• antimigratory agents;
  • breast cancer;
  • PTK6;
  • sipholenol A;
  • structure–activity relationships


Sipholenol A, a sipholane triterpene isolated from the Red Sea sponge Callyspongia siphonella, has the ability to reverse multidrug resistance in cancer cells that overexpress P-glycoprotein (P-gp). Here, the antimigratory activity of sipholenol A and analogues are reported against the highly metastatic human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 in a wound-healing assay. Sipholenol A and sipholenone A were semisynthetically optimized using ligand-based strategies to generate structurally diverse analogues in an attempt to maximize their antimigratory activity. A total of 22 semisynthetic ester, ether, oxime, and carbamate analogues were generated and identified by extensive one- and two-dimensional NMR spectroscopy and high-resolution mass spectrometry analyses. Sipholenol A 4β-4-chlorobenzoate and 19,20-anhydrosipholenol A 4β-4-chlorobenzoate esters were the most potent of all tested analogues in the wound-healing assay, with IC50 values of 5.3 and 5.9 μM, respectively. Generally, ester derivatives showed better antimigratory activities than the carbamate analogues. A KINOMEscan of 19,20-anhydrosipholenol A 4β-benzoate ester against 451 human protein kinases identified protein tyrosine kinase 6 (PTK6) as a potential target. In breast tumor cells, PTK6 promotes growth factor signaling and migration, and as such the semisynthetic sipholanes were evaluated for their ability to inhibit PTK6 phosphorylation in vitro. The two analogues with the highest antimigratory activities, sipholenol A 4β-4-chlorobenzoate and 19,20-anhydrosipholenol A 4β-4-chlorobenzoate esters, also exhibited the most potent inhibition of PTK6 phosphorylation inhibition. None of the compounds exhibited cytotoxicity in a normal epithelial breast cell line. These derivatives were evaluated in an in vitro invasion assay, where sipholenol A succinate potently inhibited MDA-MB-231 cell invasion at 10 μM. These results highlight sipholane triterpenoids as novel antimigratory marine natural products with potential for further development as agents for the control of metastatic breast malignancies.