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Design, in silico evaluation, and in vitro verification of new bivalent Smac mimetics with pro-apoptotic activity.

Bivalent Smac mimetics have been shown to possess binding affinity and pro-apoptotic activity similar to or more potent than that of native Smac, a protein dimer able to neutralize the anti-apoptotic activity of an inhibitor of caspase enzymes, XIAP, which endows cancer cells with resistance to anticancer drugs. We design five new bivalent Smac mimetics, which are formed by various linkers tethering two diazabicyclic cores being the IAP binding motifs. We built in silico models of the five mimetics by the TwistDock workflow and evaluated their conformational tendency, which suggests that compound 3, whose linker is n-hexylene, possess the highest binding potency among the five. After synthesis of these compounds, their ability in tumour cell growth inhibition and apoptosis induction displayed in experiments with SK-OV-3 and MDA-MB-231 cancer cell lines confirms our prediction. Among the five mimetics, compound 3 displays promising pro-apoptotic activity and deserves further optimization.

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