In vitro cytotoxicity of GC sequence directed alkylating agents related to distamycin

Moses Lee, Andrea L. Rhodes, Michael D. Wyatt, Maurizio D'Incalci, Stephen Forrow, John A. Hartley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Imidazole containing analogues 7, 10, and 17 of distamycin wherein the C-terminus contain a dimethylamino moiety have been shown to selectively bind to the minor groove of GC-rich sequences. Accordingly, these agents were employed as vectors for the delivery of a variety of alkylating agents to GC-rich sequences. The alkylating agents are attached to the N-terminus of these vectors thus providing the benzoyl N-mustards (8, 15, and 18 that contain one, two, and three imidazole units, respectively) and substituted acetamides 11-14. Results from the ethidium displacement assay for the formamides 7, 10, and 17 and mustards 15 and 18 showed that these agents bind to calf thymus DNA, poly(dA.dT), poly(dG.dC), and also to coliphage T4 DNA, thus confirming their binding in the minor groove. The reduced binding constants of these compounds for poly(dA.dT) while still binding as strongly, or more strongly, to poly(dG.dC) than distamycin provided evidence for their acceptance of GC sequences. Selectivity for GC-rich sequences was also indicated by CD titration studies. Titration of 10, 15, 17, and 18 to poly(dA.dT) produced weak drug-induced CD bands at ∼330 nm; however, interaction of these agents to poly(dG.dC) in equimolar drug concentrations gave strong bands in this region. Results from dialysis and cross-link gel experiments provided evidence of alkylation and cross-linking of DNA by the mustards which could explain their enhanced cytotoxicity over the formamido analogues. The bifunctional N-mustard-containing analogues 15 and 18 are significantly more cytotoxic than the monoalkylating acetamides 11-14. The mustards also exhibited significant activity against cell lines derived from solid tumors such as melanomas, ovarian cancers, CNS cancers, and small cell lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)863-870
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'In vitro cytotoxicity of GC sequence directed alkylating agents related to distamycin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this