We have screened our compound collection in an established cell based assay that measures the derepression of an epigenetically silenced transgene, the locus derepression assay. The screen led to the identification of 4-[4-(1-methylbenzimidazol-2-yl)piperazin-1- yl]sulfonylbenzenecarbohydroxamic acid (9b) as an active which was found to inhibit HDAC1. In initial structure activity relationships study, the 1-methylbenzimidazole ring was replaced by the isosteric heterocycles benzimidazole, benzoxazole, and benzothiazole and the position of the hydroxamic acid substituent on the phenyl ring was varied. Whereas compounds bearing a para substituted hydroxamic acid (9a-d) were active HDAC inhibitors, the meta substituted analogues (8a-d) were appreciably inactive. Compounds 9a-d selectively inhibited HDAC6 (IC50 = 0.1-1.0μM) over HDAC1 (IC50 = 0.9-6μM) and moreover, also selectively inhibited the growth of lung cancer cells vs. patient matched normal cells. The compounds induce a cell cycle arrest in the S-phase while induction of apoptosis is neglible as compared to controls. Molecular modeling studies uncovered that the MMGBSA energy for interaction of 9a-d with HDAC6 was higher than for HDAC1 providing structural rationale for the HDAC6 selectivity.
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