Minor groove binders as anti-infective agents

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Abstract

Minor groove binders are small molecules that form strong complexes with the minor groove of DNA. There are several structural types of which distamycin and netropsin analogues, oligoamides built from heterocyclic and aromatic amino acids, and bis-amidines separated by aromatic and heterocyclic rings are of particular pharmaceutical interest. These molecules have helical topology that approximately matches the curvature of DNA in the minor groove. Depending upon the precise structure of the minor groove binder, selectivity can be obtained with respect to the DNA base sequence to which the compound binds. Minor groove binders have found substantial applications in anti-cancer therapy but their significance in anti-infective therapy has also been significant and is growing. For example, compounds of the bis-amidine class have been notable contributors to antiparasitic therapy for many years with examples such as berenil and pentamidine being well-known. A recent growth area has been inreased sophistication in the oligoamide class. High sequence selectivity is now possible and compounds with distinct antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiparasitic activity have all been identified. Importantly, the structures of the most active compounds attacking the various infective organisms differ significantly but not necessarily predictively. This poses interesting questions of mechanism of action with many different targets involved in DNA processing being candidates. Access of compounds to specific cell types also plays a role and in some cases, can be decisive. Prospects for a range of selective therapeutic agents from this class of compounds are higher now than for some considerable time.

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