A New Oxadiazole-Based Topsentin Derivative Modulates Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 1 Expression and Exerts Cytotoxic Effects on Pancreatic Cancer Cells

Molecules. 2021 Dec 21;27(1):19. doi: 10.3390/molecules27010019.


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly lethal form of cancer characterized by drug resistance, urging new therapeutic strategies. In recent years, protein kinases have emerged as promising pharmacological targets for the treatment of several solid and hematological tumors. Interestingly, cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (CDK1) is overexpressed in PDAC tissues and has been correlated to the aggressive nature of these tumors because of its key role in cell cycle progression and resistance to the induction of apoptosis. For these reasons, CDK1 is one of the main causes of chemoresistance, representing a promising pharmacological target. In this study, we report the synthesis of new 1,2,4-oxadiazole compounds and evaluate their ability to inhibit the cell growth of PATU-T, Hs766T, and HPAF-II cell lines and a primary PDAC cell culture (PDAC3). Compound 6b was the most active compound, with IC50 values ranging from 5.7 to 10.7 µM. Molecular docking of 6b into the active site of CDK1 showed the ability of the compound to interact effectively with the adenosine triphosphate binding pocket. Therefore, we assessed its ability to induce apoptosis (which increased 1.5- and 2-fold in PATU-T and PDAC3 cells, respectively) and to inhibit CDK1 expression, which was reduced to 45% in Hs766T. Lastly, compound 6b passed the ADME prediction, showing good pharmacokinetic parameters. These data demonstrate that 6b displays cytotoxic activity, induces apoptosis, and targets CDK1, supporting further studies for the development of similar compounds against PDAC.

Keywords: 1,2,4-oxadiazole; CDK1 inhibitor; PDAC; antiproliferative; apoptosis; marine alkaloids; pancreatic cancer; topsentin.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis
  • CDC2 Protein Kinase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • CDC2 Protein Kinase / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / metabolism
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles / chemistry*
  • Imidazoles / pharmacology
  • Indoles / chemistry*
  • Indoles / pharmacology
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Oxadiazoles / chemistry*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / chemistry*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Imidazoles
  • Indoles
  • Oxadiazoles
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • topsentin
  • CDC2 Protein Kinase
  • CDK1 protein, human

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