Synthesis and optimization of a library of small molecule inhibitors of ricin toxin A



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Ricin is a potent cyctotoxin with no known antidote. Chapter 1 provides background and context for this thesis, which is primarily focused on probing the active site of Ricin toxin A (RTA). Relevant information about Ricin, its use, method of action, and noteworthy contributions towards the discovery of Ricin A chain inhibitors are provided. Furthermore, a brief description of the assays used by our collaborators to monitor RTA inhibition is provided. Additionally, a great deal of this thesis pertains to a particular heterocycle, pterin, and thus the remainder of Chapter 1 is dedicated to pterins, their physical properties, biological relevance, and selected reports of pterin chemistry. Chapter 2 details preliminary research focused on the use of nucleic acid-based platforms as RTA inhibitors. Two specific nucleic acids were chosen, adenine and guanine, and the chapter is split to address them individually. Rational for their use is provided, as well as the synthetic strategies investigated. Both platforms showed significant interference with the analysis assay, most pronounced for the adenine series. A primary goal throughout this thesis is the identification of a simple, rapid method to provide a library of new compounds. To this end, discussion of improved synthetic routes are provided within the section dedicated to guanines. Initial investigation into pterins as a platform for RTA inhibitors is provided in Chapter 3. Much of this chapter is concerned with hurtles encountered while dealing with the poor solubility of pterins, purification, and limits in reaction scope. Finally this chapter details a significant discovery in pterin's utility, both in terms of synthetic ease and preference towards one regioisomer over another. A variety of amides are initially used to probe the active site for significant interactions to the pterin pendents. Chapter 4 builds off the discoveries detailed within the previous chapter. Efforts to optimize the preliminary amide series from Chapter 3 are described, leading to a significant enhancement in activity. Additionally, Chapter 4 describes a synthetic breakthrough which greatly enhanced the speed of synthesis and complexity of the designed pterin inhibitors. Building upon the goal to map the RTA active site, a description of various peptide conjugated pterins is provided, as well as efforts to arrive at optimized isosteres of the most promising peptide derivatives.