Tetra-substituted naphthalene diimide (ND) derivatives with positively charged termini are potent stabilizers of human telomeric and gene promoter DNA quadruplexes and inhibit the growth of human cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. The present study reports the enhancement of the pharmacological properties of earlier ND compounds using structure-based design. Crystal structures of three complexes with human telomeric intramolecular quadruplexes demonstrate that two of the four strongly basic N-methyl-piperazine groups can be replaced by less basic morpholine groups with no loss of intermolecular interactions in the grooves of the quadruplex. The new compounds retain high affinity to human telomeric quadruplex DNA but are 10-fold more potent against the MIA PaCa-2 pancreatic cancer cell line, with IC50 values of ~10 nM. The lead compound induces cellular senescence but does not inhibit telomerase activity at the nanomolar dosage levels required for inhibition of cellular proliferation. Gene array qPCR analysis of MIA PaCa-2 cells treated with the lead compound revealed significant dose-dependent modulation of a distinct subset of genes, including strong induction of DNA damage responsive genes CDKN1A, DDIT3, GADD45A/G, and PPM1D, and repression of genes involved in telomere maintenance, including hPOT1 and PARP1.
The integrity of telomeres in most cancer cells is maintained by the action of the telomerase enzyme complex, which catalyzes the synthesis of telomeric DNA repeats in order to replace those lost during replication. Telomerase is especially up-regulated in metastatic cancer and is thus emerging as a major therapeutic target. One approach to telomerase inhibition involves the sequestration of the single-stranded 3 ends of telomeric DNA into higher-order quadruplex structures. We have recently shown that tetra-substituted naphthalene diimide compounds are potent quadruplex-stabilizing molecules with telomerase inhibitory activity in cells. We show here that one such compound, BMSG-SH-3, which has been optimized by computer modeling, has significant in vivo antitumor activity against a model for pancreatic cancer, a cancer that is especially resistant to current therapies. A large reduction in telomerase activity in treated tumors was observed and the naphthalene diimide compound was found to be selectively localized in the treated tumors. We find that the expression of the therapeutically important chaperone protein HSP90, a regulator of telomerase is also reduced in vivo by BMSG-SH-3 treatment. The compound is a potent stabilizer of two G-quadruplex sequences found in the promoter region of the HSP90 gene, as well as a G-quadruplex from human telomeric DNA. It is proposed that the simultaneous targeting of these quadruplexes may be an effective anti-tumor strategy.
Comparative X-ray structure studies reveal that C-F bond incorporation into the peripheral pyrrolidine moieties of the G-quadruplex DNA binding ligand BSU6039 leads to a distinct pyrrolidine ring conformation, relative to the non-fluorinated analogue, and with a different binding mode involving reversal of the pyrrolidinium N(+)-H orientation.
G-Quadruplex DNA ligands are promising novel anticancer agents with potentially fewer side effects and greater selectivity than standard anticancer drugs. However, the design of G-quadruplex ligands remains challenging since known chemical features increasing selectivity have often compromised drugability. Three C-11 diamino cryptolepine derivatives, with significant chemical differences between the side chains, low cytotoxicity to mammalian non-tumor cells (Vero cells) and drug-like properties, were selected for anticancer drug screening in the NCI Developmental Therapeutics Program. The three compounds showed good in vitro anticancer profiles with GI(50) averages at sub-micromolar concentrations (0.32-0.78 ?M), cytostatic effects (TGI) at micromolar concentrations (1.3-6.9 ?M) and moderate cytotoxic effects to cancer cells (LC(50)) also at micromolar concentrations (4.7-33 ?M), but only the compound with a linear alkylamine side chain (NSC748393) showed a good score in the in vivo anticancer Hollow Fiber assay. compare analysis of growth inhibition profile of NSC748393 suggested a multi-target mechanism. G-Quadruplex DNA binding affinity and selectivity studies by FRET-melting assays showed that NSC748392 and NSC478393, with aliphatic amine side chains, are good G-quadruplex ligands but not selective, whereas a C-11 aromatic side chain, as in NSC748394, increases selectivity although with decreasing binding affinity. Overall, NSC748393 can be considered a lead molecule for the design of effective but more selective anticancer drugs targeting telomeric G-quadruplexes.
A comprehensive SAR investigation of the C2-position of pyrrolo[2,1-c][1,4]benzodiazepine (PBD) monomer antitumor agents is reported, establishing the molecular requirements for optimal in vitro cytotoxicity and DNA-binding affinity. Both carbocyclic and heterocyclic C2-aryl substituents have been studied ranging from single aryl rings to fused ring systems, and also styryl substituents, establishing across a library of 80 analogues that C2-aryl and styryl substituents significantly enhance both DNA-binding affinity and in vitro cytotoxicity, with a correlation between the two. The optimal C2-grouping for both DNA-binding affinity and cytotoxicity was found to be the C2-quinolinyl moiety which, according to molecular modeling, is due to the overall fit of the molecule in the DNA minor groove, and potential specific contacts with functional groups in the floor and walls of the groove. This analogue (14l) was shown to delay tumor growth in a HCT-116 (bowel) human tumor xenograft model.
Quadruplex RNAs are less well understood than their DNA counterparts, yet of potentially high biological relevance. The interactions of several quadruplex-binding ligands with telomeric RNA quadruplexes are reported and compared with their binding to the analogous DNA quadruplexes.
Guanine-rich DNA sequences with the ability to form quadruplex structures are enriched in the promoter regions of protein-coding genes, particularly those of proto-oncogenes. G-quadruplexes are structurally polymorphic and their folding topologies can depend on the sample conditions. We report here on a structural study using solution state NMR spectroscopy of a second G-quadruplex-forming motif (c-kit2) that has been recently identified in the promoter region of the c-kit oncogene. In the presence of potassium ions, c-kit2 exists as an ensemble of structures that share the same parallel-stranded propeller-type conformations. Subtle differences in structural dynamics have been identified using hydrogen-deuterium exchange experiments by NMR spectroscopy, suggesting the coexistence of at least two structurally similar but dynamically distinct substates, which undergo slow interconversion on the NMR timescale.
We report a novel class of biaryl polyamides highly selective for G-quadruplex DNA, and with significant cytotoxicity in several cancer cell lines; they form planar U-shaped structures that match the surface area dimensions of a terminal G-quartet in quadruplex structures rather than the grooves of duplex DNA.
Most of human gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) are driven by activating mutations in the proto-oncogene KIT, a tyrosine kinase receptor. Clinical treatment with imatinib targets the kinase domain of KIT, but tumor regrowth occurs as a result of the development of resistant mutations in the kinase active site. An alternative small-molecule approach to GIST therapy is described, in which the KIT gene is directly targeted, and thus, kinase resistance may be circumvented. A naphthalene diimide derivative has been used to demonstrate the concept of dual quadruplex targeting. This compound strongly stabilizes both telomeric quadruplex DNA and quadruplex sites in the KIT promoter in vitro. It is shown here that the compound is a potent inducer of growth arrest in a patient-derived GIST cell line at a concentration (approximately 1 microM) that also results in effective inhibition of telomerase activity and almost complete suppression of KIT mRNA and KIT protein expression. Molecular modeling studies with a telomeric quadruplex have been used to rationalize aspects of the experimental quadruplex melting data.
We have explored a series of trisubstituted acridine-peptide conjugates for their ability to recognize and discriminate between DNA quadruplexes derived from the human telomere, and the c-kit and N-ras proto-oncogenes. Quadruplex affinity was measured as the peptide sequences were varied, together with their substitution position on the acridine, and the identity of the C-terminus (acid or amide). Surface plasmon resonance measurements revealed that all compounds bound to the human telomeric quadruplex with sub-micromolar affinity. Docking calculations from molecular modelling studies were used to model the effects of substituent orientation and peptide sequence. Modelling and experiment were in agreement that placement of the peptide over the face of the acridine is detrimental to binding affinity. The highest degrees of selectivity were observed towards the N-ras quadruplex by compounds capable of forming simultaneous contacts with their acridine and peptide moieties. The ligands that bound best displayed quadruplex affinities in the 1-5 nM range and at least 10-fold discrimination between the quadruplexes studied.
G-quadruplexes are higher-order nucleic acid structures that can form in G-rich telomeres and promoter regions of oncogenes. Telomeric quadruplex stabilization by small molecules can lead to telomere uncapping, followed by DNA damage response and senescence, as well as chromosomal fusions leading to deregulation of mitosis, followed by apoptosis and downregulation of oncogene expression. We report here on investigations into the mechanism of action of tetra-substituted naphthalene diimide ligands on the basis of cell biologic data together with a National Cancer Institute COMPARE study. We conclude that four principal mechanisms of action are implicated for these compounds: 1) telomere uncapping with subsequent DNA damage response and senescence; 2) inhibition of transcription/translation of oncogenes; 3) genomic instability through telomeric DNA end fusions, resulting in mitotic catastrophe and apoptosis; and 4) induction of chromosomal instability by telomere aggregate formation.
The HSP90 protein is an important target in cancer. We report here that stable quadruplex DNAs can be formed from a promoter sequence in the HSP90 gene, on the basis of melting, circular and NMR studies, and show that these can be selectively targeted by non-macrocyclic quadruplex-stabilizing phenyl bis-oxazole derivatives. These do not bind significantly to duplex DNA and show low stabilization of the human telomeric quadruplex. These results suggest an approach to targeting HSP90 at the DNA level.
Thirteen compounds with diverse chemical structures have been identified as selective telomeric G-quadruplex-binding ligands through screening the NCI Diversity Set II, the NCI Natural Products Set II and the NCI Mechanistic Diversity Set libraries containing a total of 2307 members against a human telomeric G-quadruplex using a FRET-based DNA melting assay. These compounds show significant selectivity towards a telomeric G-quadruplex compared to duplex DNA, fall within a molecular weight range of 327-533, and are generally consistent with the Lipinski Rule of Five for drug-likeness. Thus they provide new chemical scaffolds for the development of novel classes of G-quadruplex-targeting agents.
The ability of small molecules to target DNA forms the basis of many clinically used antitumour agents. This study examines the effects of novel 9-aminoacridine carboxamides, synthesised by click chemistry based upon the reactions of either 9-(2-azidoethyl)amino or 9-propargylaminoacridine compounds, on various types of DNA tertiary structures. This gave either monomeric or dimeric compounds, the dimeric derivatives being the first unsymmetrical acridine dimers to be described. The compounds were assayed for duplex DNA, quadruplex DNA and four-way junction DNA binding. Their antiproliferative activity in the Human promyelocytic leukaemia cell line, HL60, was also assessed. Although for some of the compounds, notably the acridine 4-carboxamides, activity correlated with DNA binding affinity, for others it did not, with the rigidly linked dimers in particular showing a complicated relationship between 3- and 4-carboxamide structure and biological activity. The monomeric 3-carboxamides were more effective at stabilising G-quadruplex structures and also gave more hits in the four-way junction stabilisation assay. There is clear evidence from the binding of the 3-carboxamides that these compounds destabilise the open X form of the junction at lower concentrations and stabilise the X-stacked at higher concentrations. This might have implications for the biological activity of these compounds against proteins that bind to the Holliday junction (HJ).
We report here the 1.62 Å crystal structure of an intramolecular quadruplex DNA formed from a sequence in the promoter region of the c-kit gene. This is the first reported crystal structure of a promoter quadruplex and the first observation of localized magnesium ions in a quadruplex structure. The structure reveals that potassium and magnesium ions have an unexpected yet significant structural role in stabilizing particular quadruplex loops and grooves that is distinct from but in addition to the role of potassium ions in the ion channel at the centre of all quadruplex structures. The analysis also shows how ions cluster together with structured water molecules to stabilize the quadruplex arrangement. This particular quadruplex has been previously studied by NMR methods, and the present X-ray structure is in accord with the earlier topology assignment. However, as well as the observations of potassium and magnesium ions, the crystal structure has revealed a highly significant difference in the dimensions of the large cleft in the structure, which is a plausible target for small molecules. This difference can be understood by the stabilizing role of structured water networks.
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