Inhibition of the Cytolytic Protein Perforin Prevents Rejection of Transplanted Bone Marrow Stem Cells in Vivo

J Med Chem. 2020 Mar 12;63(5):2229-2239. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.9b00881. Epub 2019 Sep 26.


Perforin is a key effector protein in the vertebrate immune system and is secreted by cytotoxic T lymphocytes and natural killer cells to help eliminate virus-infected and transformed target cells. The ability to modulate perforin activity in vivo could be extremely useful, especially in the context of bone marrow stem cell transplantation where early rejection of immunologically mismatched grafts is driven by the recipient's natural killer cells, which overwhelmingly use perforin to kill their targets. Bone marrow stem cell transplantation is a potentially curative treatment for both malignant and nonmalignant disorders, but when the body recognizes the graft as foreign, it is rejected by this process, often with fatal consequences. Here we report optimization of a previously identified series of benzenesulfonamide-based perforin inhibitors for their physicochemical and pharmacokinetic properties, resulting in the identification of 16, the first reported small molecule able to prevent rejection of transplanted bone marrow stem cells in vivo by blocking perforin function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation*
  • Cell Line
  • Graft Rejection / immunology
  • Graft Rejection / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Perforin / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Perforin / immunology
  • Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Sulfonamides / chemistry
  • Sulfonamides / pharmacokinetics
  • Sulfonamides / therapeutic use*


  • Sulfonamides
  • Perforin
  • benzenesulfonamide