[en] DNA ; FRET ; G-quadruplexes ; mass spectrometry ; transition metals
[en] Fifteen complexes of palladium, platinum, and copper, featuring five different N-donor tridentate (terpyridine-like) ligands, were prepared with the aim of testing their G-quadruplexDNA binding properties. The fluorescence resonance energy transfer melting assay indicated a striking positive effect of palladium on G-quadruplex DNA stabilization compared with platinum and copper, as well as an influence of the structure of the organic ligand. Putative binding modes (noncoordinative p stacking and base coordination) of palladium and platinum complexes were investigated by ESI-MS and UV/Vis spectroscopy experiments, which all revealed a greater ability of palladium complexes to coordinate DNA bases. In contrast, platinum compounds tend to predominantly bind to quadruplex DNA in their aqua form by noncoordinative interactions. Remarkably, complexes of [Pd(ttpy)] and [Pd(tMebip)] (ttpy=tolylterpyridine, tMebip=2,2'-(4-p-tolylpyridine-2,6-diyl)bis(1-methyl-1H-benzo[d]imidazole)) coordinate efficiently G-quadruplex structures at room temperature in less than 1 h, and are more efficient than their platinum counterparts for inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. Altogether, these results demonstrate that both the affinity for G-quadruplex DNA and the binding mode of metal complexes can be modulated by modifying either the metal or the organic ligand.