Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Mark L. McLaughlin, Ph.D.


Bcl-2, Mdm-2, Apoptosis, Alpha-helix, PNA


The most common secondary structure of proteins is the alpha-helix. The alpha-helix can be involved in various protein-protein interactions (PPIs) through the recognition of three or more side chains along one face of the alpha-helix (Wells and McClendon, 2007). In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in the development of peptidic and non-peptidic compounds that bind to PPI surfaces. We focused on the design and synthesis of compounds that mimic the orientation of side chain residues of an alpha-helical protein domain. Although our scaffolds could potentially inhibit various PPIs, we focused mainly on the disruption of interactions among the Bcl-2-family of proteins and the Mdm-2-family of proteins to favor apoptosis in cancer cells. A summary of Bcl-2 and Mdm-2 structure and function relationships that focuses on the possibility of using peptidic and non-peptidic alpha-helical mimics as PPI inhibitors is described in Chapter One.

Chapter Two discusses the design and synthesis of 3-substituted-2,6- and 2,5-piperazinedione oligomers as more hydrophilic scaffolds compared to previously reported alpha-helical mimetics (Yin, et al., 2005). A key feature of this design is the linkage of the units by a hydrazine bond. While we were able to prepare several monomers containing the hydrazine linkage, synthesis of the dimers and trimers is very challenging. Due to the difficulty of synthesizing oligomeric piperazine-diones in practical yields, we next focused on the design and synthesis of novel 2,5-terpyrimidinylene scaffolds as an alternative to obtain alpha-helical mimetics; this is discussed in Chapter Three. The main outcome of this project was the efficient preparation of a "first-generation" non-peptidic compound library via a facile iterative synthesis enabled by the key conversion of 5-cyanopyrimidine to 5-carboxamidine.

Chapter Three also discusses our progress towards the synthesis of structurally similar substituted-2,5-terpyrimidinylenes, but with more drug-like properties as determined by QikProp calculations. Chapter Four describes an independent study on the synthesis of a guanidine derivative as an alkylating agent for the synthesis of cysteine peptide nucleic acids, CPNA, which is another current project in our lab.