Aplog-1, a simplified analogue of tumor-promoting debromoaplysiatoxin, is antiproliferative but not tumor-promoting. Our recent study has suggested that local hydrophobicity around the spiroketal moiety is a crucial determinant for antiproliferative activity. To further clarify the structural features relevant to the activity, we synthesized two methyl derivatives of aplog-1, where a methyl group was installed at position 4 or 10 of the spiroketal moiety. 10-Methyl-aplog-1 (5) bound to the C1B domains of novel PKCs (δ, η, and θ) with subnanomolar K i values, approximately 10-20 times stronger than aplog-1, and markedly inhibited the growth of many human cancer cell lines, while 4-methyl-aplog-1 (4) had levels of activity similar to those of aplog-1. Interestingly, 5 showed little tumor-promoting activity unlike the tumor promoter debromoaplysiatoxin. These results suggest that 5 is a potent PKC ligand without tumor-promoting activity and could be a therapeutic lead for the treatment of cancer, like bryostatins.
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