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Inhibition of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), an enzyme implicated in neurodegenerative disorders, is an attractive strategy for treating or preventing these diseases. We previously developed several classes of 2-aminoquinoline-based nNOS inhibitors, but these compounds had drawbacks including off-target promiscuity, low activity against human nNOS, and only modest selectivity for nNOS over related enzymes. In this study, we synthesized new nNOS inhibitors based on 7-phenyl-2-aminoquinoline and assayed them against rat and human nNOS, human eNOS, and murine and (in some cases) human iNOS. Compounds with a meta-relationship between the aminoquinoline and a positively charged tail moiety were potent and had up to nearly 900-fold selectivity for human nNOS over human eNOS. X-ray crystallography indicates that the amino groups of some compounds occupy a water-filled pocket surrounding an nNOS-specific aspartate residue (absent in eNOS). This interaction was confirmed by mutagenesis studies, making 7-phenyl-2-aminoquinolines the first aminoquinolines to interact with this residue.


Maris A Cinelli, Cory T Reidl, Huiying Li, Georges Chreifi, Thomas L Poulos, Richard B Silverman. First Contact: 7-Phenyl-2-Aminoquinolines, Potent and Selective Neuronal Nitric Oxide Synthase Inhibitors That Target an Isoform-Specific Aspartate. Journal of medicinal chemistry. 2020 May 14;63(9):4528-4554

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PMID: 32302123

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