Synthesis, biological evaluation, and molecular modeling of aza-crown ethers

Stepan S. Basok, Igor A. Schepetkin, Andrei I. Khlebnikov, Anatoliy F. Lutsyuk, Tatiana I. Kirichenko, Liliya N. Kirpotina, Victor I. Pavlovsky, Klim A. Leonov, Darya A. Vishenkova, Mark T. Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Synthetic and natural ionophores have been developed to catalyze ion transport and have been shown to exhibit a variety of biological effects. We synthesized 24 aza-and diaza-crown ethers containing adamantyl, adamantylalkyl, aminomethylbenzoyl, and ε-aminocaproyl substituents and analyzed their biological effects in vitro. Ten of the compounds (8, 10–17, and 21) increased intracellular calcium ([Ca2+ ]i) in human neutrophils, with the most potent being compound 15 (N,N’-bis[2-(1-adamantyl)acetyl]-4,10-diaza-15-crown-5), suggesting that these compounds could alter normal neutrophil [Ca2+ ]i flux. Indeed, a number of these compounds (i.e., 8, 10–17, and 21) inhibited [Ca2+ ]i flux in human neutrophils activated by N-formyl peptide (f MLF). Some of these compounds also inhibited chemotactic peptide-induced [Ca2+ ]i flux in HL60 cells transfected with N-formyl peptide receptor 1 or 2 (FPR1 or FPR2). In addition, several of the active compounds inhibited neutrophil reactive oxygen species production induced by phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) and neutrophil chemotaxis toward f MLF, as both of these processes are highly dependent on regulated [Ca2+ ]i flux. Quantum chemical calculations were performed on five structure-related diaza-crown ethers and their complexes with Ca2+, Na+, and K+ to obtain a set of molecular electronic properties and to correlate these properties with biological activity. According to density-functional theory (DFT) modeling, Ca2+ ions were more effectively bound by these compounds versus Na+ and K+. The DFT-optimized structures of the ligand-Ca2+ complexes and quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) analysis showed that the carbonyl oxygen atoms of the N,N’-diacylated diaza-crown ethers participated in cation binding and could play an important role in Ca2+ transfer. Thus, our modeling experiments provide a molecular basis to explain at least part of the ionophore mechanism of biological action of aza-crown ethers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2225
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2021


  • Aza-crown ether
  • Density-functional theory (DFT)
  • Ionophore
  • Neutrophil
  • Quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry

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