Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Richard Glennon


des-Formylflustrabromine (dFBr), isolated from the marine organism Flustra foliacea, is the first selective, positive allosteric modulator (PAM) of α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors that potentiates the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh). Most agonists for this receptor population are not selective and can activate other nACh receptors. A selective PAM, which activates α4β2 nACh receptors only in the presence of ACh, might find application in the treatment of of various neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or autism. dFBr was examined and found to produce a biphasic dose-response curve over a wide concentration range (i.e., potentiation at low concentration, but inhibition of the ACh-induced response at high concentrations). Our goal was to examine various structural features of dFBr required for potentiation; a secondary goal was to examine the same for inhibition. To understand the structural requirements of dFBr, a systematic ‘deconstruction reconstruction and elaboration’ approach (see p. 48) was employed to determine the contribution of various structural components of dFBr to its activity at α4β2 nACh receptors. Novel compounds were synthesized and characterized. Human α4β2 nACh receptors were expressed in Xenopus oocytes and the actions of dFBr and its analogs were measured using a two-electrode voltage clamp technique. Dose-response curves were obtained for the compounds in the absence and presence of 100 μM ACh. Structural features of dFBr optimal and/or required for PAM action at 42 nACh receptors were identified. A novel reconstructed analog with all the essential features for PAM action was synthesized and submitted for biological testing. Elaborated analogs of dFBr further helped in identification of various structural features important for PAM action and the inhibition of action of ACh. The ‘deconstruction reconstruction and elaboration’ approach (see p.48) identified important structural features of dFBr that modify its actions as a PAM or an antagonist (NAM? or channel blocker?) at α4β2 nACh receptors. This information should be useful for the subsequent design of novel analogs to evaluate their potential for the treatment of neurological disorders associated with ACh.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

February 2013