Design, synthesis and evaluation of marinopyrrole derivatives as selective inhibitors of Mcl-1 binding to pro-apoptotic Bim and dual Mcl-1/Bcl-xL inhibitors

Rongshi Li, Chunwei Cheng, Maria E. Balasis, Yan Liu, Thomas P. Garner, Kenyon G. Daniel, Jerry Li, Yong Qin, Evripidis Gavathiotis, Said M. Sebti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Inhibition of anti-apoptotic Mcl-1 is a promising anticancer strategy to overcome the survival and chemoresistance of a broad spectrum of human cancers. We previously reported on the identification of a natural product marinopyrrole A (1) that induces apoptosis in Mcl-1-dependent cells through Mcl-1 degradation. Here, we report the design and synthesis of novel marinopyrrole-based analogs and their evaluation as selective inhibitors of Mcl-1 as well as dual Mcl-1/Bcl-xL inhibitors. The most selective Mcl-1 antagonists were 34, 36 and 37 with 16-, 13-and 9-fold more selectivity for disrupting Mcl-1/Bim over Bcl-xL/Bim binding, respectively. Among the most potent dual inhibitors is 42 which inhibited Mcl-1/Bim and Bcl-xL/Bim binding 15-fold (IC50 = 600 nM) and 33-fold (500 nM) more potently than (±)-marinopyrrole A (1), respectively. Fluorescence quenching, NMR analysis and molecular docking indicated binding of marinopyrroles to the BH3 binding site of Mcl-1. Several marinopyrroles potently decreased Mcl-1 cellular levels and induced caspase 3 activation in human breast cancer cells. Our studies provide novel "lead" marinopyrroles for further optimization as selective Mcl-1 inhibitors and dual Mcl-1 and Bcl-xL inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-331
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
StatePublished - 2014



  • Apoptosis
  • Marinopyrroles
  • Mcl-1 and Bcl-xL antagonists
  • Proteineprotein interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pharmacology

Cite this