We present a new class of derivatives of noscapine, 1,3-diynyl-noscapinoids of an antitussive plant alkaloid, noscapine based on our in silico efforts that binds tubulin and displays anticancer activity against a panel of breast cancer cells. Structure-activity analyses pointed the C-9 position of the isoquinoline ring which was modified by coupling of 1,3-diynyl structural motifs to rationally design and screened a series of novel 1,3-diynyl-noscapinoids (20-22) with robust binding affinity with tubulin. The selected 1,3-diynyl-noscapinoids, 20-22 revealed improved predicted binding energy of -6.568 kcal/mol for 20, -7.367 kcal/mol for 21 and -7.922 kcal/mol for 22, respectively in comparison to the lead molecule (-5.246 kcal/mol). These novel derivatives were chemically synthesized and validated their anticancer activity based on cellular studies using two human breast adenocarcinoma, MCF-7 and MDAMB-231, as well as with a panel of primary breast cancer cells isolated from patients. Interestingly, all these derivatives inhibited cellular proliferation in all the cancer cells that ranged between 6.2 to 38.9 μM, which is 6.7 to 1.5 fold lower than that of noscapine. Unlike previously reported derivatives of noscapine that arrests cells in the S-phase, these novel derivatives effectively inhibit proliferation of cancer cells, arrests cell cycle in the G2/M-phase followed by apoptosis and appearance of apoptotic cells. Thus, we conclude that 1,3-diynyl-noscapinoids have great potential to be a novel therapeutic agent for breast cancers.
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