Synthesis and evaluation of acridine- and acridone-based anti-herpes agents with topoisomerase activity

John R. Goodell, Avni A. Madhok, Hiroshi Hiasa, David M. Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


The discovery of new non-nucleoside antiviral compounds is of significant and growing interest for treating herpes virus infections due to the emergence of nucleoside-resistant strains. Using a whole cell virus-induced cytopathogenic assay, we tested a series of substituted triaryl heterocyclic compounds including acridones, xanthones, and acridines. The compounds which showed activity against Herpes Simplex-1 and/or Herpes Simplex-2 were further assayed for inhibition of topoisomerase activity to gain insight into the mechanism of action. The results indicate that the acridine analogs bearing substituted carboxamides and bulky 9-amino functionalities are able to inhibit herpes infections as well as inhibit topoisomerase II relaxation of supercoiled DNA. Given the mechanism of action of amsacrine (a closely related, well-studied 9-amino substituted acridine), the compounds were further tested in a DNA topoisomerase II cleavage assay to determine if the compounds function as poisons. The results show that the acridines synthesized in this study function through a different mechanism to that of amsacrine, most likely by blocking topoisomerase binding to DNA (akin to that of aclarubicin). This not only suggests a unique mechanism of action in treating herpes virus infections, but also may be of great interest in the development of anticancer agents that target topoisomerase II activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5467-5480
Number of pages14
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 2006


  • Acalrubicin
  • Acridine
  • Acridone
  • Amsacrine
  • Antiviral
  • DNA binding
  • HSV-1
  • HSV-2
  • Herpes virus
  • Heterocycle
  • Intercalator
  • Topoisomerase
  • Topoisomerase catalytic inhibitor
  • Topoisomerase poison
  • Xanthone


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