Synthesis and Structure-Activity Relationship Studies of C(13)-Desmethylene-(−)-Zampanolide Analogs

18 January 2023, Version 2


We have prepared a series of partially reduced or demethylated analogs of the natural microtubule stabilizer (−)-zampanolide and we have assessed their antiproliferative activity, their microtubule-binding affinity and their effects on the cellular microtubule network and on cell cycle progression. For reasons of synthetic efficiency, these analogs were derived from 13-desmethylene-(-)-zampanolide, which we had previously shown to be an equally potent cancer cell growth inhibitor as the natural product. The synthesis of all compounds was based on a unified strategy that included final formation of the macrobicyclic core by an intramolecular HWE reaction and a stereoselective aza-aldol reaction to establish the C(20) stereocenter as the key steps. For the 5-desmethyl macrocycle, ring-closure relied on macrolactonization; however, elaboration of the macrocyclic aldehyde into the corresponding zampanolide analog was unsuccessful.All structural modifications investigated led to reduced cellular activity and lower microtubule-binding affinity compared to the parent 13-desmethylene-(–)-zampanolide, which may be ascribed to increased conformational flexibility due to the formal reduction of double bonds or the removal of the C(17)-methyl group. Notwithstanding this general trend, the cellular potency of 2,3-dihydro-13-desmethylene zampanolide as the most potent analog identified remained within a 9-fold range of that of 13-desmethylene-(–)-zampanolide (for 5 out of 6 cell lines). Notably, while the formal reduction of the C=C double bond of the enone system that is required for the covalent attachment of (−)-zampanolide to beta-tubulin caused a drop in antiproliferative activity of several hundred fold, the compound does bind to microtubules and shows the typical cellular hallmarks of a microtubule-stabilizing agent.


natural products
total synthesis
microtubule-stabilizing agents
drug discovery
structure-activity relationships
stereoselective synthesis


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