Incorporation of metabolically stable ketones into a small molecule probe to increase potency and water solubility

Marie Helene Larraufie, Wan Seok Yang, Elise Jiang, Ajit G. Thomas, Barbara S. Slusher, Brent R. Stockwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Introducing a reactive carbonyl to a scaffold that does not otherwise have an electrophilic functionality to create a reversible covalent inhibitor is a potentially useful strategy for enhancing compound potency. However, aldehydes are metabolically unstable, which precludes the use of this strategy for compounds to be tested in animal models or in human clinical studies. To overcome this limitation, we designed ketone-based functionalities capable of forming reversible covalent adducts, while displaying high metabolic stability, and imparting improved water solubility to their pendant scaffold. We tested this strategy on the ferroptosis inducer and experimental therapeutic erastin, and observed substantial increases in compound potency. In particular, a new carbonyl erastin analog, termed IKE, displayed improved potency, solubility and metabolic stability, thus representing an ideal candidate for future in vivo cancer therapeutic applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4787-4792
Number of pages6
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Covalent
  • Erastin
  • Ferroptosis
  • Metabolic stability
  • Reactive carbonyl

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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