An alkynylpyrimidine-based covalent inhibitor that targets a unique cysteine in NF-kB-inducing kinase (NIK)

Islam Al-Khawaldeh, Claire Jennings, Mohammed J. Al Yasiri, Gregory G Aldred, Christine Basmadjian, Cinzia Bordoni, Suzannah J Harnor, Amy B. Heptinstall, Stephen J Hobson, Shaimaa Khalifa, Honorine Lebraud, Mathew P. Martin, Duncan C. Miller, Harry J Shrives, Joao V. de Souza, Hannah L Stewart, Max Temple, Huw D Thomas, Jane Totobenazara, Julie A TuckerSusan J Tudhope, Lan Z Wang, Agnieszka K Bronowska, Celine Cano, Jane A Endicott, Bernard T. Golding, Ian R. Hardcastle, Ian Hickson, Stephen R Wedge, Elaine Willmore, Martin E. M Noble, Michael J Waring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


NF-κB-inducing kinase (NIK) is a key enzyme in the noncanonical NF-κB pathway, of interest in the treatment of a variety of diseases including cancer. Validation of NIK as a drug target requires potent and selective inhibitors. The protein contains a cysteine residue at position 444 in the back pocket of the active site, unique within the kinome. Analysis of existing inhibitor scaffolds and early structure–activity relationships (SARs) led to the design of C444-targeting covalent inhibitors based on alkynyl heterocycle warheads. Mass spectrometry provided proof of the covalent mechanism, and the SAR was rationalized by computational modeling. Profiling of more potent analogues in tumor cell lines with constitutively activated NIK signaling induced a weak antiproliferative effect, suggesting that kinase inhibition may have limited impact on cancer cell growth. This study shows that alkynyl heterocycles are potential cysteine traps, which may be employed where common Michael acceptors, such as acrylamides, are not tolerated.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2021


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