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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Family of Rhodium Complexes with Selective Toxicity toward Mismatch Repair-Deficient Cancers.

  • Author(s): Boyle, Kelsey M;
  • Barton, Jacqueline K
  • et al.

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Rhodium metalloinsertors are a unique set of metal complexes that bind specifically to DNA base pair mismatches in vitro and kill mismatch repair (MMR)-deficient cells at lower concentrations than their MMR-proficient counterparts. A family of metalloinsertors containing rhodium-oxygen ligand coordination, termed "Rh-O" metalloinsertors, has been prepared and shown to have a significant increase in both overall potency and selectivity toward MMR-deficient cells regardless of structural changes in the ancillary ligands. Here we describe DNA-binding and cellular studies with the second generation of Rh-O metalloinsertors in which an ancillary ligand is varied in both steric bulk and lipophilicity. These complexes, of the form [Rh(L)(chrysi)(PPO)]2+, all include the O-containing PPO ligand (PPO = 2-(pyridine-2-yl)propan-2-ol) and the aromatic inserting ligand chrysi (5,6-chrysene quinone diimine) but differ in the identity of their ancillary ligand L, where L is a phenanthroline or bipyridyl derivative. The Rh-O metalloinsertors in this family all show micromolar binding affinities for a 29-mer DNA hairpin containing a single CC mismatch. The complexes display comparable lipophilic tendencies and p Ka values of 8.1-9.1 for dissociation of an imine proton on the chrysi ligand. In cellular proliferation and cytotoxicity assays with MMR-deficient cells (HCT116O) and MMR-proficient cells (HCT116N), the complexes containing the phenanthroline-derived ligands show highly selective cytotoxic preference for the MMR-deficient cells at nanomolar concentrations. Using mass spectral analyses, it is shown that the complexes are taken into cells through a passive mechanism and exhibit low accumulation in mitochondria, an off-target organelle that, when targeted by parent metalloinsertors, can lead to nonselective cytotoxicity. Overall, these Rh-O metalloinsertors have distinct and improved behavior compared to previous generations of parent metalloinsertors, making them ideal candidates for further therapeutic assessment.

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