Structure-activity relationships in a series of substituted indolocarbazoles: topoisomerase I and protein kinase C inhibition and antitumoral and antimicrobial properties

J Med Chem. 1996 Oct 25;39(22):4471-7. doi: 10.1021/jm9603779.


A series of compounds structurally related to staurosporine, rebeccamycin, and corresponding aglycones was synthesized, and their activities toward protein kinase C and topoisomerases I and II were tested together with their in vitro antitumor efficiency against murine B16 melanoma and P388 leukemia cells. Their antimicrobial activities were also examined against a Gram-negative bacterium (Escherichia coli), a yeast (Candida albicans), and three Gram-positive bacteria (Bacillus cereus, Streptomyces chartreusis, and Streptomyces griseus). To avoid side effects expected with protein kinase C inhibitors, we introduced substitution on the maleimide nitrogen and/or a sugar moiety linked to one of the indole nitrogens to obtain specific inhibitors of topoisomerase I with minimal activities on protein kinase C. As expected, these structures were inefficient on topoisomerase II, and some of them exhibited a strong activity against topoisomerase I. Generally, dechlorinated compounds were found to be more active than chlorinated analogues against both purified topoisomerase I and protein kinase C. On the other hand, opposite results were obtained in the cell antiproliferative assays. These results suggest lack of cell membrane permeability in the absence of the chlorine residue or cleavage of carbon-chlorine bonds inside the cell.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry*
  • Bacillus cereus
  • Carbazoles / chemistry*
  • Carbazoles / pharmacology
  • Escherichia coli
  • Indoles / chemistry*
  • Indoles / pharmacology
  • Leukemia P388 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Protein Kinase C / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Streptococcus
  • Topoisomerase I Inhibitors*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Carbazoles
  • Indoles
  • Topoisomerase I Inhibitors
  • Protein Kinase C