In vitro and in silico evaluation of structurally diverse benzyl-pyrrolidine-3-ol analogues as apoptotic agents via caspase activation

Tahira Naqvi, Asif Amin, Shujat Ali, Mohsin Y. Lone, Nadeem Bashir, Shafi U. Khan, Thet T. Htar, Masood Ahmad Rizvi

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The activation of caspases is central to apoptotic process in living systems. Defects in apoptosis have been implicated with carcinogenesis. Need to develop smart agents capable of inducing apoptosis in tumor cells is obvious. With this motive, diversity oriented synthesis of 1-benzylpyrrolidin-3-ol analogues was envisaged. The multi component Ugi reaction synthesized library of electronically diverse analogues was explored for cytotoxic propensity towards a panel of human cancer cell lines at 10 µM. The lead compounds exhibit a selective cytotoxicity towards HL-60 cells as compared to cell lines derived from solid tumors. Besides, their milder cytotoxic effect on non-cancerous cell lines reaffirm their selective action towards cancer cells only.The lead molecules were tested for their ability to target caspase-3, as a vital protease triggering apoptosis. The lead compounds were observed to induce apoptosis in HL-60 cells around 10 µM concentration. The lead compounds exhibited various non-covalent supra type interactions with caspase-3 key residues around the active site. The binding ability of lead compounds with caspase-3 was studied via molecular docking and molecular dynamic (MD) simulations. MD simulations indicated the stability of compound-caspase-3 complex throughout the 50 ns simulation run. The stability and bio-availability of the lead compounds under physiological conditions was assessed by their interaction with Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA) as model protein. BSA interactions of lead compounds were studied by various bio-physical methods and further substantiated with in silico MD simulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-682
Number of pages16
JournalActa Chimica Slovenica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Benzyl-pyrrolidine-3-ol
  • Bioavailability, UGI reaction
  • Biophysical methods
  • Caspase-3
  • Molecular dynamic simulations

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