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Development of both potent and selective kinase inhibitors is a challenging task in modern drug discovery. The innate promiscuity of kinase inhibitors largely results from ATP-mimetic binding to the kinase hinge region. We present a novel class of substituted 7,8-dichloro-1-oxo-β-carbolines based on the distinct structural features of the alkaloid bauerine C whose kinase inhibitory activity does not rely on canonical ATP-mimetic hinge interactions. Intriguingly, cocrystal structures revealed an unexpected inverted binding mode and the presence of halogen bonds with kinase backbone residues. The compounds exhibit excellent selectivity over a comprehensive panel of human protein kinases while inhibiting selected kinases such as the oncogenic PIM1 at low nanomolar concentrations. Together, our biochemical and structural data suggest that this scaffold may serve as a valuable template for the design and development of specific inhibitors of various kinases including the PIM family of kinases, CLKs, DAPK3 (ZIPK), BMP2K (BIKE), and others.

Original publication




Journal article


J Med Chem

Publication Date





403 - 413


Antineoplastic Agents, Carbolines, Cell Line, Tumor, Crystallography, X-Ray, Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor, Humans, Models, Molecular, Molecular Structure, Protein Binding, Protein Kinase Inhibitors, Stereoisomerism, Structure-Activity Relationship