Structural basis for the activity of the RSK-specific inhibitor, SL0101

Jeffrey A. Smith, David J. Maloney, Sidney M. Hecht, Deborah A. Lannigan

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68 Scopus citations


Inappropriate activity of p90 ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK) has been implicated in various human cancers as well as other pathologies. We previously reported the isolation, characterization, and synthesis of the natural product kaempferol 3-O-(3″,4″-di-O-acetyl-α-l-rhamnopyranoside), termed SL0101 [Smith, J. A.; Poteet-Smith, C. E.; Xu, Y.; Errington, T. M.; Hecht, S. M.; Lannigan, D. A. Cancer Res., 2005, 65, 1027-1034: Xu, Y.-M; Smith, J. A.; Lannigan, D. A.; Hecht, S. M. Bioorg. Med. Chem., 2006, 14, 3974-3977: Maloney, D. J.; Hecht, S. M. Org. Lett., 2005, 7, 1097-1099]. SL0101 is a potent and specific inhibitor of RSK; therefore, we performed an analysis of the structural basis for the inhibitory activity of this lead compound. In in vitro kinase assays we found that acylation of the rhamnose moiety and the 4′, 5, and 7-hydroxyl groups are responsible for maintaining a high affinity interaction of RSK with SL0101. It is likely that the hydroxyl groups facilitate RSK binding through their ability to form hydrogen bonds. To determine whether the SL0101 derivatives were specific for inhibition of RSK we analyzed their ability to preferentially inhibit the growth of the human breast cancer line, MCF-7, compared to the normal human breast line, MCF-10A. We have previously validated this differential growth assay as a convenient readout for analyzing the specificity of RSK inhibitors [Smith, J. A.; Maloney, D. J.; Clark, D. E.; Xu, Y.-M.; Hecht, S. M.; Lannigan, D. A. Bioorg. Med. Chem., 2006, 14, 6034-6042]. We found that acylation of the rhamnose moiety was essential for maintaining the selectivity for RSK inhibition in intact cells. Further, the efficacy of SL0101 in intact cells is limited by cellular uptake as well as possible hydrolysis of the acetyl groups on the rhamnose moiety by ubiquitous intracellular esterases. These studies should facilitate the development of a RSK inhibitor, based on the SL0101 pharmacophore, as an anti-cancer chemotherapeutic agent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5018-5034
Number of pages17
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Kaempferol 3-O-(3″,4″-di-O-acetyl-α-l-rhamnopyranoside)
  • Kinase inhibitor
  • RSK
  • SL0101
  • Structure-activity relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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