Synthesis and DNA threading properties of quaternary ammonium Ru(phen)(2)(dppz) (2+) derivatives
Journal article, 2009

Ruthenium complexes with one dipyrido[3,2-a:2'-3'-c]phenazine (dppz) ligand, e.g. [Ru(phen)(2)(dppz)](2+) (phen = phenanthroline), shows strong binding to double helical DNA and are well-known DNA "light-switch" molecules. We have here investigated four new [Ru(phen)(2)(dppz)](2+) derivatives with different bulky quaternary ammonium substituents on the dppz ligand to find relationships between molecular structure and intercalation kinetics, which is considered to be of importance for antitumor applicability. Linear dichroism spectroscopy shows that the enantiomers of the new complexes exhibit very similar binding geometries (intercalation of dppz moiety between adjacent DNA base pairs) as the enantiomers of the parent [Ru(phen)(2)(dppz)](2+) complex. Absorption spectra and luminescence properties provide further evidence for a final intercalative binding mode which has to be reached by threading of a bulky moiety between the strands of the DNA. Delta-enantiomers of all the new complexes show much slower association and dissociation kinetics than that of a reference complex without a cationic substituent. Kinetics were not very different whether the bulky quaternary group was derived from hexamethylene tetramine or 1,4-diazabicyclo-(2,2,2)octane (DABCO) or whether it had one or two positive charges. However, a complex in which the hexamethylene tetramine substituent is attached via a phenyl group showed a lowered association rate, in addition to an improved quantum yield of luminescence. A second positive charge on the DABCO substituent resulted in a much slower dissociation rate, suggesting that the distance from the Ru-centre and the amount of charge are both important for threading intercalation kinetics.



DNA threading intercalation



linear dichroism




ruthenium complexes




Minna Li

Chalmers, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Physical Chemistry

Per Lincoln

Chalmers, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Physical Chemistry

Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry

0162-0134 (ISSN)

Vol. 103 7 963-970

Subject Categories

Physical Chemistry

Chemical Sciences



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