Bizelesin (formerly U77,779, The Upjohn Co.) is a bifunctional DNA cross-linking antitumor antibiotic consisting of two open-ring homologs of the (+)-CC-1065 cyclopropa[c]pyrrolo[3,2-e]indol-4(5H)-one (CPI) subunits connected by a rigid linking moiety. Previous studies have shown that Bizelesin most often forms an interstrand cross-link through the N3 of two adenines 6 base pairs (bp) apart (inclusive of the modified adenines). However, gel electrophoresis studies have also indicated that Bizelesin forms 7-bp cross-links in specific sequences. In most of these sequences the cross-linked adenines represent the only possible cross-link site (i.e., no 6-bp site is available); however, in several sequences, a 7-bp sequence is selected in overwhelming preference to a possible 6-bp sequence. In this study, we demonstrate the unique requirement for a G*C base pair within this sequence and the critical presence of the exocyclic 2-amino group of guanine. In a subsequent two-dimensional 1H-NMR study that concentrates on the 7-bp cross-link formed with the sequence 5'-TTAGTTA-3’, the role of the central G·C base pairs in the formation of a 7-bp cross-link is probed. 1H-NMR analysis coupled with restrained molecular dynamics (rMD) provides evidence for distortion around the covalently modified adenines. Because of this distortion, the modified bases are twisted toward the center of the duplex adduct, effectively reducing the crosslinked distance. The rMD study also indicates that a hydrogen bond is formed between the exocyclic amine of the central guanine and the carbonyl of the ureylene linker. On the basis of the observation of the distortion in the duplex and the hydrogen bonding between the drug and DNA, it is possible to speculate on the role of the central G·C bases in this sequence preference and propose a mechanism by which Bizelesin forms a 7-bp rather than a 6-bp cross-link with this sequence.
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