Discovery of Tricyclic Clerodane Diterpenes as Sarco/Endoplasmic Reticulum Ca(2+)-ATPase Inhibitors and Structure-Activity Relationships

J Nat Prod. 2015 Jun 26;78(6):1262-70. doi: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.5b00062. Epub 2015 May 20.


Tricyclic clerodane diterpenes (TCDs) are natural compounds that often show potent cytotoxicity for cancer cells, but their mode of action remains elusive. A computationally based similarity search (CDRUG), combined with principal component analysis (ChemGPS-NP) and docking calculations (GOLD 5.2), suggested TCDs to be inhibitors of the sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+)-ATPase (SERCA) pump, which is also the target of the sesquiterpene lactone thapsigargin. Biochemical studies were performed with 11 TCDs on purified rabbit skeletal muscle sarcoplasmic reticulum membranes, which are highly enriched with the SERCA1a isoform. Casearborin D (2) exhibited the highest affinity, with a KD value of 2 μM and giving rise to complete inhibition of SERCA1a activity. Structure-activity relationships revealed that functionalization of two acyl side chains (R1 and R4) and the hydrophobicity imparted by the aliphatic chain at C-9, as well as a C-3,C-4 double bond, play crucial roles for inhibitory activity. Docking studies also suggested that hydrophobic interactions in the binding site, especially with Phe256 and Phe834, may be important for a strong inhibitory activity of the TCDs. In conclusion, a novel class of SERCA inhibitory compounds is presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Diterpenes, Clerodane / chemistry
  • Diterpenes, Clerodane / isolation & purification*
  • Diterpenes, Clerodane / pharmacology*
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mitochondrial Diseases
  • Molecular Structure
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
  • Rabbits
  • Sarcoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Sarcosine Dehydrogenase / deficiency
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Thapsigargin / pharmacology


  • Diterpenes, Clerodane
  • casearborin D
  • Thapsigargin
  • Sarcosine Dehydrogenase
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases

Supplementary concepts

  • Sarcosinemia