Design, Synthesis, and Biological Evaluation of Covalent Inhibitors of Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) against Human Malignant Glioblastoma

J Med Chem. 2020 Nov 12;63(21):12707-12724. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.0c01059. Epub 2020 Oct 29.


Human malignant glioblastoma (GBM) is a highly invasive and lethal brain tumor. Targeting of integrin downstream signaling mediators in GBM such as focal adhesion kinase (FAK) seems reasonable and recently demonstrated promising results in early clinical studies. Herein, we report the structure-guided development of a series of covalent inhibitors of FAK. These new compounds displayed highly potent inhibitory potency against FAK enzymatic activity with IC50 values in the nanomolar range. Several inhibitors retarded tumor cell growth as assessed by a cell viability assay in multiple human glioblastoma cell lines. They also significantly reduced the rate of U-87 cell migration and delayed the cell cycle progression by stopping cells in the G2/M phase. Furthermore, these inhibitors showed a potent decrease of autophosphorylation of FAK in glioblastoma cells and its downstream effectors Akt and Erk as well as nuclear factor-κB. These data demonstrated that these inhibitors may have the potential to offer a promising new targeted therapy for human glioblastomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Drug Design*
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • G2 Phase Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / chemical synthesis*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • NF-kappa B
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases