Herein we describe the synthesis and properties of indeno[1,2-b]indole derivatives as a novel class of potent inhibitors of the human protein kinase CK2. A set of 19 compounds was obtained using a convenient and straightforward synthesis protocol. The compounds were tested for inhibition of human protein kinase CK2, which was recombinantly expressed in Escherichia coli. New inhibitors with IC(50) in the micro- and sub-micromolar range were identified. Compound 4b (5-isopropyl-7,8-dihydroindeno[1,2-b]indole-9,10(5H,6H)-dione) inhibited human CK2 with an IC(50) of 0.11 μM and did not significantly inhibit 22 other human protein kinases, suggesting selectivity towards CK2. ATP-competitive inhibition by compound 4b was shown and a K(i) of 0.06 μM was determined. Our findings indicate that indeno[1,2-b]indoles are a promising starting point for further development and optimization of human protein kinase CK2 inhibitors.
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