Recently, we have shown that harmine induces β-cell proliferation both in vitro and in vivo, mediated via the DYRK1A-NFAT pathway. We explore structure–activity relationships of the 7-position of harmine for both DYRK1A kinase inhibition and β-cell proliferation based on our related previous structure–activity relationship studies of harmine in the context of diabetes and β-cell specific targeting strategies. 33 harmine analogs of the 7-position substituent were synthesized and evaluated for biological activity. Two novel inhibitors were identified which showed DYRK1A inhibition and human β-cell proliferation capability. The DYRK1A inhibitor, compound 1-2b, induced β-cell proliferation half that of harmine at three times higher concentration. From these studies we can draw the inference that 7-position modification is limited for further harmine optimization focused on β-cell proliferation and cell-specific targeting approach for diabetes therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1983
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • DYRK1A inhibitor
  • Diabetes
  • Dual-specificity tyrosine-regulated kinases (DYRKs)
  • Harmine
  • Structure–activity relationship study
  • β-cell proliferation


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