A series of indenopyrazoles was synthesized from the corresponding indanones and phenyl isothiocyanates in two steps. Among the compounds synthesized, methyl 3-((6-methoxy-1,4-dihydroindeno[1,2-c]pyrazol-3-yl)amino)benzoate 6m (GN39482) was found to possess a promising antiproliferative activity toward human cancer cells without affecting any antimicrobial and antimalarial activities at 100 nM. Both a methoxy group at R1 position and a methoxycarbonyl group at R2 position of the anilinoquinazoline framework are essential for the high cell growth inhibition. Both MorphoBase and ChemProteoBase profiling analyses suggested that compound 6m was classified as a tubulin inhibitor. Indeed, compound 6m inhibited the acetylated tubulin accumulation and the microtubule formation and induced G2/M cell cycle arrest in HeLa cells, revealing that a promising antiproliferative activity of compound 6m toward human cancer cells is probably caused by the tubulin polymerization inhibition.
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