Replacement of the lactone moiety on podophyllotoxin and steganacin analogues with a 1,5-disubstituted 1,2,3-triazole via ruthenium-catalyzed click chemistry

Bioorg Med Chem. 2007 Nov 1;15(21):6748-57. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2007.08.020. Epub 2007 Aug 22.


Steganacin and podophyllotoxin are two naturally occurring lignans first isolated from plant sources, which share the capability to disrupt tubulin assembly. Although not strictly essential for its activity, the lactone ring on both structures represents Achilles' heel, as it is a potential site of metabolic degradation and epimerization on its C2 carbon brings about a significant loss in potency. In the present manuscript, we have used the ruthenium-catalyzed [3+2] azide-alkyne cycloaddition, a click-chemistry reaction, to replace the lactone ring with a 1,5-disubstituted triazole in few synthetic steps. The compounds were cytotoxic, although to a lesser degree compared to podophyllotoxin, while retaining antitubulin activity. The present structures might therefore represent a good platform for the fast generation of metabolically stable compounds with few stereogenic centers that might be of value from a medicinal chemistry point of view.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives*
  • 4-Butyrolactone / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemical synthesis
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Catalysis
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Lactones / chemistry*
  • Lignans / chemical synthesis
  • Lignans / chemistry*
  • Lignans / pharmacology*
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Podophyllotoxin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Ruthenium / chemistry
  • Triazoles / chemistry
  • Tubulin / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Lactones
  • Lignans
  • Triazoles
  • Tubulin
  • steganacin
  • Ruthenium
  • Podophyllotoxin
  • 4-Butyrolactone