Synthesis of new carboxylesterase inhibitors and evaluation of potency and water solubility

C. E. Wheelock, T. F. Severson, B. D. Hammock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Carboxylesterases are essential enzymes in the hydrolysis and detoxification of numerous pharmaceuticals and pesticides. They are vital in mediating organophosphate toxicity and in activating many prodrugs such as the chemotherapeutic agent CPT-11. It is therefore important to study the catalytic mechanism responsible for carboxylesterase-induced hydrolysis, which can be accomplished through the use of potent and selective inhibitors. Trifluoromethyl ketone (TFK)-containing compounds are the most potent esterase inhibitors described to date. The inclusion of a thioether moiety β to the carbonyl further increased TFK inhibitor potency. In this study, we have synthesized the sulfone analogues of a series of aliphatic and aromatic substituted thioether TFKs to evaluate their potency and solubility properties. This structural change shifted the keto/hydrate equilibrium from <9% hydrate to >95% hydrate, forming almost exclusively the gem-diol. These new compounds were evaluated for their inhibition of carboxylesterase activity in three different systems, rat liver microsomes, commercial porcine esterase, and juvenile hormone esterase in cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni) hemolymph. The most potent inhibitor of rat liver carboxylesterase activity was 1,1,1-trifluoro-3-(decane-1-sulfonyl)-propan-2,2-diol, which inhibited 50% of the enzyme activity (IC50) at 6.3 ± 1.3 nM and was 18-fold more potent than its thioether analogue. However, the sulfone derivatives were consistently poorer inhibitors of porcine carboxylesterase activity and juvenile hormone esterase activity, with IC50 values ranging from low micromolar to millimolar. The compound 1,1,1-trifluoro-3-(octane-1-sulfonyl)-propan-2,2-diol was shown to have a 10-fold greater water solubility than its thioether analogue, 1,1,1-trifluoro-3-octylsulfanyl-propan-2-one (OTFP). These novel compounds provide further evidence of the differences between esterase orthologs, suggesting that additional development of esterase inhibitors may ultimately provide a battery of ortholog and/or isoform selective inhibitors analogous to those available for other complex enzyme families with overlapping substrate specificity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1563-1572
Number of pages10
JournalChemical Research in Toxicology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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