VEGFR-2 and Src kinases both play important roles in cancers. In certain cancers, Src works synergistically with VEGFR-2 to promote its activation. Development of multi-target drugs against VEGFR-2 and Src is of therapeutic advantage against these cancers. By using molecular docking and SVM virtual screening methods and based on subsequent synthesis and bioassay studies, we identified 9-aminoacridine derivatives with an acridine scaffold as potentially interesting novel dual VEGFR-2 and Src inhibitors. The acridine scaffold has been historically used for deriving topoisomerase inhibitors, but has not been found in existing VEGFR-2 inhibitors and Src inhibitors. A series of 21 acridine derivatives were synthesized and evaluated for their antiproliferative activities against K562, HepG-2, and MCF-7 cells. Some of these compounds showed better activities against K562 cells in vitro than imatinib. The structure-activity relationships (SAR) of these compounds were analyzed. One of the compounds (7r) showed low μM activity against K562 and HepG-2 cancer cell-lines, and inhibited VEGFR-2 and Src at inhibition rates of 44% and 8% at 50μM, respectively, without inhibition of topoisomerase. Moreover, 10μM compound 7r could reduce the levels of activated ERK1/2 in a time dependant manner, a downstream effector of both VEGFR-2 and Src. Our study suggested that acridine scaffold is a potentially interesting scaffold for developing novel multi-target kinase inhibitors such as VEGFR-2 and Src dual inhibitors.
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