Multitargeted 6-Substituted Thieno[2,3-d]pyrimidines as Folate Receptor-Selective Anticancer Agents that Inhibit Cytosolic and Mitochondrial One-Carbon Metabolism



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Journal Article

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ACS Pharmacology and Translational Science





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antifolate, cancer, multitargeted, one-carbon metabolism, purine biosynthesis, serine hydroxymethyl transferase 2


Multitargeted agents with tumor selectivity result in reduced drug resistance and dose-limiting toxicities. We report 6-substituted thieno[2,3-d]pyrimidine compounds (3-9) with pyridine (3, 4), fluorine-substituted pyridine (5), phenyl (6, 7), and thiophene side chains (8, 9), for comparison with unsubstituted phenyl (1, 2) and thiophene side chain (10, 11) containing thieno[2,3-d]pyrimidine compounds. Compounds 3-9 inhibited proliferation of Chinese hamster ovary cells (CHO) expressing folate receptors (FRs) α or β but not the reduced folate carrier (RFC); modest inhibition of CHO cells expressing the proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT) by 4, 5, 6, and 9 was observed. Replacement of the side-chain 1′,4′-phenyl ring with 2′,5′-pyridyl, or 2′,5′-pyridyl with a fluorine insertion ortho to l-glutamate resulted in increased potency toward FR-expressing CHO cells. Toward KB tumor cells, 4-9 were highly active (IC50’s from 2.11 to 7.19 nM). By metabolite rescue in KB cells and in vitro enzyme assays, de novo purine biosynthesis was identified as a targeted pathway (at 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribonucleotide formyltransferase (AICARFTase) and glycinamide ribonucleotide formyltransferase (GARFTase)). Compound 9 was 17- to 882-fold more potent than previously reported compounds 2, 10, and 11 against GARFTase. By targeted metabolomics and metabolite rescue, 1, 2, and 6 also inhibited mitochondrial serine hydroxymethyl transferase 2 (SHMT2); enzyme assays confirmed inhibition of SHMT2. X-ray crystallographic structures were obtained for 4, 5, 9, and 10 with human GARFTase. This series affords an exciting new structural platform for potent multitargeted antitumor agents with FR transport selectivity.

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