Novel cinnamic acid/4-aminoquinoline conjugates bearing non-proteinogenic amino acids: Towards the development of potential dual action antimalarials
A series of cinnamic acid/4-aminoquinoline conjugates conceived to link, through a proper retro-enantio dipeptide, a heterocyclic core known to prevent hemozoin formation, to a trans-cinnamic acid motif capable of inhibiting enzyme catalytic Cys residues, were synthesized as potential dual-action antimalarials. The effect of amino acid configuration and the absence of the dipeptide spacer were also assessed. The replacement of the D-amino acids by their natural L counterparts led to a decrease in both anti-plasmodial and falcipaineinhibitory activity, suggesting that the former are preferable. Molecules with such spacer were active against blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum, in vitro, and hemozoin formation, implying that the dipeptide has a key role in mediating these two activities. In turn, compounds without spacer were better falcipain-2 inhibitors, likely because these compounds are smaller and have their vinyl bonds in closer vicinity to the catalytic Cys, as suggested by molecular modeling calculations. These novel conjugates constitute promising leads for the development of new antiplasmodials targeted at blood-stage malaria parasites.