship is borne out by the X-ray data. Structure-guided design permits utilization of the aromatase-specific interactions for the development of next generation AIs.
Structure-activity relationship study shows that the catechol group in 7,8-dihdyroxyflavone, a selective small TrkB receptor agonist, is critical for the agonistic activity. To improve the poor pharmacokinetic profiles intrinsic to catechol-containing molecules and elevate the agonistic effect of the lead compound, we initiated the lead optimization campaign by synthesizing various bioisosteric derivatives. Here we show that the optimized 2-methyl-8-(4′-(pyrrolidin-1-yl)phenyl)chromeno[7,8-d]imidazol-6(1H)-one derivative possesses the enhanced TrkB stimulatory activity. Chronic oral administration of this compound significantly reduces the immobility in forced swim test and tail suspension test, two classical antidepressant behavioral animal models, which is accompanied by robust TrkB activation in hippocampus of mouse brain. Further, in vitro ADMET studies demonstrate that this compound possesses the improved features compared to the previous lead compound. Hence, this optimized compound may act as a promising lead candidate for in-depth drug development for treating various neurological disorders including depression.
TrkB agonist; BDNF; synthetic derivatives; antidepressant; neurogenesis
Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL anti-apoptotic proteins are attractive cancer therapeutic targets. We have previously reported the design of 4,5-diphenyl-1H-pyrrole-3-carboxylic acids as a class of potent Bcl-2/Bcl-xL inhibitors. In the present study, we report our structure-based optimization for this class of compounds based upon the crystal structure of Bcl-xL complexed with a potent lead compound. Our efforts accumulated into the design of compound 30 (BM-957), which binds to Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL with Ki <1 nM and has low nanomolar IC50 values in cell growth inhibition in cancer cell lines. Significantly, compound 30 achieves rapid, complete and durable tumor regression in the H146 small-cell lung cancer xenograft model at a well-tolerated dose-schedule.
Ligand functional groups can modulate the contributions of one another to the ligand-protein binding thermodynamics, producing either positive or negative cooperativity. Data presented for four thermolysin phosphonamidate inhibitors demonstrate that the differential binding free energy and enthalpy caused by replacement of a H with a Me group, which binds in the well-hydrated S2′ pocket, are more favorable in presence of a ligand carboxylate. The differential entropy is however less favorable. Dissection of these differential thermodynamic parameters, X-ray crystallography, and density-functional theory calculations suggest that these cooperativities are caused by variations in the thermodynamics of the complex hydration shell changes accompanying the H→Me replacement. Specifically, the COO− reduces both the enthalpic penalty and the entropic advantage of displacing water molecules from the S2′ pocket, and causes a subsequent acquisition of a more enthalpically, less entropically, favorable water network. This study contributes to understanding the important role water plays in ligand-protein binding.
Water-mediated Cooperativity; Double mutant cycle; Differential binding energy; Polarization-enhanced hydrogen bonds; Enthalpy-entropy compensation; Density-functional theory calculation; Structure-thermodynamics-relationship
Toxoplasma gondii(T. gondii) is an apicomplexan parasite that can cause eye disease, brain disease, and death, especially in congenitally infected and immune-compromised people. Novel medicines effective against both active and latent forms of the parasite are greatly needed. The current study focused on the discovery of such medicines by exploring a family of potential inhibitors whose anti-apicomplexan activity has not been previously reported. Initial screening efforts revealed that niclosamide, a drug approved for anthelmintic use, possessed promising activity in vitro against T. gondii. This observation inspired the evaluation of the activity of a series of salicylanilides and derivatives. Several inhibitors with activities in the nanomolar range with no appreciable in vitro toxicity to human cells were identified. An initial structure-activity relationship was explored. Four compounds were selected for evaluation in an in vivo model of infection, and two derivatives with potentially enhanced pharmacological parameters demonstrated the best activity profiles.
In the search for opioid ligands with mixed functional activity, a series of 5′-(4-chlorophenyl)-4,5α-epoxypyridomorphinans possessing alkoxy or acyloxy groups at C-14 was synthesized and evaluated. In this series, the affinity and functional activity of the ligands were found to be influenced by the nature of the substituent at C-14 as well as by the substituent at N-17. Whereas the incorporation of a 3-phenylpropoxy group at C-14 on N-methylpyridomorhinan gave a dual MOR agonist/DOR agonist 17h its incorporation on N-cyclopropylmethylpyridomorphinan gave a MOR agonist/DOR antagonist 17d. Interestingly, 17d, in contrast to 17h, did not produce tolerance or dependence effects on prolonged treatment in cells expressing MOR and DOR. Moreover, 17d displayed greatly diminished analgesic tolerance as compared to morphine on repeated administration, thus supporting the hypothesis that ligands with MOR agonist/DOR antagonist functional activity could emerge as novel analgesics devoid of tolerance, dependence and related side effects.
This study addresses the hypothesis that the lack of anesthetic activity for (3α,5α)-3-hydroxypregn-16-ene-11,20-dione (Δ16-alphaxalone) is explained by the steroid Δ16 double bond constraining the steroid 20-carbonyl group to a position that prevents it from favorably interacting with γ-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors. A series of Δ16 and Δ17(20) analogues of Δ16-alphaxalone was prepared to evaluate this hypothesis in binding, electrophysiological and tadpole anesthesia experiments. The results obtained failed to support the hypothesis. Instead, the results indicate that it is the presence of the C-21 methyl group in Δ16-alphaxalone, not the location of the constrained C-20 carbonyl group, which prevents Δ16-alphaxalone from interacting strongly with the GABAA receptor and having anesthetic activity. Consistent with this conclusion, a Δ17(20) analogue of Δ16-alphaxalone without a C-21 methyl group was found to be very similar to the anesthetic steroid (3α,5α)-3-hydroxypregnane-11,20-dione (alphaxalone) with regard to time of onset and rate of recovery from anesthesia when administered to mice by tail vein injection.
Prescription opioids abuse and associated deaths are an emerging concern in the USA. Vaccination against prescription opioids may provide an alternative to pharmacotherapy. An oxycodone hapten containing a tetraglycine linker at the C6 position (6OXY(Gly)4OH) conjugated to keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) has shown early proof-of-efficacy in rodents as a candidate immunogen (6OXY(Gly)4–KLH) for the treatment of oxycodone abuse. In this study, oxycodone-based and hydrocodone-based haptens were conjugated to KLH to generate immunogens that would recognize both oxycodone and hydrocodone. Vaccination with 6OXY(Gly)4–KLH increased drug binding in serum, reduced drug distribution to brain, and blunted analgesia for both oxycodone and hydrocodone. An analogous C6-linked hydrocodone vaccine blocked hydrocodone effects but less so than 6OXY(Gly)4–KLH. C8-Linked hydrocodone immunogens had only limited efficacy. Amide conjugation showed higher haptenation ratios and greater efficacy than thioether conjugation to maleimide activated KLH (mKLH). The 6OXY(Gly)4–KLH vaccine may be used for treatment of prescription opioid abuse.
Structure-based drug design can potentially accelerate the development of new therapeutics. In this study, a co-crystal structure of the acetylcholine binding protein (AChBP) from Capitella teleta (Ct) in complex with a cyclopropane-containing, selective α4β2-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) partial agonist (compound 5) was acquired. The structural determinants required for ligand binding obtained from this AChBP X-ray structure were used to refine our previous model of the human α4β2-nAChR, thus possibly providing a better understanding of the structure of the human receptor. In order to validate the potential application of the structure of the Ct-AChBP in the engineering of new α4β2-nAChR ligands, homology modeling methods, combined with in silico ADME calculations, were used to design analogs of compound 5. The most promising compound 12, exhibited an improved metabolic stability in comparison to the parent compound 5 while retaining favorable pharmacological parameters together with appropriate behavioral endpoints in the rodent studies.
In our ongoing search toward identifying novel and synthetically simpler candidate vaccine adjuvants, we hypothesized that the imidazo[1,2-a]pyrazines, readily accessible via the Groebke-Blackburn-Bienaymé multicomponent reaction, would possess sufficient structural similarity with TLR7/8-agonistic imidazoquinolines. With pyridoxal as the aldehyde component, furo[2,3- c]pyridines, rather than the expected imidazo[1,2-a]pyridines were obtained, which were characterized by NMR spectroscopy and crystallography. Several analogues were found to activate TLR8-dependent NF-κB signaling. In a focused library of furo[2,3-c]pyridines, a distinct SAR was observed with varying substituents at C2. In human PBMCs, none of the furo[2,3-c]pyridines showed any proinflammatory cytokine induction, but upregulated several chemokine ligand genes. In immunization studies in rabbits, the most active compound showed prominent adjuvantic effects. The complete lack of proinflammatory cytokine induction coupled with strong adjuvantic activity of the novel furo[2,3-c]pyridines render this hitherto unknown chemotype an attractive class of compounds which are expected to be devoid of local or systemic reactogenicity.
TLR8; TLR8 agonists; Vaccine adjuvants; Innate immunity; Furopyridines
A1 adenosine receptor (AR) agonists display antiischemic and antiepileptic neuroprotective activity, but peripheral cardiovascular side effects impeded their development. SAR study of N6-cycloalkylmethyl 4′-truncated (N)-methanocarba-adenosines identified 10 (MRS5474, N6-dicyclopropylmethyl, Ki 47.9 nM) as a moderately A1AR-selective full agonist. Two stereochemically defined N6-methynyl group substituents displayed narrow SAR; larger than cyclobutyl greatly reduced AR affinity, and larger or smaller than cyclopropyl reduced A1AR selectivity. Nucleoside docking to A1AR homology model characterized distinct hydrophobic cyclopropyl subpockets, the larger “A” forming contacts with Thr270 (7.35), Tyr271 (7.36), Ile274 (7.39) and carbon chains of glutamates (EL2), and smaller subpocket “B” between TM6 and TM7. 10 suppressed minimal clonic seizures (6 Hz mouse model) without typical rotarod impairment of A1AR agonists. Truncated nucleosides, an appealing preclinical approach, have more drug-like physicochemical properties than other A1AR agonists. Thus, we identified highly restricted regions for substitution around N6 suitable for an A1AR agonist with anticonvulsant activity.
G protein-coupled receptor; purines; molecular modeling; seizures; in vivo
Macrophage scavenger receptors appear to play a major role in the clearance of oxidized phospholipid (OxPL) products. Discrete peptide-phospholipid conjugates with the phosphatidylcholine head group have been shown to exhibit binding affinity for these receptors. We report the preparation of a water soluble, stable peptide-phospholipid conjugate (9) that possesses the necessary physical properties to enable more detailed study of the role(s) of OxPL in metabolic disease.
Natural product-derived bengamides possess potent antiproliferative activity and target human methionine aminopeptidases (MetAPs) for their cellular effects. Several derivatives were designed, synthesized, and evaluated as MetAP inhibitors. Here, we present four new X-ray structures of human MetAP1 in complex with the inhibitors. Together with the previous structures of bengamide derivatives with human MetAP2 and tubercular MtMetAP1c, analysis of the interactions of these inhibitors at the active site provides structural basis for further modification of these bengamide inhibitors for improved potency and selectivity as anticancer and antibacterial therapeutics.
Protective antigen (PA), lethal factor, and edema factor, the protein toxins of Bacillus anthracis, are among its most important virulence factors and play a key role in infection. We performed a virtual ligand screen of a library of 10,000 members to identify compounds predicted to bind to PA and prevent its oligomerization. Four of these compounds slowed PA association in a FRET-based oligomerization assay, and two of those protected cells from intoxication at concentrations of 1–10 μM. Exploration of the protective mechanism by Western blot showed decreased SDS-resistant PA oligomer on cells, and surprisingly, decreased amounts of activated PA. In vitro assays showed that one of the inhibitors blocked furin-mediated cleavage of PA, apparently through its binding to the PA substrate. Thus, we have identified inhibitors that can independently block both PA’s cleavage by furin and its subsequent oligomerization. Lead optimization on these two backbones may yield compounds with high activity and specificity for the anthrax toxins.
Histone3-lysine79 (H3K79) methyltransferase DOT1L has been found to be a drug target for acute leukemia with MLL (mixed lineage leukemia) gene translocations. A total of 55 adenosine-containing compounds were designed and synthesized, among which several potent DOT1L inhibitors were identified with Ki values as low as 0.5 nM. These compounds also show high selectivity (>4,500-fold) over three other histone methyltransferases. Structure activity relationships (SAR) of these compounds for their inhibitory activities against DOT1L are discussed. Potent DOT1L inhibitors exhibit selective activity against the proliferation of MLL-translocated leukemia cell lines MV4;11 and THP1 with EC50 values of 4–11 μM. Isothermal titration calorimetry studies showed two representative inhibitors bind with a high affinity to the DOT1L:nucleosome complex, and only compete with the enzyme cofactor SAM (S-adenosyl-L-methionine), but not the substrate nucleosome.
In a continuing study of bevirimat (2), the anti-HIV-maturation clinical trials agent, 28 new betulinic acid (BA, 1) derivatives were designed and synthesized. Among these compounds, 17, with a C-28 MEM ester moiety, and 22, with a C-28 ethyl hexanoate, increased the anti-HIV replication activity compared with 2 by two-fold, while compounds 40–41 and 48–49, with C-28 piperazine or piperidine amide substitutions, increased the activity by three- to fifteen-fold. The best new compound 41 exhibited an anti-HIV IC50 value of 0.0059 μM, compared with 0.087 μM for 2. All of the active compounds showed only anti-maturation effects, as confirmed by TZM-bl assay, in blocking the HIV replication. The results suggest that proper C-28 substitutions can further enhance the anti-maturation activity of 2, without any anti-entry effects. Thus, 41 may serve as a promising new lead for development of anti-AIDS clinical trial candidates.
The phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/Akt (PI3K/Akt) pathway is constitutively activated in a substantial proportion of prostate tumors and is considered a key mechanism supporting progression toward an androgen-independent status, for which no effective therapy is available. Therefore, PI3K inhibitors, alone or in combination with other cytotoxic drugs, could potentially be used to treat cancer with a constitutive activated PI3K/Akt pathway. To selectively target advanced prostate tumors with a constitutive activated PI3K/Akt pathway, we generated a prostate cancer-specific PI3K inhibitor by coupling the chemically modified form of the quercetin analog LY294002 (HO-CH2-LY294002, compound 8) with the peptide Mu-LEHSSKLQL, in which the internal sequence HSSKLQ is a substrate for the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) protease. The result is a water-soluble and latent PI3K inhibitor prodrug (compound 11) which activation is dependent on PSA cleavage. Once activated, the L-O-CH2-LY294002 (compound 10) can specifically inhibit PI3K in PSA-secreting prostate cancer cells and induced apoptosis with a potency comparable to the original LY294002 compound.
Recently, covalent drugs have attracted great interest in the drug discovery community, with successful examples that have demonstrated their therapeutic effects. Here, we focus on the covalent inhibition of the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which is a promising strategy in the treatment of pain and inflammation. Among the most recent and potent FAAH inhibitors (FAAHi), there are the cyclic piperidine/piperazine aryl ureas. FAAH hydrolyzes efficiently the amide bond of these compounds, forming a covalent enzyme-inhibitor adduct. To rationalize this experimental evidence, we performed an extensive computational analysis centered on the piperidine-based PF750 (1) and the piperazine-based JNJ1661010 (2), two potent lead compounds used to generating covalent inhibitors as clinical candidates. We found that FAAH induces a distortion of the amide bond of the piperidine/piperazine aryl ureas. QM/MM ΔELUMO-HOMO energies indicate that the observed enzyme-induced distortion of the amide bond favors the formation of a covalent FAAH- inhibitor adduct. These findings could help in the rational structure-based design of novel covalent FAAHi.
Plasmodium falciparum causes approximately 1 million deaths annually. However increasing resistance imposes a continuous threat to existing drug therapies. We previously reported a number of potent and selective triazolopyrimidine-based inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum dihydroorotate dehydrogenase that inhibit parasite in vitro growth with similar activity. Lead optimization of this series led to the recent identification of a preclinical candidate, showing good activity against P. falciparum in mice. As part of a backup program around this scaffold, we explored heteroatom rearrangement and substitution in the triazolopyrimidine ring and have identified several other ring configurations that are active as PfDHODH inhibitors. The imidazo[1,2-α]pyrimidines were shown to bind somewhat more potently than the triazolopyrimidines depending on the nature of the amino aniline substitution. DSM151, the best candidate in this series, binds with 4-fold better affinity (PfDHODH IC50 = 0.077 μM) than the equivalent triazolopyrimidine and suppresses parasites in vivo in the P. berghei model.
Pompe disease is an autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disorder (LSD) caused by deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme acid alpha glucosidase (GAA). Many disease-causing mutated GAA retain enzymatic activity, but are not translocated from endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to lysosomes. Enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) is the only treatment for Pompe disease, but remains expensive, inconvenient and does not reverse all disease manifestations. It was postulated that small molecules which aid in protein folding and translocation to lysosomes could provide an alternate to ERT. Previously, several iminosugars have been proposed as small-molecule chaperones for specific LSDs. Here we identified a novel series of non-iminosugar chaperones for GAA. These moderate GAA inhibitors are shown to bind and thermo-stabilize GAA, and increase GAA translocation to lysosomes in both wild-type and Pompe fibroblasts. AMDE and physical properties studies indicate that this series is a promising lead for further pharmacokinetic evaluation and testing in Pompe disease models.
In only three steps and in 21–67% overall yields from the natural trioxane artemisinin, a series of 21 new trioxane C-10 thioacetals was prepared. Upon receiving a single oral dose of only 6 mg/kg of the monomeric trioxane 12c combined with 18 mg/kg of mefloquine hydrochloride, Plasmodium berghei-infected mice survived on average 29.8 days after infection. Two of the four mice in this group had no parasites detectable in their blood on day 30 after infection and they behaved normally and appeared healthy. One of the mice had 11% blood parasitemia on day 30, and one mouse in this group died on day 29. Of high medicinal importance, the efficacy of this ACT chemotherapy is much better than (almost double) the efficacy under the same conditions using as a positive control the popular trioxane drug artemether plus mefloquine hydrochloride (average survival time of only 16.5 days).
Human aldo-keto reductases 1C1-1C4 (AKR1C1-AKR1C4) function in vivo as 3-keto-, 17-keto- and 20- ketosteroid reductases, and regulate the activity of androgens, estrogens and progesterone and the occupancy and transactivation of their corresponding receptors. Aberrant expression and action of AKR1C enzymes can lead to different pathophysiological conditions. AKR1C enzymes thus represent important targets for development of new drugs. We performed a virtual high-throughput screen of a fragment library that was followed by biochemical evaluation on AKR1C1-AKR1C4 enzymes. Twenty-four structurally diverse compounds were discovered with low μM Ki values for AKR1C1, AKR1C3, or both. Two structural series included the salicylates and the N-phenylanthranilic acids and additionally a series of inhibitors with completely novel scaffolds was discovered. Two of the best selective AKR1C3 inhibitors had Ki values of 0.1 μM and 2.7 μM, exceeding expected activity for fragments. The compounds identified represent an excellent starting point for further hit-to-lead development.
Human RFamide-related peptide-1 (hRFRP-1; MPHSFANLPLRF-NH2) binds to neuropeptide FF receptor 2 (NPFF2R) to dramatically diminish cardiovascular performance. hRFRP-1 and its signaling pathway may provide targets to address cardiac dysfunction. Here, structure-activity relationship, transcript, Ca2+ transient, and phospholabeling data indicate the presence of a hRFRP-1 pathway in cardiomyocytes. Alanyl-substituted and N-terminal truncated analogs identified R11 was essential for activity, hRFRP-1(8-12) mimicked hRFRP-1, and [A11] hRFRP-1(8-12) antagonized the effect of hRFRP-1 in cellular and integrated cardiac performance. RFRP and NPFF2R transcripts were amplified from cardiomyocytes and heart. Maintenance of the Ca2+ transient when hRFRP-1 impaired myocyte shortening indicated the myofilament was its primary downstream target. Enhanced myofilament protein phosphorylation detected after hRFRP-1 treatment but absent in [A11] hRFRP-1(8-12) treated cells was consistent with this result. Protein kinase C (PKC) but not PKA inhibitor diminished the influence of hRFRP-1 on the Ca2+ transient. Molecules targeting this pathway may help address cardiovascular disease.