Residual Complexity Does Impact Organic Chemistry and Drug Discovery: The Case of Rufomyazine and Rufomycin
journal contributionposted on 10.02.2022, 21:19 by Mary P Choules, Larry KleinLarry Klein, David C Lankin, James B McAlpine, Sang Hyun ChoSang Hyun Cho, Jinhua Cheng, Hanki Lee, Joo-Won Suh, Birgit JakiBirgit Jaki, Scott FranzblauScott Franzblau, Guido PauliGuido Pauli
Residual complexity (RC) involves the impact of subtle but critical structural and biological features on drug lead validation, including unexplained effects related to unidentified impurities. RC commonly plagues drug discovery efforts due to the inherent imperfections of chromatographic separation methods. The new diketopiperazine, rufomyazine (6), and the previously known antibiotic, rufomycin (7), represent a prototypical case of RC that (almost) resulted in the misassignment of biological activity. The case exemplifies that impurities well below the natural abundance of 13C (1.1%) can be highly relevant and calls for advanced analytical characterization of drug leads with extended molar dynamic ranges of >1:1,000 using qNMR and LC-MS. Isolated from an actinomycete strain, 6 was originally found to be active against Mycobacterium tuberculosis with a minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of 2 μg/mL and high selectivity. As a part of lead validation, the dipeptide was synthesized and surprisingly found to be inactive. The initially observed activity was eventually attributed to a very minor contamination (0.24% [m/m]) with a highly active cyclic peptide (MIC ∼ 0.02 μM), subsequently identified as an analogue of 7. This study illustrates the serious implications RC can exert on organic chemistry and drug discovery, and what efforts are vital to improve lead validation and efficiency, especially in NP-related drug discovery programs.