Pin1 Inhibitors: Towards Understanding the Enzymatic Mechanism


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Virginia Tech


An important role of Pin1 is to catalyze the cis-trans isomerization of pSer/Thr-Pro bonds; as such, it plays an important role in many cellular events through the effects of conformational change on the function of its biological substrates, including Cdc25, c-Jun, and p53. The expression of Pin1 correlates with cyclin D1 levels, which contributes to cancer cell transformation. Overexpression of Pin1 promotes tumor growth, while its inhibition causes tumor cell apoptosis. Because Pin1 is overexpressed in many human cancer tissues, including breast, prostate, and lung cancer tissues, it plays an important role in oncogenesis, making its study vital for the development of anti-cancer agents.

Many inhibitors have been discovered for Pin1, including 1) several classes of designed inhibitors such as alkene isosteres, non-peptidic, small molecular Pin1 inhibitors, and indanyl ketones, and 2) several natural products such as juglone, pepticinnamin E analogues, PiB and its derivatives obtained from a library screen. These Pin1 inhibitors show promise in the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic anticancer drugs due to their ability to block cell cycle progression. In order to develop potent Pin1 inhibitors, the concept of transition-state analogues was used for the design of three classes of compounds: ketoamide, ketone, and reduced amide analogues.

Specifically, a convergent synthesis of α-ketoamide inhibitors of Pin1 was developed. An α-hydroxyorthothioester derivative of Ser was reacted directly with an aminyl synthon. The reaction was catalyzed by HgO and HgCl2 to form an α-hydroxyamide. Hydrolysis and coupling were combined in one step in 80% yield. Two diastereomers of a phospho-Ser-Pro α-ketoamide analogue were synthesized. The resulting IC50 values of 100 µM and 200 µM were surprisingly weak for the Pin1 peptidyl-prolyl isomerase.

Diastereomeric ketones were synthesized by coupling cyclohexenyl lithium to the serine Weinreb amide, via the Michael addition of a carboxylate synthon. The IC50 values of the two ketone diastereomers were determined to be 260 μM and 61 μM, respectively.

Five reduced amide inhibitors for Pin1 were synthesized through a selective reduction using borane. The most potent inhibitor was found to be Fmocâ pSerâ Ψ[CH2N]-Proâ tryptamine, which had an IC50 value of 6.3 µM. This represents a 4.5-fold better inhibition for Pin1 than a comparable cis-amide alkene isostere. The co-crystal structure of Acâ pSerâ Ψ[CH2N]-Proâ tryptamine bound to Pin1 was determined to 1.76 Ã resolution.

Towards understanding the two proposed mechanisms of Pin1 catalysis, nucleophilic-additition mechanism and twisted-amide mechanism, three classes of Pin1 inhibitors (ketoamide, ketone, and reduced amide analogues) involving a total of nine compounds were synthesized and evaluated. The weak inhibitory activities of ketoamide and ketone analogues do not support the nucleophilic-addition mechanism, while the twisted-amide mechanism of Pin1 catalysis is promising based on the reduced amide inhibitors with good potencies.



PPIase assay, inhibition, Pin1, anti-cancer drug target, transition-state analogues, ketoamides, ketones, reduced amides