Protein kinase D (PKD) has been implicated in a wide range of cellular processes and pathological conditions including cancer. However, targeting PKD therapeutically and dissecting PKD-mediated cellular responses remains difficult due to lack of a potent and selective inhibitor. Previously, we identified a novel pan-PKD inhibitor, CID755673, with potency in the upper nanomolar range and high selectivity for PKD. In an effort to further enhance its selectivity and potency for potential in vivo application, small molecule analogs of CID755673 were generated by modifying both the core structure and side-chains.
After initial activity screening, five analogs with equal or greater potencies as CID755673 were chosen for further analysis: kb-NB142-70, kb-NB165-09, kb-NB165-31, kb-NB165-92, and kb-NB184-02. Our data showed that modifications to the aromatic core structure in particular significantly increased potency while retaining high specificity for PKD. When tested in prostate cancer cells, all compounds inhibited PMA-induced autophosphorylation of PKD1, with kb-NB142-70 being most active. Importantly, these analogs caused a dramatic arrest in cell proliferation accompanying elevated cytotoxicity when applied to prostate cancer cells. Cell migration and invasion were also inhibited by these analogs with varying potencies that correlated to their cellular activity.
Throughout the battery of experiments, the compounds kb-NB142-70 and kb-NB165-09 emerged as the most potent and specific analogs in vitro and in cells. These compounds are undergoing further testing for their effectiveness as pharmacological tools for dissecting PKD function and as potential anti-cancer agents in the treatment of prostate cancer.