Tumor-Targeted Delivery of 6-Diazo-5-oxo- l -norleucine (DON) Using Substituted Acetylated Lysine Prodrugs

Lukáš Tenora, Jesse Alt, Ranjeet P. Dash, Alexandra J. Gadiano, Kateřina Novotná, Vijayabhaskar Veeravalli, Jenny Lam, Quinn R. Kirkpatrick, Kathryn M. Lemberg, Pavel Majer, Rana Rais, Barbara S. Slusher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


6-Diazo-5-oxo-l-norleucine (DON) is a glutamine antagonist with robust anticancer efficacy; however, its therapeutic potential was hampered by its biodistribution and toxicity to normal tissues, specifically gastrointestinal (GI) tissues. To circumvent DON's toxicity, we synthesized a series of tumor-targeted DON prodrugs designed to circulate inert in plasma and preferentially activate over DON in tumor. Our best prodrug 6 (isopropyl 2-(6-acetamido-2-(adamantane-1-carboxamido)hexanamido)-6-diazo-5-oxohexanoate) showed stability in plasma, liver, and intestinal homogenates yet was readily cleaved to DON in P493B lymphoma cells, exhibiting a 55-fold enhanced tumor cell-to-plasma ratio versus that of DON and resulting in a dose-dependent inhibition of cell proliferation. Using carboxylesterase 1 knockout mice that were shown to mimic human prodrug metabolism, systemic administration of 6 delivered 11-fold higher DON exposure to tumor (target tissue; AUC0-t = 5.1 nmol h/g) versus GI tissues (toxicity tissue; AUC0-t = 0.45 nmol h/g). In summary, these studies describe the discovery of a glutamine antagonist prodrug that provides selective tumor exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3524-3538
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of medicinal chemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 11 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


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