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Design and molecular modeling of novel P38α MAPK inhibitors targeting breast cancer, synthesized from oxygen heterocyclic natural compounds

Two new series of furochromone and benzofuran derivatives were designed, synthesized and evaluated for their in vitro anticancer activity against MCF-7 and MDA231 breast cancer cell lines. Compounds 5, 6, 7, 9, 15a, 16, 17a and 18 exhibited the best antiproliferative activities with IC50 values ranging from 1.19 to 2.78 µM against MCF-7 superior to lapatinib as reference standard (IC50; 4.69 µM). Compounds 15a and 18 revealed significant cytotoxic activity against MCF-7 and MDA231, therefore their inhibitory potencies against p38α MAP kinase were evaluated. Remarkably they exhibited significant IC50 of 0.04 µM comparable to SB203580 (IC50; 0.50 µM) as a reference standard. These promising results of cytotoxic activity and significant inhibition of p38α MAP kinase, were confirmed by exploring the effect of benzofuran derivative (18) on the apoptotic induction and cell cycle progression of MCF-7 cell line. Compound 18 induced preG1 apoptosis and cell growth arrest at G2/M phase preventing the mitotic cycle. Moreover it activated the caspase-7 which executes apoptosis. Molecular docking study was carried out using GOLD program to predict the mode of binding interaction of the synthesized compounds into the target p38α MAPK. Additionally, the physicochemical properties and ADME parameters of compound 18 were examined in silico to investigate its drug-likeness.

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