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Glutamate carboxypeptidase II (GCP(II)), also known as the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA), is a transmembrane zinc(II) metalloenzyme overexpressed in prostate cancer. Inhibitors of this receptor are used to target molecular imaging agents and molecular radiotherapy agents to prostate cancer and if the affinity of inhibitors for GCP(II)/PSMA could be improved, targeting might also improve. Compounds containing the dipeptide OH-Lys-C(O)-Glu-OH (compound 3), incorporating a urea motif, have high affinity for GCP(II)/PSMA. We hypothesized that substituting the zinc-coordinating urea group for a thiourea group, thus incorporating a sulfur atom, could facilitate stronger binding to zinc(II) within the active site, and thus improve affinity for GCP(II)/PSMA. A structurally analogous urea and thiourea pair (HO-Glu-C(O)-Glu-OH - compound 5 and HO-Glu-C(S)-Glu-OH - compound 6) were synthesized and the inhibitory concentration (IC 50) of each compound measured with a cell-based assay, allowing us to refute the hypothesis: the thiourea analogue showed 100-fold weaker binding to PSMA than the urea analogue.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128044
JournalBioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters
Early online date16 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2021


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