Synthesis, Biological Evaluation, and Molecular Modeling of Aza-Crown Ethers


Synthetic and natural ionophores have been developed to catalyze ion transport and have been shown to exhibit a variety of biological effects. We synthesized 24 aza- and diaza-crown ethers containing adamantyl, adamantylalkyl, aminomethylbenzoyl, and ε-aminocaproyl substituents and analyzed their biological effects in vitro. Ten of the compounds (8, 10–17, and 21) increased intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i) in human neutrophils, with the most potent being compound 15 (N,N’-bis[2-(1-adamantyl)acetyl]-4,10-diaza-15-crown-5), suggesting that these compounds could alter normal neutrophil [Ca2+]i flux. Indeed, a number of these compounds (i.e., 8, 10–17, and 21) inhibited [Ca2+]i flux in human neutrophils activated by N-formyl peptide (fMLF). Some of these compounds also inhibited chemotactic peptide-induced [Ca2+]i flux in HL60 cells transfected with N-formyl peptide receptor 1 or 2 (FPR1 or FPR2). In addition, several of the active compounds inhibited neutrophil reactive oxygen species production induced by phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) and neutrophil chemotaxis toward fMLF, as both of these processes are highly dependent on regulated [Ca2+]i flux. Quantum chemical calculations were performed on five structure-related diaza-crown ethers and their complexes with Ca2+, Na+, and K+ to obtain a set of molecular electronic properties and to correlate these properties with biological activity. According to density-functional theory (DFT) modeling, Ca2+ ions were more effectively bound by these compounds versus Na+ and K+. The DFT-optimized structures of the ligand-Ca2+ complexes and quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) analysis showed that the carbonyl oxygen atoms of the N,N’-diacylated diaza-crown ethers participated in cation binding and could play an important role in Ca2+ transfer. Thus, our modeling experiments provide a molecular basis to explain at least part of the ionophore mechanism of biological action of aza-crown ethers.



aza crown


Basok, S. S., Schepetkin, I. A., Khlebnikov, A. I., Lutsyuk, A. F., Kirichenko, T. I., Kirpotina, L. N., ... & Quinn, M. T. (2021). Synthesis, biological evaluation, and molecular modeling of aza-crown ethers. Molecules, 26(8), 2225.
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