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J Med Chem. 2001 Aug 2;44(16):2555-64.

Structural studies on bioactive compounds. 34. Design, synthesis, and biological evaluation of triazenyl-substituted pyrimethamine inhibitors of Pneumocystis carinii dihydrofolate reductase.

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Cancer Research Laboratories, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK.


The triazenyl-pyrimethamine derivative 3a (TAB), a potent and selective inhibitor of Pneumocystis carinii DHFR, was selected as the starting point for a lead optimization study. Molecular modeling studies, corroborated by a recent crystal structure determination of the ternary complex of P. carinii DHFR--NADPH bound to TAB, predicted that modifications to the acetoxy residue of the lead inhibitor could exploit binding opportunities in the vicinity of an active site pocket bounded by residues Ile33, Lys37, and Leu72. Substitutions in the benzyl moiety with electron-donating and electron-withdrawing groups were predicted to probe face-edge interactions with amino acid Phe69 unique to the P. carinii enzyme. New triazenes 10a--v and 12a--f were prepared by coupling the diazonium tetrafluoroborate salt 6b of aminopyrimethamine with substituted benzylamines or phenethylamines. The most potent of the new inhibitors against P. carinii DHFR was the naphthylmethyl-substituted triazene 10t (IC(50): 0.053 microM), but a more substantial increase in potency against the rat liver DHFR led to a reduction in selectivity (ratio rat liver DHFR IC(50)/P. carinii DHFR IC(50): 5.36) compared to the original lead structure 3a (ratio rat liver DHFR IC(50)/P. carinii DHFR IC(50): 114).

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