Novel Inhibitors of Eukaryotic Elongation Factor 2 Kinase: In Silico, Synthesis, and in Vitro Studies

02 December 2020, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Eukaryotic elongation factor 2 kinase (eEF2K) is an unusual alpha kinase whose expression is highly upregulated in various cancers and contributes to tumor growth, metastasis, and progression. More importantly, expression of eEF2K is associated with poor clinical outcome and shorter patient survival triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). Therefore, eEF2K is an emerging molecular target for development of novel targeted therapeutics and precision medicine in solid cancers. However, currently potent, and specific inhibitors of eEF2K are not available for clinical translation. In the current study, we investigated the effects of various newly designed and synthesized a series of compounds with coumarin scaffold substitutions in inhibiting eEF2K activity using in silico approaches and in vitro studies in TNBC cells. We utilized an amide substitution at 3-position on the coumarin ring with their pharmacologically active groups containing pyrrolidine, piperidine, morpholine and piperazine groups with –(CH2)2– bridged for aliphatic amides. To evaluate substituent effects on coumarin scaffold, boronic acid pinacol ester and boronic acids on phenyl rings were investigated using in silico and in vitro analyses. Due to their ability to form covalent binding to the target enzyme, we investigated the effects of boron containing groups on functionalized coumarin ring (3 compounds) and designed novel aliphatic and aromatic derivatives of coumarin scaffolds (10 compounds) and phenyl ring with boron groups (4 compounds). In silico analysis and molecular docking studies were performed using the Glide/SP module of Maestro molecular modeling package. According to obtained results, structure activity relationship (SAR) was carried out. Among the newly designed, synthesized, and tested compounds, our in vitro findings revealed that several compounds displayed a highly effective eEF2K inhibition at submicromolar concentration in in vitro breast cancer cells. In conclusion, we identified novel eEF2K inhibitors as promising anticancer drug substance candidates which should be further evaluated by in vivo studies, preclinical and clinical studies.


molecular docking
molecular dynamics
drug design
breast cancer
triple negative breast cancer
targeted therapy
coumarin carboxamide

Supplementary materials

ChemRxiv supporting information MAY

Supplementary weblinks


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.