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Eur J Med Chem. 2013 Jan;59:141-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2012.10.050. Epub 2012 Nov 7.

Novel soluble myeloid cell leukemia sequence 1 (Mcl-1) inhibitor (E,E)-2-(benzylaminocarbonyl)-3-styrylacrylonitrile (4g) developed using a fragment-based approach.

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State Key Laboratory of Fine Chemicals, School of Chemistry, Dalian University of Technology, No. 2, Linggong Road, Dalian 116012, People's Republic of China.


Based on a known nanomolar Bcl-2 homology domain 3 (BH3) mimetic 3-thiomorpholin-8-oxo-8H-acenaphtho[1,2-b] pyrrole-9-carbonitrile (S1, MW: 331), we applied a fragment-based approach to obtain BH3 mimetics with improved affinity and improved solubility in a water-ethanol (9:1) cosolvent. After the deconstruction of 1 (S1), we obtained fragment cyanoacetamide (4), which was determined to be a ligand efficiency (LE) hot part. After a rational optimization through fragment evolution beginning with fragment 4, a smaller Mcl-1 inhibitor (E,E)-2-(benzylaminocarbonyl)-3-styrylacrylonitrile (4g, MW: 288) with a 6-fold increase in affinity compared to 1 was obtained, as predicted by our optimization curve and identified by Mcl-1 protein nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).

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