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J Med Chem. 1998 Oct 8;41(21):3948-60.

Geometrically and conformationally restrained cinnamoyl compounds as inhibitors of HIV-1 integrase: synthesis, biological evaluation, and molecular modeling.

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  • 1Istituto Pasteur - Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti, Dipartimento di Studi Farmaceutici, Universit√† di Roma "La Sapienza", Piazzale A. Moro 5, I-00185 Roma, Italy.


Various cinnammoyl-based structures were synthesized and tested in enzyme assays as inhibitors of the HIV-1 integrase (IN). The majority of compounds were designed as geometrically or conformationally constrained analogues of caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) and were characterized by a syn disposition of the carbonyl group with respect to the vinylic double bond. Since the cinnamoyl moiety present in flavones such as quercetin (inactive on HIV-1-infected cells) is frozen in an anti arrangement, it was hoped that fixing our compounds in a syn disposition could favor anti-HIV-1 activity in cell-based assays. Geometrical and conformational properties of the designed compounds were taken into account through analysis of X-ray structures available from the Cambridge Structural Database. The polyhydroxylated analogues were prepared by reacting 3,4-bis(tetrahydropyran-2-yloxy)benzaldehyde with various compounds having active methylene groups such as 2-propanone, cyclopentanone, cyclohexanone, 1,3-diacetylbenzene, 2, 4-dihydroxyacetophenone, 2,3-dihydro-1-indanone, 2,3-dihydro-1, 3-indandione, and others. While active against both 3'-processing and strand-transfer reactions, the new compounds, curcumin included, failed to inhibit the HIV-1 multiplication in acutely infected MT-4 cells. Nevertheless, they specifically inhibited the enzymatic reactions associated with IN, being totally inactive against other viral (HIV-1 reverse transcriptase) and cellular (RNA polymerase II) nucleic acid-processing enzymes. On the other hand, title compounds were endowed with remarkable antiproliferative activity, whose potency correlated neither with the presence of catechols (possible source of reactive quinones) nor with inhibition of topoisomerases. The SARs developed for our compounds led to novel findings concerning the molecular determinants of IN inhibitory activity within the class of cinnamoyl-based structures. We hypothesize that these compounds bind to IN featuring the cinnamoyl residue C=C-C=O in a syn disposition, differently from flavone derivatives characterized by an anti arrangement about the same fragment. Certain inhibitors, lacking one of the two pharmacophoric catechol hydroxyls, retain moderate potency thanks to nonpharmacophoric fragments (i.e., a m-methoxy group in curcumin) which favorably interact with an "accessory" region of IN. This region is supposed to be located adjacent to the binding site accommodating the pharmacophoric dihydroxycinnamoyl moiety. Disruption of coplanarity in the inhibitor structure abolishes activity owing to poor shape complementarity with the target or an exceedingly high strain energy of the coplanar conformation.

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