Dimers of isatin derived α-methylene-γ-butyrolactone as potent anti-cancer agents

Sandeep Rana, Smit Kour, Smitha Kizhake, Hannah M. King, Jayapal Reddy Mallareddy, Adam J. Case, Tom Huxford, Amarnath Natarajan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The IKK-NFκB complex is a key signaling node that facilitates activation of gene expression in response to extracellular signals. The kinase IKKβ and the transcription factor RELA have been targeted by covalent modifiers that bind to surface exposed cysteine residues. A common feature in well characterized covalent modifiers of RELA and IKKβ is the Michael acceptor containing α-methylene-γ-butyrolactone functionality. Through synthesis and evaluation of a focused set of α-methylene-γ-butyrolactone containing spirocyclic dimers (SpiDs) we identified SpiD3 as an anticancer agent with low nanomolar potency. Using cell-free and cell-based studies we show that SpiD3 is a covalent modifier that generates stable RELA containing high molecular weight complexes. SpiD3 inhibits TNFα-induced IκBα phosphorylation resulting in the blockade of RELA nuclear translocation. SpiD3 induces apoptosis, inhibits colony formation and migration of cancer cells. The NCI-60 cell line screen revealed that SpiD3 potently inhibits growth of leukemia cell lines, making it a suitable pre-therapeutic lead for hematological malignancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number128713
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • Cancer
  • Irreversible inhibitor
  • NFκB pathway
  • RELA inhibitor
  • Spirocyclic compounds
  • α-methylene-γ-butyrolactone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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