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Design and SAR of Withangulatin A Analogues that Act as Covalent TrxR Inhibitors through the Michael Addition Reaction Showing Potential in Cancer Treatment

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posted on 2020-09-17, 14:34 authored by Cheng Wang, Shang Li, Jinhua Zhao, Huali Yang, Fucheng Yin, Ming Ding, Jianguang Luo, Xiaobing Wang, Lingyi Kong
The thioredoxin system plays an important role in cancer cells. Inhibiting thioredoxin reductase (TrxR) has emerged as an effective strategy to selectively target cancer cells. Withangulatin A (WA), a natural product extracted from the whole herb of Physalis angulata L. (Solanaceae), exhibits potent anticancer activity and other diverse pharmacological activities. To improve activity and targeting, we designed and prepared 41 semisynthetic analogues of WA. Biological evaluation indicated that the most promising compound 13a displayed the most significant effect on HT-29 cells (human colon cancer cells) (IC50 = 0.08 μM). A structure–activity relationship study indicated that α,β-unsaturated ketones and ester are necessary groups, allowing 13a to undergo Michael addition reactions with mercaptan and selenol. Liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS) analysis confirmed that 13a modified selenocysteine 498 (U) residues in the redox centers of TrxR, resulting in enzyme inhibition. Therefore, compound 13a acts as a novel TrxR inhibitor and may be a promising candidate for cancer intervention.

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