Heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) as a molecular target for oncology therapeutics has attracted much attention in the last decade. The Hsp90 multichaperone complex has important roles in the growth and/or survival of cancer cells. Cdc37, as a cochaperone, associates kinase clients to Hsp90 and promotes the development of malignant tumors. Disrupting the Hsp90-Cdc37 interaction provides an alternative strategy to inhibit the function of Hsp90 for cancer therapy. Celastrol, as a natural product, can disrupt the Hsp90-Cdc37 interaction and induce degradation of kinase clients. The study conducted here attempted to elucidate the structure-activity relationship of celastrol derivatives as Hsp90-Cdc37 disruptors and to improve the druglike properties. 23 celastrol derivatives were designed, synthesized, and the biological activities and physicochemical properties were determined. The derivative CEL20 showed improved Hsp90-Cdc37 disruption activity, anti-proliferative activities as well as druglike properties. Additionally, CEL20 induced clients degradation, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in Panc-1 cells. This study can provide reference for the discovery of novel Hsp90-Cdc37 disruptors.
Keywords: Celastrol; Druglike properties; HTRF; Hsp90–Cdc37 interaction; Structure–activity relationship.
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