Novel small-molecule agents to treat Bordetella pertussis infections are highly desirable, as pertussis (whooping cough) remains a serious health threat worldwide. In this study, a series of 2-substituted derivatives of 9-[2-(phosphonomethoxy)ethyl]adenine (PMEA, adefovir), in their isopropyl ester bis(L-phenylalanine) prodrug form, were designed and synthesized as potent inhibitors of adenylate cyclase toxin (ACT) isolated from B. pertussis. The series consists of PMEA analogues bearing either a linear or branched aliphatic chain or a heteroatom at the C2 position of the purine moiety. Compounds with a small C2 substituent showed high potency against ACT without cytotoxic effects as well as good selectivity over human adenylate cyclase isoforms AC1, AC2, and AC5. The most potent ACT inhibitor was found to be the bisamidate prodrug of the 2-fluoro PMEA derivative (IC50 =0.145 μM). Although the bisamidate prodrugs reported herein exhibit overall lower activity than the bis(pivaloyloxymethyl) prodrug (adefovir dipivoxil), their toxicity and plasma stability profiles are superior. Furthermore, the bisamidate prodrug was shown to be more stable in plasma than in macrophage homogenate, indicating that the free phosphonate can be effectively distributed to target tissues, such as the lungs. Thus, ACT inhibitors based on acyclic nucleoside phosphonates may represent a new strategy to treat whooping cough.
Authors:Česnek M1, Jansa P1, Šmídková M1, Mertlíková-Kaiserová H1, Dračínský M1, Brust TF2, Pávek P3,4, Trejtnar F3, Watts VJ2, Janeba Z5.