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The use of molecular dynamics simulations to evaluate the DNA sequence-selectivity of G-A cross-linking PBD-duocarmycin dimers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalBioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters
Early online date12 Oct 2016
Accepted/In press9 Oct 2016
E-pub ahead of print12 Oct 2016


King's Authors


The pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD) and duocarmycin families are DNA-interactive agents that covalently bond to guanine (G) and adenine (A) bases, respectively, and that have been joined together to create synthetic dimers capable of cross-linking G-G, A-A, and G-A bases. Three G-A alkylating dimers have been published to date, with defined DNA-binding sites proposed for two of them. In this study we have used molecular dynamics simulations to elucidate preferred DNA-binding sites for the three published molecular types. For the PBD-CPI dimer UTA-6026 (1), our simulations correctly predicted its favoured binding site (i.e., 5’-C(G)AATTA-3’) as identified by DNA cleavage studies. However, for the PBD-CI molecule (“Compound 11”, 3), we were unable to reconcile the results of our simulations with the reported preferred cross-linking sequence (5’-ATTTTCC(G)-3’). We found that the molecule is too short to span the five base pairs between the A and G bases as claimed, but should target instead a sequence such as 5’-ATTTC(G)-3’ with two less base pairs between the reacting G and A residues. Our simulation results for this hybrid dimer are also in accord with the very low interstrand cross-linking and in vitro cytotoxicity activity reported for Compound 11. Although a preferred cross-linking sequence was not reported for the third hybrid dimer (“27eS”, 2), our simulations predict that it should span three base pairs between covalently reacting G and A bases (i.e., 5’-GTAT(A)-3’.

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