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Bioorg Med Chem. 2004 Dec 1;12(23):6221-36.

A novel class of achiral seco-analogs of CC-1065 and the duocarmycins: design, synthesis, DNA binding, and anticancer properties.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Furman University, 3300 Poinsett Highway, Greenville, SC 29613, USA.


The synthesis, DNA binding properties, and in vitro and in vivo anticancer activity of fifteen achiral seco-cyclopropylindoline (or achiral seco-CI) analogs (5a-o) of CC-1065 and the duocarmycins are described. The achiral seco-CI analogs contain a 4-hydroxyphenethyl halide moiety that is attached to a wide range of indole, benzimidazole, pyrrole, and pyridyl-containing noncovalent binding components. The 4-hydroxyphenethyl halide moiety represents the simplest mimic of the seco-cyclopropylpyrroloindoline (seco-CPI) pharmacophore found in the natural products, and it lacks a chiral center. The sequence and minor groove specificity of the achiral compounds was ascertained using a Taq DNA polymerase stop assay and a thermal induced DNA cleavage experiment using either a fragment of pBR322 or pUC18 plasmid DNA. For example, seco-CI-InBf (5a) and seco-CI-TMI (5c) demonstrated specificity for AT-rich sequences, particularly by reacting with the underlined adenine-N3 position of 5'-AAAAA(865)-3'. This is also the sequence that CC-1065 and adozelesin prefer to alkylate. The achiral seco-CI compounds were subjected to cytotoxicity studies against several human (K562, LS174T, PC3, and MCF-7) and murine cancer cell lines (L1210 and P815). Following continuous drug exposure, the achiral compounds were found to be cytotoxic, with IC(50) values in the muM range. Interestingly, the carbamate protected compound 5p was significantly less cytotoxic than agent 5c, supporting the hypothesis that loss of HCl and formation of a spiro[2,5]cyclopropylcyclohexadienone intermediate is necessary for biological activity. The achiral seco-CI compounds 5a and 5c were submitted to the National Cancer Institute for further cytotoxicity screening against a panel of 60 different human cancer cell lines. Both compounds showed significant activity, particularly against several solid tumor cell lines. Flow cytometry studies of P815 cells that were incubated with compound 5c at its IC(50) concentration for 24h showed induction of apoptosis in a large percentage of cells. Compounds 5a and 5c were selected by the NCI for an in vivo anticancer hollow-fiber test, and received composite scores of 18 and 22, respectively. These two compounds were subsequently evaluated for in vivo anticancer activity against the growth of a human advanced stage SC UACC-257 melanoma in skid mice. At a dose of 134 mg/kg administered IP, compound 5c gave a T/C value of 40% (for day 51), and the median number of days of doubling tumor growth was 27.7, versus 15.8 for untreated animals. For compound 5a, at 200mg/kg, the T/C was 58% and the median number of days of doubling tumor growth was 20.0 versus 8.7 for untreated animals. At these doses no toxicity or weight loss was observed for either compound. Furthermore, compound 5c was not toxic to murine bone marrow cell growth in culture, at a dose that was toxic for the previously reported seco-CBI (cyclopropylbenzoindoline)-TMI (4).

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