Tailoring a lead-like compound targeting multiple G-quadruplex structures

Jussara Amato, Chiara Platella, Sara Iachettini, Pasquale Zizza, Domenica Musumeci, Sandro Cosconati, Alessia Pagano, Ettore Novellino, Annamaria Biroccio, Antonio Randazzo, Bruno Pagano, Daniela Montesarchio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A focused library of analogs of a lead-like G-quadruplex (G4) targeting compound (4), sharing a furobenzoxazine naphthoquinone core and differing for the pendant groups on the N-atom of the oxazine ring, has been here analyzed with the aim of developing more potent and selective ligands. These molecules have been tested vs. topologically different G4s by the G4-CPG assay, an affinity chromatography-based method for screening putative G4 ligands. The obtained results showed that all these compounds were able to bind several G4 structures, both telomeric and extra-telomeric, thus behaving as multi-target ligands, and two of them fully discriminated G4 vs. duplex DNA. Biological assays proved that almost all the compounds produced effective DNA damage, showing marked antiproliferative effects on tumor cells in the low μM range. Combined analysis of the G4-CPG binding assays and biological data led us to focus on compound S4-5, proved to be less cytotoxic than the parent compound 4 on normal cells. An in-depth biophysical characterization of the binding of S4-5 to different G4s showed that the here identified ligand has higher affinity for the G4s and higher ability to discriminate G4 vs. duplex DNA than 4. Molecular docking studies, in agreement with the NMR data, suggest that S4-5 interacts with the accessible grooves of the target G4 structures, giving clues for its increased G4 vs. duplex selectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-306
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Affinity chromatography-based screenings
  • Biophysical characterization
  • G-quadruplex ligands
  • In vitro biological assays
  • Molecular docking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry


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