Medicinal chemistry, organic chemistry, cancer, polyamines, motuporamine, polyamine transport


The mammalian polyamine transport system (PTS) has been of interest due to its roles in cancer and maintaining cellular homeostasis. Polyamines are essential growth factors which are tightly controlled via a balance of biosynthesis, metabolism, import, and export. This work focused on the development and biological testing of polyamine transport probes to help understand the molecular requirements of the PTS. This was mediated through the use of a CHO (PTS active) and CHO-MG* (PTS deficient) screen, where compounds demonstrating high toxicity in CHO and low toxicity in CHO-MG* were considered PTS selective. The first chapter focused on the development of polyamine-based drugs which are both metabolically stable to polyamine oxidase (PAO) activity and are hyperselective for targeting the PTS. This approach was optimized by combining a di-substituted aryl design with terminal N-methylation of the appended polyamine chains to generate a new class of superior PTS agonists. The metabolic stability of these compounds was demonstrated in CHO and CHO-MG* in the presence and absence of a known PAO inhibitor, aminoguanidine (AG). Highly PTS selective compounds were then tested in the NCI-60 cell line screen to demonstrate the effectiveness of polyamine-based drugs in cancer therapy. During this screen, the MALME-3M (human melanoma) cell line was identified as being very sensitive to these PTS targeting drugs. Further studies using MALME-3M and its normal counterpart, MALME-3, showed excellent targeting of the cancer line over MALME-3. For example, The MeN44Nap44NMe compound showed 59-fold higher toxicity in MALME-3M over MALME-3. The second chapter focused on the development of potential polyamine transport inhibitors (PTIs) for use in combination therapy with ?-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO). This therapy is predicated upon reducing sustained polyamine depletion within cells by inhibiting both polyamine biosynthesis with DFMO and polyamine transport with the PTI ligand. Potential PTIs were identified by blocking the uptake of spermidine in DFMO-treated CHO and L3.6pl cells. Previous work has identified a tri-substituted polyamine-based design as an effective PTI. Low toxicity and a low Ki value in a L1210 screen were good predictors for PTI efficacy. The structural requirements for a potent PTI were explored by modulating the toxicity through the introduction of amide bonds, and also by determining the number and orientation of the polyamine messages (appended to an aryl core) required for efficient inhibition of polyamine uptake. These experiments showed that a tri-substituted design and a triamine message (homospermidine) appended was optimal for PTI potency. The final chapter focused on the development of Dihydromotuporamine C derivatives as non-toxic anti-metastatic agents. Dihydromotuporamine C demonstrated good anti-invasive properties with tumor cells. Derivatives were made in an effort to reduce the cytotoxicity of the parent and improve the anti-migration potency. The motuporamine derivatives all have a polyamine message (norspermidine or homospermidine) appended to make a macrocycle core, making them prime targets to evaluate as potential PTS ligands in the CHO and CHO-MG* screen. Each compound was also tested in the highly metastatic pancreatic cancer cell line L3.6pl to determine both its IC50 value and maximum tolerated dose (MTD). The anti-migration assay was performed at the lowest MTD obtained (0.6 [micro]M) in order to compare the series at the same non-toxic dose. The results suggested that as the N1-amine center was moved further from the macrocyclic ring, an increased ability to inhibit cell migration and reduced toxicity was observed. These collective findings provide new tools for cell biologists to modulate and target polyamine transport in mammalian cells. Future applications of these technologies include new cancer therapies which are cell-selective and inhibit the spread of tumors.


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Graduation Date





Phanstiel, Otto


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program









Release Date

November 2012

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic

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Chemistry Commons