Targeting the Mitotic Kinesin KIF18A in Chromosomally Unstable Cancers: Hit Optimization Toward an In Vivo Chemical Probe

J Med Chem. 2022 Mar 24;65(6):4972-4990. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.1c02030. Epub 2022 Mar 14.


Chromosomal instability (CIN) is a hallmark of cancer that results from errors in chromosome segregation during mitosis. Targeting of CIN-associated vulnerabilities is an emerging therapeutic strategy in drug development. KIF18A, a mitotic kinesin, has been shown to play a role in maintaining bipolar spindle integrity and promotes viability of CIN cancer cells. To explore the potential of KIF18A, a series of inhibitors was identified. Optimization of an initial hit led to the discovery of analogues that could be used as chemical probes to interrogate the role of KIF18A inhibition. Compounds 23 and 24 caused significant mitotic arrest in vivo, which was sustained for 24 h. This would be followed by cell death either in mitosis or in the subsequent interphase. Furthermore, photoaffinity labeling experiments reveal that this series of inhibitors binds at the interface of KIF18A and tubulin. This study represents the first disclosure of KIF18A inhibitors with in vivo activity.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Death
  • Humans
  • Kinesins*
  • Mitosis
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Spindle Apparatus / metabolism
  • Tubulin / metabolism


  • Tubulin
  • KIF18A protein, human
  • Kinesins