In Vitro and In Silico Biological Studies of 4-Phenyl-2-quinolone (4-PQ) Derivatives as Anticancer Agents

Yi Fong Chen, Bashir Lawal, Li Jiau Huang, Sheng Chu Kuo, Maryam Rachmawati Sumitra, Ntlotlang Mokgautsi, Hung Yun Lin, Hsu Shan Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Our previous study found that 2-phenyl-4-quinolone (2-PQ) derivatives are antimitotic agents, and we adopted the drug design concept of scaffold hopping to replace the 2-aromatic ring of 2-PQs with a 4-aromatic ring, representing 4-phenyl-2-quinolones (4-PQs). The 4-PQ compounds, whose structural backbones also mimic analogs of podophyllotoxin (PPT), maybe a new class of anticancer drugs with simplified PPT structures. In addition, 4-PQs are a new generation of anticancer lead compounds as apoptosis stimulators. On the other hand, previous studies showed that 4-arylcoumarin derivatives with 5-, 6-, and 7-methoxy substitutions displayed remarkable anticancer activities. Therefore, we further synthesized a series of 5-, 6-, and 7-methoxy-substituted 4-PQ derivatives (19–32) by Knorr quinoline cyclization, and examined their anticancer effectiveness. Among these 4-PQs, compound 22 demonstrated excellent antiproliferative activities against the COLO205 cell line (50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) = 0.32 μM) and H460 cell line (IC50 = 0.89 μM). Furthermore, we utilized molecular docking studies to explain the possible anticancer mechanisms of these 4-PQs by the docking mode in the colchicine-binding pocket of the tubulin receptor. Consequently, we selected the candidate compounds 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 27, and 28 to predict their absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity (ADMET) profiles. Pharmacokinetics (PKs) indicated that these 4-PQs displayed good drug-likeness and bioavailability, and had no cardiotoxic side effects or carcinogenicity, but we detected risks of drug–drug interactions and AMES toxicity (mutagenic). However, structural modifications of these 4-PQs could improve their PK properties and reduce their side effects, and their promising anticancer activities attracted our attention for further studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number555
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • 4-phenyl-2-quinolone (4-PQ)
  • anticancer
  • antimitotic agent
  • structure–activity relationship (SAR)
  • tubulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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