Novel Tryptanthrin Derivatives with Selectivity as c–Jun N–Terminal Kinase (JNK) 3 Inhibitors


The c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) family includes three proteins (JNK1-3) that regulate many physiological processes, including cell proliferation and differentiation, cell survival, and inflammation. Because of emerging data suggesting that JNK3 may play an important role in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease, as well as cancer pathogenesis, we sought to identify JNK inhibitors with increased selectivity for JNK3. A panel of 26 novel tryptanthrin-6-oxime analogs was synthesized and evaluated for JNK1-3 binding (Kd) and inhibition of cellular inflammatory responses. Compounds 4d (8-methoxyindolo[2,1-b]quinazolin-6,12-dione oxime) and 4e (8-phenylindolo[2,1-b]quinazolin-6,12-dione oxime) had high selectivity for JNK3 versus JNK1 and JNK2 and inhibited lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced nuclear factor-κB/activating protein 1 (NF-κB/AP-1) transcriptional activity in THP-1Blue cells and interleukin-6 (IL-6) production by MonoMac-6 monocytic cells in the low micromolar range. Likewise, compounds 4d, 4e, and pan-JNK inhibitor 4h (9-methylindolo[2,1-b]quinazolin-6,12-dione oxime) decreased LPS-induced c-Jun phosphorylation in MonoMac-6 cells, directly confirming JNK inhibition. Molecular modeling suggested modes of binding interaction of these compounds in the JNK3 catalytic site that were in agreement with the experimental data on JNK3 binding. Our results demonstrate the potential for developing anti-inflammatory drugs based on these nitrogen-containing heterocyclic systems with selectivity for JNK3.



anti-inflammatory, c-Jun N-terminal kinase, molecular docking, nuclear factor-κB, oxime, selective kinase inhibitor, tryptanthrin


Schepetkin IA, Karpenko OS, Kovrizhina AR, Kirpotina LN, Khlebnikov AI, Chekal SI, Radudik AV, Shybinska MO, Quinn MT. Novel Tryptanthrin Derivatives with Selectivity as c–Jun N–Terminal Kinase (JNK) 3 Inhibitors. Molecules. 2023; 28(12):4806.
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