3-(4-Aroyl-1-methyl-1H-2-pyrrolyl)-N-hydroxy-2-propenamides as a New Class of Synthetic Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors. 2. Effect of Pyrrole C2 and/or C4 Substitutions on Biological Activity

Antonello Mai, Silvio Massa, Ilaria Cerbara, Sergio Valente, Rino Ragno, Patrizia Bottoni, Roberto Scatena, Peter Loidl, Gunther Brosch

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Previous SAR studies (Part 1: Mai, A.; et al. J. Med. Chem. 2003, 46, 512-524) performed on some portions (pyrrole-C4, pyrrole-N1, and hydroxamate group) of 3-(4-benzoyl-1-methyl-1H-pyrrol-2-yl)-N-hydroxy-2-propenamide (1a) highlighted its 4-phenylacetyl (1b) and 4-cynnamoyl (1c) analogues as more potent compounds in inhibiting maize HD2 activity in vitro. In the present paper, we investigated the effect on anti-HD2 activity of chemical substitutions performed on the pyrrole-C2 ethene chains of 1a-c, which were replaced with methylene, ethylene, substituted ethene, and 1,3-butadiene chains (compounds 2). Biological results clearly indicated the unsubstituted ethene chain as the best structural motif to get the highest HDAC inhibitory activity, the sole exception to this rule being the introduction of the 1,3-butadienyl moiety into the 1a chemical structure (IC50(2f) = 0.77 microM; IC50(1a) = 3.8 microM). IC50 values of compounds 3, prepared as 1b homologues, revealed that between benzene and carbonyl groups at the pyrrole-C(4) position a hydrocarbon spacer length ranging from two to five methylenes is well accepted by the APHA template, being that 3a (two methylenes) and 3d (five methylenes) are more potent (2.3- and 1.4-fold, respectively) than 1b, while the introduction of a higher number of methylene units (see 3e,f) decreased the inhibitory activities of the derivatives. Particularly, 3a (IC50 = 0.043 microM) showed the same potency as SAHA in inhibiting HD2 in vitro, and it was 3000- and 2.6-fold more potent than sodium valproate and HC-toxin and was 4.3- and 6-fold less potent than trapoxin and TSA, respectively. Finally, conformationally constrained forms of 1b,c (compounds 4), prepared with the aim to obtain some information potentially useful for a future 3D-QSAR study, showed the same (4a,b) or higher (4c,d) HD2 inhibiting activities in comparison with those of the reference drugs. Molecular modeling and docking calculations on the designed compounds performed in parallel with the chemistry work fully supported the synthetic effort and gave insights into the binding mode of the more flexible APHA derivatives (i.e., 3a). Despite the difference of potency between 1b and 3a in the enzyme assay, the two APHA derivatives showed similar antiproliferative and cytodifferentiating activities in vivo on Friends MEL cells, being that 3a is more potent than 1b in the differentiation assay only at the highest tested dose (48 microM).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1098-1109
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • cancer
  • differentiation
  • mitosis


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