Sequence specificity of formaldehyde-mediated covalent binding of anthracycline derivatives to DNA

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Daunorubicin (DRB) and doxorubicin (DOX) in the presence of formaldehyde (CH2O) form covalent adducts with DNA. A G-specific adduct is formed by producing an aminal bridge between the C-3′ of daunosamine and the C-2 of guanine. New derivatives of DRB, DOX and epidoxorubicin (EDOX) with an amidine group bonded to the C-3′ of the daunosamine moiety, with either a morpholine or hexamethyleneimine ring attached to the amidine group, were studied in this paper. DNase I footprinting and analyses with restriction endonucleases were applied to compare the specificity of adduct formed by the amidine derivatives and their parent compounds. These approaches provide consistent results, proving that a GC pair is required for covalent binding of anthracycline derivatives to DNA and that different flanking sequences are able to modify the sequence preference of the drugs. The 5′-GC-3′, 5′-CG-3′ and 5′-TC-3′ sequences were protected most efficiently by the parent compounds and their morpholine derivatives and some increased protection of 5′-TC-3′ sequence was observed for morpholine analogues. Hexamethyleneimine derivatives bind to DNA with much lower efficiency. Finally, the sequence specificity of anthracycline derivatives was correlated with their ability to inhibit binding of transcription factors Sp1 and AP-1 to their DNA recognition sequences. The anthracycline derivatives were more potent in inhibiting Sp1 binding to its cognate GC box than in preventing AP-1 from binding to its mixed A·T and G·C site. Overall, the results indicate that the amidine derivatives of anthracyclines show similar, but not identical sequence specificity as parent compounds, though they exert their effect at a higher concentration.

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