Polyamines are small essential polycations involved in many biological processes. Enzymes of polyamine metabolism have been extensively studied and are attractive drug targets. Nevertheless, the reversible acetylation of polyamines remains poorly understood. Although eukaryotic N(8)-acetylspermidine deacetylase activity has already been detected and studied, the specific enzyme responsible for this activity has not yet been identified. However, a zinc deacetylase from Mycoplana ramosa, acetylpolyamine amidohydrolase (APAH), has been reported to use various acetylpolyamines as substrates. The recently solved crystal structure of this polyamine deacetylase revealed the formation of an 'L'-shaped active site tunnel at the dimer interface, with ideal dimensions and electrostatic properties for accommodating narrow, flexible, cationic polyamine substrates. Here, we report the design, synthesis, and evaluation of N(8)-acetylspermidine analogues bearing different zinc binding groups as potential inhibitors of APAH. Most of the synthesized compounds exhibit modest potency, with IC₅₀ values in the mid-micromolar range, but compounds bearing hydroxamate or trifluoromethylketone zinc binding groups exhibit enhanced inhibitory potency in the mid-nanomolar range. These inhibitors will enable future explorations of acetylpolyamine function in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
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