Inhibitors of the aldo-keto reductase enzyme AKR1C3 are of interest as potential drugs for leukemia and hormone-related cancers. A series of non-carboxylate morpholino(phenylpiperazin-1-yl)methanones were prepared by palladium-catalysed coupling of substituted phenyl or pyridyl bromides with the known morpholino(piperazin-1-yl)methanone, and shown to be potent (IC50?100nM) and very isoform-selective inhibitors of AKR1C3. Lipophilic electron-withdrawing substituents on the phenyl ring were positive for activity, as was an H-bond acceptor on the other terminal ring, and the ketone moiety (as a urea) was essential. These structure-activity relationships are consistent with an X-ray structure of a representative compound bound in the AKR1C3 active site, which showed H-bonding between the carbonyl oxygen of the drug and Tyr55 and His117 in the 'oxyanion hole' of the enzyme, with the piperazine bridging unit providing the correct twist to allow the terminal benzene ring to occupy the lipophilic pocket and align with Phe311.
High expression of the aldo-keto reductase enzyme AKR1C3 in the human prostate and breast has implicated it in the development and progression of leukemias and of prostate and breast cancers. Inhibitors are thus of interest as potential drugs. Most inhibitors of AKR1C3 are carboxylic acids, whose transport into cells is likely dominated by carrier-mediated processes. We describe here a series of (piperidinosulfonamidophenyl)pyrrolidin-2-ones as potent (<100 nM) and isoform-selective non-carboxylate inhibitors of AKR1C3. Structure-activity relationships identified the sulfonamide was critical, and a crystal structure showed the 2-pyrrolidinone does not interact directly with residues in the oxyanion hole. Variations in the position, co-planarity or electronic nature of the pyrrolidinone ring severely diminished activity, as did altering the size or polarity of the piperidino ring. There was a broad correlation between the enzyme potencies of the compounds and their effectiveness at inhibiting AKR1C3 activity in cells.
Structure-based design was applied to the optimization of a series of 2-(quinazolin-2-yl)phenols to generate potent and selective ATP-competitive inhibitors of the DNA damage response signaling enzyme checkpoint kinase 2 (CHK2). Structure-activity relationships for multiple substituent positions were optimized separately and in combination leading to the 2-(quinazolin-2-yl)phenol 46 (IC(50) 3 nM) with good selectivity for CHK2 against CHK1 and a wider panel of kinases and with promising in vitro ADMET properties. Off-target activity at hERG ion channels shown by the core scaffold was successfully reduced by the addition of peripheral polar substitution. In addition to showing mechanistic inhibition of CHK2 in HT29 human colon cancer cells, a concentration dependent radioprotective effect in mouse thymocytes was demonstrated for the potent inhibitor 46 (CCT241533).
Ataxia telangiectasia (A-T) mutated (ATM) is critical for cell cycle checkpoints and DNA repair. Thus, specific small molecule inhibitors targeting ATM could perhaps be developed into efficient radiosensitizers. Recently, a specific inhibitor of the ATM kinase, KU-55933, was shown to radiosensitize human cancer cells. Herein, we report on an improved analogue of KU-55933 (KU-60019) with K(i) and IC(50) values half of those of KU-55933. KU-60019 is 10-fold more effective than KU-55933 at blocking radiation-induced phosphorylation of key ATM targets in human glioma cells. As expected, KU-60019 is a highly effective radiosensitizer of human glioma cells. A-T fibroblasts were not radiosensitized by KU-60019, strongly suggesting that the ATM kinase is specifically targeted. Furthermore, KU-60019 reduced basal S473 AKT phosphorylation, suggesting that the ATM kinase might regulate a protein phosphatase acting on AKT. In line with this finding, the effect of KU-60019 on AKT phosphorylation was countered by low levels of okadaic acid, a phosphatase inhibitor, and A-T cells were impaired in S473 AKT phosphorylation in response to radiation and insulin and unresponsive to KU-60019. We also show that KU-60019 inhibits glioma cell migration and invasion in vitro, suggesting that glioma growth and motility might be controlled by ATM via AKT. Inhibitors of MEK and AKT did not further radiosensitize cells treated with KU-60019, supporting the idea that KU-60019 interferes with prosurvival signaling separate from its radiosensitizing properties. Altogether, KU-60019 inhibits the DNA damage response, reduces AKT phosphorylation and prosurvival signaling, inhibits migration and invasion, and effectively radiosensitizes human glioma cells.
High-content cell-based screens provide a powerful tool to identify new chemicals that interfere with complex biological processes. Here, we describe the identification of a new inhibitor of microtubule dynamics (micropolyin) using a high-content screen. Integrated high-resolution imaging allowed for fast selection of hits and progression to target identification. Treatment of cells with micropolyin efficiently causes a pro-metaphase arrest, with abnormal spindle morphology and with the spindle assembly checkpoint activated. The arrest appears to result from interference of micropolyin with microtubule dynamics. We show in vitro that tubulin is indeed the target of micropolyin and that micropolyin inhibits microtubule polymerization. Our results demonstrate the power of high-content image- and cell-based screening approaches to identify potential new drug candidates. As our approach is unbiased, it should allow for discovery of new targets that may otherwise be overlooked.
A high-throughput screen identified 3-(3,4-dihydroisoquinolin-2(1H)-ylsulfonyl)benzoic acid as a novel, highly potent (low nM), and isoform-selective (1500-fold) inhibitor of aldo-keto reductase AKR1C3: a target of interest in both breast and prostate cancer. Crystal structure studies showed that the carboxylate group occupies the oxyanion hole in the enzyme, while the sulfonamide provides the correct twist to allow the dihydroisoquinoline to bind in an adjacent hydrophobic pocket. SAR studies around this lead showed that the positioning of the carboxylate was critical, although it could be substituted by acid isosteres and amides. Small substituents on the dihydroisoquinoline gave improvements in potency. A set of "reverse sulfonamides" showed a 12-fold preference for the R stereoisomer. The compounds showed good cellular potency, as measured by inhibition of AKR1C3 metabolism of a known dinitrobenzamide substrate, with a broad rank order between enzymic and cellular activity, but amide analogues were more effective than predicted by the cellular assay.
Human cancers often contain genetic alterations that disable G1/S checkpoint control and loss of this checkpoint is thought to critically contribute to cancer generation by permitting inappropriate proliferation and distorting fate-driven cell cycle exit. The identification of cell permeable small molecules that activate the G1/S checkpoint may therefore represent a broadly applicable and clinically effective strategy for the treatment of cancer. Here we describe the identification of several novel small molecules that trigger G1/S checkpoint activation and characterise the mechanism of action for one, CCT020312, in detail. Transcriptional profiling by cDNA microarray combined with reverse genetics revealed phosphorylation of the eukaryotic initiation factor 2-alpha (EIF2A) through the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2-alpha kinase 3 (EIF2AK3/PERK) as the mechanism of action of this compound. While EIF2AK3/PERK activation classically follows endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress signalling that sets off a range of different cellular responses, CCT020312 does not trigger these other cellular responses but instead selectively elicits EIF2AK3/PERK signalling. Phosphorylation of EIF2A by EIF2A kinases is a known means to block protein translation and hence restriction point transit in G1, but further supports apoptosis in specific contexts. Significantly, EIF2AK3/PERK signalling has previously been linked to the resistance of cancer cells to multiple anticancer chemotherapeutic agents, including drugs that target the ubiquitin/proteasome pathway and taxanes. Consistent with such findings CCT020312 sensitizes cancer cells with defective taxane-induced EIF2A phosphorylation to paclitaxel treatment. Our work therefore identifies CCT020312 as a novel small molecule chemical tool for the selective activation of EIF2A-mediated translation control with utility for proof-of-concept applications in EIF2A-centered therapeutic approaches, and as a chemical starting point for pathway selective agent development. We demonstrate that consistent with its mode of action CCT020312 is capable of delivering potent, and EIF2AK3 selective, proliferation control and can act as a sensitizer to chemotherapy-associated stresses as elicited by taxanes.
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