Synthesis and anticancer activity of all known (-)-agelastatin alkaloids

Sunkyu Han, Dustin S. Siegel, Karen C. Morrison, Paul J. Hergenrother, Mohammad Movassaghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The full details of our enantioselective total syntheses of (-)-agelastatins A-F (1-6), the evolution of a new methodology for synthesis of substituted azaheterocycles, and the first side-by-side evaluation of all known (-)-agelastatin alkaloids against nine human cancer cell lines are described. Our concise synthesis of these alkaloids exploits the intrinsic chemistry of plausible biosynthetic precursors and capitalizes on a late-stage synthesis of the C-ring. The critical copper-mediated cross-coupling reaction was expanded to include guanidine-based systems, offering a versatile preparation of substituted imidazoles. The direct comparison of the anticancer activity of all naturally occurring (-)-agelastatins in addition to eight advanced synthetic intermediates enabled a systematic analysis of the structure-activity relationship within the natural series. Significantly, (-)-agelastatin A (1) is highly potent against six blood cancer cell lines (20-190 nM) without affecting normal red blood cells (>333 μM). (-)-Agelastatin A (1) and (-)-agelastatin D (4), the two most potent members of this family, induce dose-dependent apoptosis and arrest cells in the G2/M-phase of the cell cycle; however, using confocal microscopy, we have determined that neither alkaloid affects tubulin dynamics within cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11970-11984
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Organic Chemistry
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 6 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry

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