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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

DNA minor groove targeted alkylating agents based on bisbenzimidazole carriers: synthesis, cytotoxicity and sequence-specificity of DNA alkylation.

A series of bisbenzimidazoles bearing a variety of alkylating agents [ortho- and meta-mustards, imidazolebis(hydroxymethyl), imidazolebis(methylcarbamate) and pyrrolebis(hydroxymethyl)], appended by a propyl linker chain, were prepared and investigated for sequence-specificity of DNA alkylation and their cytotoxicity. Previous work has shown that, for para-aniline mustards, a propyl linker is optimal for cytotoxicity. Alkaline cleavage assays using a variety of different labelled oligonucleotides showed that the preferred sequences for adenine alkylation were 5'-TTTANANAANN and 5'-ATTANANAANN (underlined bases show the drug alkylation sites), with AT-rich sequences required on both the 5' and 3' sides of the alkylated adenine. The different aniline mustards showed little variation in alkylation pattern and similar efficiencies of DNA cross-link formation despite the changes in orientation and positioning of the mustard, suggesting that the propyl linker has some flexibility. The imidazole- and pyrrolebis(hydroxymethyl) alkylators showed no DNA strand cleavage following base treatment, indicating that no guanine or adenine N3 or N7 adducts were formed. Using the PCR-based polymerase stop assay, these alkylators showed PCR blocks at 5'-C*G sites (the * nucleotide indicates the blocked site), particularly at 5'-TAC*GA 5'-AGC*GGA, and 5'-AGCC*GGT sequences, caused by guanine 2-NH2 lesions on the opposite strand. Only the (more reactive) imidazolebis(methylcarbamoyl) and pyrrolebis(hydroxymethyl) alkylators demonstrated interstrand cross-linking ability. All of the bifunctional mustards showed large (approximately 100-fold) increases in cytotoxicity over chlorambucil, with the corresponding monofunctional mustards being 20- to 60-fold less cytotoxic. These results suggest that in the mustards the propyl linker provides sufficient flexibility to achieve delivery of the alkylator to favoured (adenine N3) sites in the minor groove, regardless of its exact geometry with respect to the bisbenzimidazole carrier. The 'targeted' bisbenzimidazole bis(hydroxymethyl)pyrrole- and imidazole analogues showed very similar patterns of alkylation to the corresponding 'untargeted' compounds, with little evidence of additional selectivity imposed by this AT-preferring carrier.[1]


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