Efforts to develop ligands that distinguish between clinically relevant 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C serotonin receptor subtypes have been challenging, because their sequences have high homology. Previous studies reported that a novel aplysinopsin belonging to a chemical class of natural products isolated from a marine sponge was selective for the 5-HT2C over the 5-HT2A receptor subtype. Our goal was to explore the 5-HT2A/2C receptor structure-affinity relationships of derivatives based on the aplysinopsin natural product pharmacophore. Twenty aplysinopsin derivatives were synthesized, purified and tested for their affinities for cloned human serotonin 5-HT1A, 5-HT2A, and 5-HT2C receptor subtypes. Four compounds in this series had >30-fold selectivity for 5-HT2A or 5-HT2C receptors. The compound (E)-5-((5,6-dichloro-1H-indol-3-yl)methylene)- 2-imino-1,3-dimethylimidazolidin-4-one (UNT-TWU-22, 16) had approximately 2100-fold selectivity for the serotonin 5-HT2C receptor subtype: an affinity for 5-HT2C equal to 46 nM and no detectable affinity for the 5-HT1A or 5-HT2A receptor subtypes. The two most important factors controlling 5-HT2A or 5-HT2C receptor subtype selectivity were the combined R1,R3-alkylation of the imidazolidinone ring and the type and number of halogens on the indole ring of the aplysinopsin pharmacophore.
- 5-HT2C receptor selective ligand
- Natural product analogue
- Serotonin receptor