Synthesis and Structure–Activity Relationships of N-(4-Benzamidino)-Oxazolidinones–Potent and Selective Inhibitors of Kallikrein-Related Peptidase 6

Kallikrein-related peptidase 6 (KLK6) is a secreted serine protease that belongs to the family of tissue kallikreins. Aberrant expression of KLK6 has been found in different cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, and KLK6 is currently studied as a potential target in these pathologies. We report a novel series of KLK6 inhibitors discovered in a high-throughput screen within the European Lead Factory program. Structure-guided design based on docking studies enabled rapid progression of a hit cluster to inhibitors with improved potency, selectivity and pharmacokinetic properties. In particular, inhibitors 32 and 34 have single digit nanomolar potency against KLK6, with over 25-fold and 100-fold selectivity, respectively, against the closely related enzyme trypsin. The most potent compound, 32, effectively reduces KLK6-dependent invasion of HCT116 cells. The high potency in combination with good solubility and low clearance of 32 make it a good chemical probe for KLK6 target validation in vitro and potentially in vivo.