Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences

First Advisor

Liang Xue

First Committee Member

Andreas Franz

Second Committee Member

Jianhua Ren

Third Committee Member

Georgious Pantouris

Fourth Committee Member

Geoffrey Lin-Cereghino


Targeting DNA has the advantage over proteins for cancer remediation because of the fewer copies of the ligands required for the desired therapeutic effect. Traditionally, covalent DNA binders like alkylating agents have been used to induce genetic instability through the formation of DNA lesions and strand breaks, leading to cellular apoptosis. The primary drawback of this treatment is the non-specific binding that affects both cancerous and non-cancerous cells. G-quadruplexes are the DNA secondary structures that are present in abundance near the promoter regions of the oncogenes and are involved in the regulation of their activities. A ligand-mediated stabilization of G-quadruplexes in the promoter regions and down-regulation of the associated oncogenes have been validated. In contrast to alkylating agents, G-quadruplex ligands induce genetic stabilization through non-covalent interactions. They can be designed to interact specifically with G-quadruplex DNA over duplex DNA, which reduce side effects arising from the off-targeting. G-quadruplex ligands invariably have the large planar aromatic moiety to interact with G-quadruplexes through π- π stacking interactions. For determining the size effect of the aromatic moiety on stabilization of G-quadruplexes, a series of ligands were synthesized by conjugating nucleobases or 1,10-phenanthroline with an aminoglycoside, neomycin. The resulting conjugates increased the binding affinity synergistically and enabled us to study the effect of the stacking moiety required for G-quadruplex stabilization. Nucleobase-neomycin conjugates did not show stabilization stabilize of human telomeric G-quadruplex. 1,10-Phenanthroline-neomycin conjugate (7b) on the other hand binds to human telomeric G-quadruplex with a Ka of (8.92.4)×108 M-1 and inhibits telomerase activity at 1.56 µM probably through G-quadruplex stabilization. Moving forward, we further enlarged the aromatic moiety by tethering two 1,10-phenantholine molecules together through a five-atom linker. The resulting molecule (2-Clip-phen) was conjugated with various amino-containing side chains. 2-Clip-phen derivatives showed at least 30 times weaker binding to duplex DNA over G-quadruplex DNA. In addition, compounds showed a preference for the antiparallel G-quadruplex conformation over parallel and hybrid G-quadruplex conformations, as shown in the CD spectroscopy studies. Ligands 11 and 13 induced the formation of an antiparallel G-quadruplex from random coils and stabilize it to 60 oC (Tm) in a salt-free condition. Mass spectrometry study showed the formation of a two-tetrad G-quadruplex with the 2-Clip-phen ligand. Docking study showed that the ligand interacts most favorably with antiparallel G-quadruplex conformation, which is supported further by the larger thermal stabilization effect on antiparallel G-quadruplex compared with other G-quadruplex conformations. Our study suggests that 2-Clip-phen can be used as a scaffold for designing G-quadruplex binding ligands that preferentially bind to antiparallel G-quadruplexes, which has never been reported before.





Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).