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Chem Biol. 2000 Dec;7(12):979-92.

Combinatorial synthesis of novel and potent inhibitors of NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase.

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Department of Chemistry and The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.



NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) is the first of three large enzyme complexes located in the cell's inner mitochondrial membrane which form the electron transport chain that carries electrons from NADH to molecular oxygen during oxidative phosphorylation. There is significant interest in developing small molecule inhibitors of this enzyme for use as biological probes, insecticides and potential chemopreventive/chemotherapeutic agents. Herein we describe the application of novel natural product-like libraries to the discovery of a family of potent benzopyran-based inhibitors.


Initially a combinatorial library of benzopyrans, modeled after natural products, was synthesized using a solid phase cycloloading strategy. Screening of this diversity oriented library for inhibitory potency against NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase activity in vitro using bovine heart electron transport particles provided several lead compounds which were further refined through a series of focused libraries.


Using this combinatorial library approach, a family of potent 2,2-dimethylbenzopyran-based inhibitors was developed with IC(50) values in the range of 18-55 nM. Cell-based assays revealed that these inhibitors were rather non-cytotoxic in the MCF-7 cell line; however, they were quite cytostatic in a panel of cancer cell lines suggesting their potential as chemotherapeutic/chemopreventive candidates.

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