Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Calothrixins B and their Deoxygenated Analogues

A series of calothrixin B (2) analogues bearing substituents at the ‘E’ ring and their corresponding deoxygenated quinocarbazoles lacking quinone unit were synthesized. The cytotoxicities of calothrixins 1, 2, and 15bp and quinocarbazole analogues were investigated against nine cancer cell lines. The quinocarbazoles 21a and 25a inhibited the catalytic activity of human topoisomerase II. The plasmid DNA cleavage abilities of calothrixins 1, 2, and 15bp identified compound 15h causing DNA cleavage comparable to that of calothrixin A (1). Calothrixin A (1), 3-fluorocalothrixin 15h and 4-fluoroquinocarbazole 21b induced extensive DNA damage followed by apoptotic cell death. Spectral and plasmid unwinding studies demonstrated an intercalative mode of binding for quinocarbazoles. We identified two promising drug candidates, the 3-fluorocalothrixin B 15h with low toxicity in animal model and its deoxygenated derivative 4-fluoroquinocarbazole 21b as having potent cytotoxicity against NCI-H460 cell line with a GI50 of 1 nM.