Acta pharmacologica Sinica

Discovery and structural optimization of 1-phenyl-3-(1-phenylethyl)urea derivatives as novel inhibitors of CRAC channel.

PMID 26256403


Ca(2+)-release-activated Ca(2+) (CRAC) channel, a subfamily of store-operated channels, is formed by calcium release-activated calcium modulator 1 (ORAI1), and gated by stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1). CRAC channel may be a novel target for the treatment of immune disorders and allergy. The aim of this study was to identify novel small molecule CRAC channel inhibitors. HEK293 cells stably co-expressing both ORAI1 and STIM1 were used for high-throughput screening. A hit, 1-phenyl-3-(1-phenylethyl)urea, was identified that inhibited CRAC channels by targeting ORAI1. Five series of its derivatives were designed and synthesized, and their primary structure-activity relationships (SARs) were analyzed. All derivatives were assessed for their effects on Ca(2+) influx through CRAC channels on HEK293 cells, cytotoxicity in Jurkat cells, and IL-2 production in Jurkat cells expressing ORAI1-SS-eGFP. A total of 19 hits were discovered in libraries containing 32 000 compounds using the high-throughput screening. 1-Phenyl-3-(1-phenylethyl)urea inhibited Ca(2+) influx with IC50 of 3.25±0.17 μmol/L. SAR study on its derivatives showed that the alkyl substituent on the α-position of the left-side benzylic amine (R1) was essential for Ca(2+) influx inhibition and that the S-configuration was better than the R-configuration. The derivatives in which the right-side R3 was substituted by an electron-donating group showed more potent inhibitory activity than those that were substituted by electron-withdrawing groups. Furthermore, the free N-H of urea was not necessary to maintain the high potency of Ca(2+) influx inhibition. The N,N'-disubstituted or N'-substituted derivatives showed relatively low cytotoxicity but maintained the ability to inhibit IL-2 production. Among them, compound 5b showed an improved inhibition of IL-2 production and low cytotoxicity. 1-Phenyl-3-(1-phenylethyl)urea is a novel CRAC channel inhibitor that specifically targets ORAI1. This study provides a new chemical scaffold for design and development of CRAC channel inhibitors with improved Ca(2+) influx inhibition, immune inhibition and low cytotoxicity.