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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Uncharged isocoumarin-based inhibitors of urokinase-type plasminogen activator

Justin J Heynekamp1, Lucy A Hunsaker2, Thomas A Vander Jagt2, Lorraine M Deck1* and David L Vander Jagt2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Chemistry, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA

2 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM, USA

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BMC Chemical Biology 2006, 6:1  doi:10.1186/1472-6769-6-1

Published: 8 February 2006

Abstract

Background

Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) plays a major role in extracellular proteolytic events associated with tumor cell growth, migration and angiogenesis. Consequently, uPA is an attractive target for the development of small molecule active site inhibitors. Most of the recent drug development programs aimed at nonpeptidic inhibitors targeted at uPA have focused on arginino mimetics containing amidine or guanidine functional groups attached to aromatic or heterocyclic scaffolds. There is a general problem of limited bioavailability of these charged inhibitors. In the present study, uPA inhibitors were designed on an isocoumarin scaffold containing uncharged substituents.

Results

4-Chloro-3-alkoxyisocoumarins were synthesized in which the 3-alkoxy group contained a terminal bromine; these were compared with similar inhibitors that contained a charged terminal functional group. Additional variations included functional groups attached to the seven position of the isocoumarin scaffold. N- [3-(3-Bromopropoxy)-4-chloro-1-oxo-1H-isochromen-7-yl]benzamide was identified as an uncharged lead inhibitor of uPA, Ki = 0.034 μM. Molecular modeling of human uPA with these uncharged inhibitors suggests that the bromine occupies the same position as positively charged arginino mimetic groups.

Conclusion

This study demonstrates that potent uncharged inhibitors of uPA can be developed based upon the isocoumarin scaffold. A tethered bromine in the three position and an aromatic group in the seven position are important contributors to binding. Although the aim was to develop compounds that act as mechanism-based inactivators, these inhibitors are competitive reversible inhibitors.