We have previously discovered the tubulin-binding anti-cancer properties of noscapine and its derivatives (noscapinoids). Here, we present three lines of evidence that noscapinoids bind at or near the well studied colchicine binding site of tubulin: (1) in silico molecular docking studies of Br-noscapine and noscapine yield highest docking score with the well characterised colchicine-binding site from the co-crystal structure; (2) the molecular mechanics-generalized Born/surface area (MM-GB/SA) scoring results ΔΔG(bind-cald) for both noscapine and Br-noscapine (3.915 and 3.025 kcal/mol) are in reasonably good agreement with our experimentally determined binding affinity (ΔΔG(bind-Expt) of 3.570 and 2.988 kcal/mol, derived from K(d) values); and (3) Br-noscapine competes with colchicine binding to tubulin. The simplest interpretation of these collective data is that Br-noscapine binds tubulin at a site overlapping with, or very close to colchicine-binding site of tubulin. Although we cannot rule out a formal possibility that Br-noscapine might bind to a site distinct and distant from the colchicine-binding site that might negatively influence the colchicine binding to tubulin.
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