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Bioorg Med Chem. 2012 Oct 1;20(19):5915-27. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2012.07.047. Epub 2012 Aug 7.

A sulfoximine-based inhibitor of human asparagine synthetase kills L-asparaginase-resistant leukemia cells.

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Institute for Chemical Research, Kyoto University, Uji, Kyoto 611-0011, Japan.


An adenylated sulfoximine transition-state analogue 1, which inhibits human asparagine synthetase (hASNS) with nanomolar potency, has been reported to suppress the proliferation of an l-asparagine amidohydrolase (ASNase)-resistant MOLT-4 leukemia cell line (MOLT-4R) when l-asparagine is depleted in the medium. We now report the synthesis and biological activity of two new sulfoximine analogues of 1 that have been studied as part of systematic efforts to identify compounds with improved cell permeability and/or metabolic stability. One of these new analogues, an amino sulfoximine 5 having no net charge at cellular pH, is a better hASNS inhibitor (K(I)(∗)=8 nM) than 1 and suppresses proliferation of MOLT-4R cells at 10-fold lower concentration (IC(50)=0.1mM). More importantly, and in contrast to the lead compound 1, the presence of sulfoximine 5 at concentrations above 0.25 mM causes the death of MOLT-4R cells even when ASNase is absent in the culture medium. The amino sulfoximine 5 exhibits different dose-response behavior when incubated with an ASNase-sensitive MOLT-4 cell line (MOLT-4S), supporting the hypothesis that sulfoximine 5 exerts its effect by inhibiting hASNS in the cell. Our work provides further evidence for the idea that hASNS represents a chemotherapeutic target for the treatment of leukemia, and perhaps other cancers, including those of the prostate.

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