The lymphocyte K+ channel Kv1.3 constitutes an attractive pharmacological target for the selective suppression of terminally differentiated effector memory T (TEM) cells in T cell mediated autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes. Unfortunately, none of the existing small molecule Kv1.3 blockers is selective, and many of them, such as correolide, 4-phenyl-4-[3-(methoxyphenyl)-3-oxo-2- azapropyl] cyclohexanone, and our own compound Psora-4 inhibit the cardiac K+ channel Kv1.5. By further exploring the structure activity relationship around Psora-4 through a combination of traditional medicinal chemistry and whole-cell patch-clamp, we identified a series of new phenoxyalkoxypsoralens that exhibit 2- to 50-fold selectivity for Kv1.3 over Kv1.5, depending on their exact substitution pattern. The most potent and "druglike" compound of this series, 5-(4-phenoxybutoxy)psoralen (PAP-1), blocks Kv1.3 in a use-dependent manner, with a Hill coefficient of 2 and an EC50 of 2 nM, by preferentially binding to the C-type inactivated state of the channel. PAP-1 is 23-fold selective over Kv1.5, 33- to 125-fold selective over other Kv1-family channels, and 500- to 7500-fold selective over Kv2.1, Kv3.1, Kv3.2, Kv4.2, HERG, calcium-activated K+ channels, Na+, Ca2+, and Cl- channels. PAP-1 does not exhibit cytotoxic or phototoxic effects, is negative in the Ames test, and affects cytochrome P450-dependent enzymes only at micromolar concentrations. PAP-1 potently inhibits the proliferation of human TEM cells and suppresses delayed type hypersensitivity, a TEM cell-mediated reaction, in rats. PAP-1 and several of its derivatives therefore constitute excellent new tools to further explore Kv1.3 as a target for immunosuppression and could potentially be developed into orally available immunomodulators.
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