Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.
Water-soluble isoindoloquinoxalin (IIQ) imines and the corresponding acetates were conveniently prepared from the key intermediates 2-(2'-aminophenyl)-2H-isoindole-1-carbonitriles obtained by a Strecker reaction between substituted 1,2-dicarbaldehydes and 1,2-phenylenediamines. Both series were screened by the National Cancer Institute (Bethesda, MD) and showed potent antiproliferative activity against a panel of 60 human tumor cell lines. Several of the novel compounds showed GI50 values at a nanomolar level on the majority of the tested cell lines. Among IIQ derivatives, methoxy substituents at positions 3 and 8 or/and 9 were especially effective in impairing cell cycle progression and inducing apoptosis in cancer cells. These effects were associated to IIQ-mediated impairment of tubulin polymerization at pharmacologically significant concentrations of tested compounds. In addition, impaired DNA topoisomerase I functions and perturbation in telomere architecture were observed in cells exposed to micromolar concentrations of IIQ derivatives. The above results suggest that IIQ derivatives exhibit multi-target cytotoxic activities.