Design, synthesis and biological evaluation of di-substituted noscapine analogs as potent and microtubule-targeted anticancer agents

Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2015;25(10):2133-40. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2015.03.076. Epub 2015 Mar 31.


Noscapine is an opium-derived kinder-gentler microtubule-modulating drug, currently in Phase I/II clinical trials for cancer chemotherapy. Here, we report the synthesis of four more potent di-substituted brominated derivatives of noscapine, 9-Br-7-OH-NOS (2), 9-Br-7-OCONHEt-NOS (3), 9-Br-7-OCONHBn-NOS (4), and 9-Br-7-OAc-NOS (5) and their chemotherapeutic efficacy on PC-3 and MDA-MB-231 cells. The four derivatives were observed to have higher tubulin binding activity than noscapine and significantly affect tubulin polymerization. The equilibrium dissociation constant (KD) for the interaction between tubulin and 2, 3, 4, 5 was found to be, 55±6μM, 44±6μM, 26±3μM, and 21±1μM respectively, which is comparable to parent analog. The effects of these di-substituted noscapine analogs on cell cycle parameters indicate that the cells enter a quiescent phase without undergoing further cell division. The varying biological activity of these analogs and bulk of substituent at position-7 of the benzofuranone ring system of the parent molecule was rationalized utilizing predictive in silico molecular modeling. Furthermore, the immunoblot analysis of protein lysates from cells treated with 4 and 5, revealed the induction of apoptosis and down-regulation of survivin levels. This result was further supported by the enhanced activity of caspase-3/7 enzymes in treated samples compared to the controls. Hence, these compounds showed a great potential for studying microtubule-mediated processes and as chemotherapeutic agents for the management of human cancers.

Keywords: Anticancer activity; Noscapine; Tubulin polymerization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemical synthesis*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Design*
  • Humans
  • Microtubules / drug effects*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Noscapine / chemical synthesis*
  • Noscapine / chemistry
  • Noscapine / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Noscapine