Glycogen synthase kinase-3 plays an essential role in multiple biochemical pathways in the cell, particularly in regards to energy regulation. As such, Glycogen synthase kinase-3 is an attractive target for pharmacological intervention in a variety of disease states, particularly non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. However, due to homology with other crucial kinases, such as the cyclin-dependent protein kinase CDC2, developing compounds that are both potent and selective is challenging. A novel series of derivatives of 5-nitro-N2-(2-(pyridine-2ylamino)ethyl)pyridine-2,6-diamine were synthesized and have been shown to potently inhibit glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3). Potency in the low nanomolar range was obtained along with remarkable selectivity. The compounds activate glycogen synthase in insulin receptor-expressing CHO-IR cells and in primary rat hepatocytes, and have acceptable pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics to allow for oral dosing. The X-ray co-crystal structure of human GSK3-beta in complex with compound 2 is reported and provides insights into the structural determinants of the series responsible for its potency and selectivity.
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