We discovered 6-substituted thieno[2,3-d]pyrimidine compounds (3-9) with 3-4 bridge carbons and side-chain thiophene or furan rings for dual targeting one-carbon (C1) metabolism in folate receptor- (FR) expressing cancers. Synthesis involved nine steps starting from the bromo-aryl carboxylate. From patterns of growth inhibition toward Chinese hamster ovary cells expressing FRα or FRβ, the proton-coupled folate transporter or reduced folate carrier, specificity for uptake by FRs was confirmed. Anti-proliferative activities were demonstrated toward FRα-expressing KB tumor cells and NCI-IGROV1 ovarian cancer cells. Inhibition of de novo purine biosynthesis at both 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribonucleotide formyltransferase and glycinamide ribonucleotide formyltransferase (GARFTase) was confirmed by metabolite rescue, metabolomics and enzyme assays. X-ray crystallographic structures were obtained with compounds 3-5 and human GARFTase. Our studies identify first-in-class C1 inhibitors with selective uptake by FRs and dual inhibition of enzyme targets in de novo purine biosynthesis, resulting in anti-tumor activity. This series affords an exciting new platform for selective multi-targeted anti-tumor agents.
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