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J Med Chem. 2011 Mar 24;54(6):1693-703. doi: 10.1021/jm1013488. Epub 2011 Feb 24.

Triazole ligands reveal distinct molecular features that induce histamine H4 receptor affinity and subtly govern H4/H3 subtype selectivity.

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Leiden/Amsterdam Center for Drug Research, Division of Medicinal Chemistry, Faculty of Exact Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1083, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The histamine H(3) (H(3)R) and H(4) (H(4)R) receptors attract considerable interest from the medicinal chemistry community. Given their relatively high homology yet widely differing therapeutic promises, ligand selectivity for the two receptors is crucial. We interrogated H(4)R/H(3)R selectivities using ligands with a [1,2,3]triazole core. Cu(I)-assisted "click chemistry" was used to assemble diverse [1,2,3]triazole compounds (6a-w and 7a-f), many containing a peripheral imidazole group. The imidazole ring posed some problems in the click chemistry putatively due to Cu(II) coordination, but Boc protection of the imidazole and removal of oxygen from the reaction mixture provided effective strategies. Pharmacological studies revealed two monosubstituted imidazoles (6h,p) with <10 nM H(4)R affinities and >10-fold H(4)R/H(3)R selectivity. Both compounds possess a cycloalkylmethyl group and appear to target a lipophilic pocket in H(4)R with high steric precision. The use of the [1,2,3]triazole scaffold is further demonstrated by the notion that simple changes in spacer length or peripheral groups can reverse the selectivity toward H(3)R. Computational evidence is provided to account for two key selectivity switches and to pinpoint a lipophilic pocket as an important handle for H(4)R over H(3)R selectivity.

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