Design, synthesis, and x-ray crystal structure of a potent dual inhibitor of thymidylate synthase and dihydrofolate reductase as an antitumor agent

A. Gangjee, J. Yu, J. J. McGuire, V. Cody, N. Galitsky, R. L. Kisliuk, S. F. Queener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

73 Scopus citations

Abstract

A novel N-{2-amino-4-methyl[(pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidin-5-yl)ethyl]benzoyl}-L-glutamic acid (3a) was designed and synthesized as a potent dual inhibitor of thymidylate synthase (TS) and dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) and as an antitumor agent. Compound 3b, the N7-benzylated analogue of 3a, was also synthesized as an antitumor agent. The synthesis of 3a was accomplished via a 12-step sequence which involved the synthesis of 2-amino-4-methylpyrrolo-[2,3-d]pyrimidine (10) in 5 steps from 2-acetylbutyrolactone. Protection of the 2-amino group of 10 and regioselective iodination at the 5-position followed by palladium-catalyzed coupling afforded intermediate 14 which was converted to 3a by reduction and saponification. Similar synthetic methodology was used for 3b. X-ray crystal structure of the ternary complex of 3a, DHFR, and NADPH showed that the pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidine ring binds in a '2,4-diamino mode' in which the pyrrole nitrogen mimics the 4-amino moiety of 2,4-diaminopyrimidines. This is the first example of a classical pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidine antifolate shown to have this alternate mode of binding to DHFR. Compounds 3a and 3b were more inhibitory than LY231514 against TS from Lactobacillus casei and Escherichia coli. Analogue 3a was also more inhibitory against DHFR from human, Toxoplasma gondii, and Pneumocystis carinii. Evaluation of 3a against methotrexate (MTX)-resistant cell lines with defined mechanisms indicated that cross-resistance of 3a was much lower than that of MTX. Metabolite protection studies and folylpoly-γ-glutamate synthetase studies suggest that the antitumor activity of 3a against the growth of tumor cells in culture is a result of dual inhibition of TS and DHFR. Compound 3a inhibited the growth of CCRF-CEM and FaDu cells in culture at ED(50) values of 12.5 and 7.0 nM, respectively, and was more active against FaDu cells than MTX. In contrast, compound 3b was inactive against both cell lines. Compound 3a was evaluated in the National Cancer Institute in vitro preclinical antitumor screening program and afforded IG50 values in the nanomolar range against a number of tumor cell lines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3837-3851
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Volume43
Issue number21
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 19 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery

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