• antitumor agents;
  • cancer;
  • DNA repair;
  • drug design;
  • inhibitors


The endonucleolytic activity of human apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease (AP endo, Ape1) is a major factor in maintaining the integrity of the genome. Conversely, as an undesired effect, Ape1 overexpression has been linked to resistance to radio- and chemotherapeutic treatments in several human tumors. Inhibition of Ape1 using siRNA or the expression of a dominant negative form of the protein has been shown to sensitize cells to DNA-damaging agents, including various chemotherapeutic agents. Therefore, inhibition of the enzymatic activity of Ape1 might result in a potent antitumor therapy. A number of small molecules have been described as Ape1 inhibitors; however, those compounds are in the early stages of development. Herein we report the identification of new compounds as potential Ape1 inhibitors through a docking-based virtual screening technique. Some of the compounds identified have in vitro activities in the low-to-medium micromolar range. Interaction of these compounds with the Ape1 protein was observed by mass spectrometry. These molecules also potentiate the cytotoxicity of the chemotherapeutic agent methyl methanesulfonate in fibrosarcoma cells. This study demonstrates the power of docking and virtual screening techniques as initial steps in the design of new drugs, and opens the door to the development of a new generation of Ape1 inhibitors.