α-Aminoalkylphosphonate diaryl esters are potent, irreversible, and highly selective site-directed inhibitors of serine proteases.
The structure of the phosphonate group resembles the transition state observed during a peptide bond hydrolysis and therefore phosphonates
are referred as transition state analogues. They react with the hydroxyl group of the active site serine residue leading to formation of
a stable enzyme-inhibitor complex. Moreover, incorporation of a peptidyl chain at the N-terminus as well as an introduction of electron
withdrawing or electron donating substituents within the ester ring structure allows for a generation of specific inhibitors that react only
with target serine protease. The great advantage of the aminophosphonate diaryl esters over other classes of inhibitors is their stability in
aqueous solutions, no toxicity and lack of reactivity with cysteine, threonine, aspartyl and metalloproteinases. The above resulted in their
application as convenient tools to study proteases function and activity using in vivo and in vitro assays of different pathological disorders
(diabetes, cancer metastasis, pulmonary diseases or hypertension); to determine the cellular localization of the proteinases (activity based
probes), to be used in proteomic approach or as the reactive antigens to develop a catalytic function within the antibodies binding site.
Herein we present the development of α-aminoalkylphosphonate diaryl esters as inhibitors of several serine proteases including dipeptidyl
peptidase IV, cathepsin G, human neutrophil elastase, mast cell chymase and urokinase-type plasminogen activator. We have provided
a historical perspective as well as a comprehensive report of the most recent studies in this field.