Oxadiazole/Pyridine-Based Ligands: A Structural Tuning for Enhancing G-Quadruplex Binding

October 11, 2018


Oxadiazole/Pyridine-Based Ligands: A Structural Tuning for Enhancing G-Quadruplex Binding


Filippo Doria, Valentina Pirota, Michele Petenzi, Marie-Paule Teulade-Fichou, Daniela Verga, Mauro Freccero






Non-macrocyclic heteroaryls represent a valuable class of ligands for nucleic acid recognition. In this regard, non-macrocyclic pyridyl polyoxazoles and polyoxadiazoles were recently identified as selective G-quadruplex stabilizing compounds with high cytotoxicity and promising anticancer activity. Herein, we describe the synthesis of a new family of heteroaryls containing oxadiazole and pyridine moieties targeting DNA G-quadruplexes. To perform a structure–activity analysis identifying determinants of activity and selectivity, we followed a convergent synthetic pathway to modulate the nature and number of the heterocycles (1,3-oxazole vs. 1,2,4-oxadiazole and pyridine vs. benzene). Each ligand was evaluated towards secondary nucleic acid structures, which have been chosen as a prototype to mimic cancer-associated G-quadruplex structures (e.g., the human telomeric sequence, c-myc and c-kit promoters). Interestingly, heptapyridyl-oxadiazole compounds showed preferential binding towards the telomeric sequence (22AG) in competitive conditions vs. duplex DNA. In addition, G4-FID assays suggest a different binding mode from the classical stacking on the external G-quartet. Additionally, CD titrations in the presence of the two most promising compounds for affinity, TOxAzaPy and TOxAzaPhen, display a structural transition of 22AG in K-rich buffer. This investigation suggests that the pyridyl-oxadiazole motif is a promising recognition element for G-quadruplexes, combining seven heteroaryls in a single binding unit.




Circular dichroism, DNA structure, Ligand binding, Chemical stability, Biochemistry