Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling, vol.60, no.3, pp.1766-1778, 2020 (SCI-Expanded)
Eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2K) is an unusual alpha kinase commonly upregulated in various human cancers, including breast, pancreatic, lung, and brain tumors. We have demonstrated that eEF-2K is relevant to poor prognosis and shorter patient survival in breast and lung cancers and validated it as a molecular target using genetic methods in related in vivo tumor models. Although several eEF-2K inhibitors have been published, none of them have shown to be potent and specific enough for translation into clinical trials. Therefore, development of highly effective novel inhibitors targeting eEF-2K is needed for clinical applications. However, currently, the crystal structure of eEF-2K is not known, limiting the efforts for designing novel inhibitor compounds. Therefore, using homology modeling of eEF-2K, we designed and synthesized novel coumarin-3-carboxamides including compounds A1, A2, and B1-B4 and evaluated their activity by performing in silico analysis and in vitro biological assays in breast cancer cells. The Molecular Mechanics/Generalized Born Surface Area (MM/GBSA) area results showed that A1 and A2 have interaction energies with eEF-2K better than those of B1-B4 compounds. Our in vitro results indicated that compounds A1 and A2 were highly effective in inhibiting eEF-2K at 1.0 and 2.5 mu M concentrations compared to compounds B1-B4, supporting the in silico findings. In conclusion, the results of this study suggest that our homology modeling along with in silico analysis may be effectively used to design inhibitors for eEF-2K. Our newly synthesized compounds A1 and A2 may be used as novel eEF-2K inhibitors with potential therapeutic applications.