Linker length modulates DNA cross-linking reactivity and cytotoxic potency of C8/C8' ether-linked C2-exo-unsaturated pyrrolo[2,1-c][1,4]benzodiazepine (PBD) dimers

Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
Stephen J GregsonD E Thurston


A C2/C2'-exo-unsaturated pyrrolo[2,1-c][1,4]benzodiazepine (PBD) dimer 4b (DRG-16) with a C8-O(CH2)nO-C8' diether linkage (n = 5) has been synthesized that shows markedly superior in vitro cytotoxic potency (e.g., >3400-fold in IGROV1 ovarian cells) and interstrand DNA cross-linking reactivity (>10-fold) compared to the shorter homologue 4a (SJG-136; n = 3). In contrast, for the C-ring unsubstituted series, the corresponding n = 5 dimer (3c) is generally less cytotoxic and has a lower interstrand cross-linking reactivity compared to its shorter n = 3 homologue (3a). Dimer 4b cross-links DNA with >10-fold efficiency compared to 4a, and also inhibits the activity of the restriction endonuclease BamH1 more efficiently than either 3a or 4a. The C2-exo-unsaturated PBD dimers 4a,b are not only more effective than their C-ring saturated counterparts in terms of induced DeltaTm shift, but they also exert this effect more rapidly. Thus, while 3a and 3c exert 68 and 35% of their maximum effect immediately upon interaction with DNA, this level increases to 76 and 97% for 4a and 4b, respectively. Molecular modeling shows a rank order of 4b (n = 5) > 4a (n = 3) > 3a (n = 3) > 3c (n = 5) in terms of binding energy toward duplexes containing ...Continue Reading


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