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Chem Biol. 2005 Sep;12(9):1007-14.

Structure-based discovery of a boronic acid bioisostere of combretastatin A-4.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, 22904, USA.


Targeting the microtubule system represents an attractive strategy for the development of anticancer agents. In this study, we report a class of combretastatin A-4 (CA-4) analogs derivatized with a boronic acid moiety replacing the hydroxyl group on the C-ring of CA-4. Docking studies of the X-ray structures of our aryl-boronic analogs onto an X-ray structure of the alpha,beta-tubulin heterodimer suggested that cis-6 was a potent inhibitor of the colchicine binding. The model indicated that there would be strong hydrogen bonding between the boronic acid moiety and Thr-179 and Val-181 of alpha-tubulin. We demonstrate that the cis-6 boronic acid bioisostere of CA-4: (1) inhibits tubulin assembly, (2) competitively displaces colchicine, and (3) is a low-nanomolar inhibitor of human cancer cell lines. We present this isostere as a class of potent analogs of CA-4.

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