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J Med Chem. 1990 Jan;33(1):258-63.

Synthesis and in vitro evaluation of some modified 4-thiopyrimidine nucleosides for prevention or reversal of AIDS-associated neurological disorders.

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Michigan Cancer Foundation, Detroit.


Oxygen-sulfur exchange at the C-4 carbonyl of several modified pyrimidine nucleosides, including 3'-azido-3'-deoxythymidine (AZT), is described in an effort to enhance the lipophilicity and, thereby, the delivery to the central nervous system of the sulfur analogues without compromising the anti-HIV activities of the parental structures. Preparation of 3'-azido-3'-deoxy-4-thiothymidine (3) proceeded from 4-thiothymidine (1) and utilized the same methodology developed for the initial synthesis of AZT. Thiation of 2',3'-didehydro-3'-deoxythymidine (4a) and 2',3'-didehydro-2',3'-dideoxyuridine (4c) was carried out with Lawesson's reagent on the corresponding 5'-O-benzoate esters, 4b and 4d, to give 5a and 5c, respectively. The latter, on alkaline hydrolysis, gave 2',3'-didehydro-3'-deoxy-4-thiothymidine (5b) and 2',3'-didehydro-2',3'-dideoxyuridine (5d), respectively. The same series of reactions were applied to the 5'-O-benzoate esters of 2',3'-dideoxyuridine (6a) and 3'-deoxythymidine (6b) to give 2',3'-dideoxy-4-thiouridine (7d) and 3'-deoxy-4-thiothymidine (7b), respectively. Characterization of the saturated and unsaturated thionucleosides included mass spectrometric studies. Under electron impact conditions, the thiated analogues gave more intense parent ions than the corresponding oxygen precursors. The lipophilicity of thymidine and the 3'-deoxythymidine derivatives are enhanced significantly, as indicated, by increases in corresponding P values (1-octanol-0.1 M sodium phosphate) upon replacement of the 4-carbonyl oxygens by sulfur. Compounds 5b, 5d, 7b, and 7d were evaluated for their effects on HIV-induced cytopathogenicity of MT-2 and CEM cells. Only 5b and 7b were moderately active in protecting both cell lines against the cytolytic effect of HIV. The inhibitory effects of analogues 5b, 5d, 7b, and 7d on thymidine phosphorylation by rabbit thymus thymidine kinase were evaluated. Only 3 showed moderate affinity (Ki = 54 microM) for the enzyme. The generally weak anti-HIV activities of the remaining thio analogues are consistent with correspondingly low susceptibilities to thymidine kinase phosphorylation as estimated from the respective Ki values of the synthetic nucleosides. However, the phosphorylation of the 5'-monophosphate derivatives to their respective 5'-triphosphates must also be considered in connection with the weak in vitro anti-HIV effects of these thiated compounds.

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