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Bioorg Med Chem. 2013 Apr 1;21(7):2135-44. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2012.12.038. Epub 2013 Feb 9.

Selective aminopeptidase-N (CD13) inhibitors with relevance to cancer chemotherapy.

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Université de Haute-Alsace, Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Mulhouse, Laboratoire de Chimie Organique et Bioorganique EA4566, 3 rue Alfred Werner, 68093 Mulhouse Cedex, France.


Aminopeptidase-N (APN/CD13) is highly expressed on the surface of numerous types of cancer cells and particularly on the endothelial cells of neoangiogenic vessels during tumourigenesis. This metallo-aminopeptidase has been identified as a potential target for cancer chemotherapy. In this work, we evaluated the efficacy of a novel series of benzosuberone analogues, which were previously reported to be highly potent, selective APN inhibitors with Ki values in the micromolar to sub-nanomolar range. Endothelial cell morphogenesis as well as cell motility were inhibited in vitro in a dose-dependent manner at concentrations that correlated with the potency of the compounds, thus confirming the key role of APN in these established models of angiogenesis. We report toxicity studies in mice showing that these compounds are well tolerated. We report the effects of the compounds, used alone or in combination with rapamycin, on the growth of a select panel of tumours that were subcutaneously xenografted onto Swiss nude mice. Our data indicate that the in vivo efficacy of these new APN inhibitors during the initial phase of tumour growth can be ascribed to their anti-angiogenic activities. However, we also provide evidence that these compounds are effective against established solid tumours. For colonic tumours, the anti-tumour effect depends on the level of APN expression in epithelial cells, and APN expression is associated with down-regulation of the transcription factor HIF-1α. These effects seem to be distinct from those of rapamycin. Our finding that the anti-tumour effect of the inhibitors in the colon requires APN expression strongly suggests that APN plays a crucial function in tumour cells that is distinct from its known role in neovascularisation.

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