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Recently identified agents that interact with cytoskeletal elements such as tubulin include synthetic spiroketal pyrans (SPIKET) and monotetrahydrofuran compounds (COBRA compounds). SPIKET compounds target the spongistatin binding site of beta-tubulin and COBRA compounds target a unique binding cavity on alpha-tubulin. At nanomolar concentrations, the SPIKET compound SPIKET-P causes tubulin depolymerization and exhibits potent cytotoxic activity against cancer cells. COBRA-1 inhibits GTP-induced tubulin polymerization. Treatment of human breast cancer and brain tumor cells with COBRA-1 caused destruction of microtubule organization and apoptosis. Other studies have identified some promising protein tyrosine kinase inhibitors as anti-cancer agents. These include EGFR inhibitors such as the quinazoline derivative WHI-P97 and the leflunomide metabolite analog LFM-A12. Both LFM-A12 and WHI-P97 inhibit the in vitro invasiveness of EGFR positive human breast cancer cells at micromolar concentrations and induce apoptotic cell death. Dimethoxyquinazoline compounds WHI-P131 and WHI-P154 inhibit tyrosine kinase JAK3 in leukemia cells. Of particular interest is WHI-P131, which inhibits JAK3 but not JAK1, JAK2, SYK, BTK, LYN, or IRK at concentrations as high as 350 microM. Studies of BTK inhibitors showed that the leflunomide metabolite analog LFM-A13 inhibited BTK in leukemia and lymphoma cells. Consistent with the anti-apoptotic function of BTK, treatment of leukemic cells with LFM-A13 enhanced their sensitivity to chemotherapy-induced apoptosis.


F M Uckun, E A Sudbeck, C Mao, S Ghosh, X P Liu, A O Vassilev, C S Navara, R K Narla. Structure-based design of novel anticancer agents. Current cancer drug targets. 2001 May;1(1):59-71

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PMID: 12188892

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