Glutathione-S-transferase activates novel alkylating agents

J Med Chem. 1994 May 13;37(10):1501-7. doi: 10.1021/jm00036a016.


Alkylating agents which are activated by glutathion-S-transferases (GSTs) have been designed and synthesized. The model compound gamma-glutamyl-alpha-amino-beta-[(2-ethyl N,N,N',N'-tetraethylphosphorodiamidate) sulfonyl]propionylglycine (1) and the nitrogen mustards gamma-glutamyl-alpha- amino-beta-[[2-ethyl N,N,N',N'-tetrakis (2-chloroethyl)phosphorodiamidate] sulfonyl]propionylglycine (2) and gamma-glutamyl-alpha-amino-beta-[[2-ethyl-N,N,N',N'-tetrakis(2- chloroethyl)phosphorodiamidate]sulfonyl]-propionyl-(R)-(-)-phenylg lycine (3) were prepared via multistep chemical synthesis. The compounds were tested with recombinant human A1-1, M1a-1a and P1-1 GSTs. HPLC studies showed that the compounds were differentially and catalytically cleaved by biologically relevant concentrations of the GSTs. Mass spectral studies of the cleavage mixture of 2 showed that M1a-1a GST liberated the cytotoxic phosphate moiety needed for efficacy as an alkylating agent. Cell culture studies with MCF-7 breast cancer cells showed that 1 was not toxic at 200 microM, while 2 and 3 showed IC50S of 40.6 and 37.5 microM, respectively, for the same cell line. MCF-7 cells transfected to overexpress P1-1 GST showed enhanced sensitivity with 2 and 3, with IC50S of 20.9 and 9.5 microM, respectively. This result correlates well with the rates of cleavage of 2 and 3 by P1-1 GST observed in vitro and demonstrates that higher levels of cellular P1-1 GST will give increased sensitivity to these drugs.

MeSH terms

  • Alkylating Agents / metabolism*
  • Alkylating Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Biotransformation
  • Catalysis
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Alkylating Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Isoenzymes
  • Glutathione Transferase