Epothilones as lead structures for the synthesis-based discovery of new chemotypes for microtubule stabilization

Feyen, Fabian; Cachoux, Frédéric; Gertsch, Jürg; Wartmann, Markus; Altmann, Karl-Heinz (2008). Epothilones as lead structures for the synthesis-based discovery of new chemotypes for microtubule stabilization. Accounts of chemical research, 41(1), pp. 21-31. Easton, Pa.: American Chemical Society 10.1021/ar700157x

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Epothilones are macrocyclic bacterial natural products with potent microtubule-stabilizing and antiproliferative activity. They have served as successful lead structures for the development of several clinical candidates for anticancer therapy. However, the structural diversity of this group of clinical compounds is rather limited, as their structures show little divergence from the original natural product leads. Our own research has explored the question of whether epothilones can serve as a basis for the development of new structural scaffolds, or chemotypes, for microtubule stabilization that might serve as a basis for the discovery of new generations of anticancer drugs. We have elaborated a series of epothilone-derived macrolactones whose overall structural features significantly deviate from those of the natural epothilone scaffold and thus define new structural families of microtubule-stabilizing agents. Key elements of our hypermodification strategy are the change of the natural epoxide geometry from cis to trans, the incorporation of a conformationally constrained side chain, the removal of the C3-hydroxyl group, and the replacement of C12 with nitrogen. So far, this approach has yielded analogs 30 and 40 that are the most advanced, the most rigorously modified, structures, both of which are potent antiproliferative agents with low nanomolar activity against several human cancer cell lines in vitro. The synthesis was achieved through a macrolactone-based strategy or a high-yielding RCM reaction. The 12-aza-epothilone ("azathilone" 40) may be considered a "non-natural" natural product that still retains most of the overall structural characteristics of a true natural product but is structurally unique, because it lies outside of the general scope of Nature's biosynthetic machinery for polyketide synthesis. Like natural epothilones, both 30 and 40 promote tubulin polymerization in vitro and at the cellular level induce cell cycle arrest in mitosis. These facts indicate that cancer cell growth inhibition by these compounds is based on the same mechanistic underpinnings as those for natural epothilones. Interestingly, the 9,10-dehydro analog of 40 is significantly less active than the saturated parent compound, which is contrary to observations for natural epothilones B or D. This may point to differences in the bioactive conformations of N-acyl-12-aza-epothilones like 40 and natural epothilones. In light of their distinct structural features, combined with an epothilone-like (and taxol-like) in vitro biological profile, 30 and 40 can be considered as representative examples of new chemotypes for microtubule stabilization. As such, they may offer the same potential for pharmacological differentiation from the original epothilone leads as various newly discovered microtubule-stabilizing natural products with macrolactone structures, such as laulimalide, peloruside, or dictyostatin.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Further Contribution)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Gertsch, Jürg






American Chemical Society


Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:05

Last Modified:

12 May 2015 16:58

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https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/28332 (FactScience: 120069)

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