Tomaymycin is an antibiotic belonging to the pyrrolo[1,4]benzodiazepine group of antitumor compounds. Previous studies have shown that tomaymycin and other members of this group, which include anthramycin, sibiromycin, and the neothramycins, bind covalently through N-2 of guanine and lie within the minor groove of DNA. Two fluorescent ground-state species of tomaymycin were observed in protic solvents and on DNA. 1H NMR studies showed that the two fluorescent species in methanol are the 11R,11aS and 11S,11aS diastereomeric 11-methyl ethers of tomaymycin. On the basis of epimerization experiments and exchange of carbon-13 from 13CH3OH into the C-11 methoxy group of the tomaymycin methyl ether, a mechanism is proposed for their interconversion via 10,11-anhydrotomaymycin. Coupling information revealed that the solution conformations of the two diastereomers differ, with the C-5 carbonyl lying closer to the plane of the aromatic ring in the 11R,11aS diastereomer. The fluorescence excitation and emission spectra of the two emitting species in methanol were separated by time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy and were associated with the diastereomeric forms identified by 1H NMR. Time-resolved fluorescence studies of tomaymycin in protic solvents and on DNA indicated that the absorption spectrum of the longer lifetime component (11R,11aS form) is red-shifted relative to the absorption spectrum of the shorter lifetime component (115,11aS form), consistent with more extensive conjugation. The two conformational forms of tomaymycin on DNA were tentatively identified as the 115,11aS and 11R,11aS diastereomeric adducts, which bind in opposite orientations in the minor groove. This proposal is supported by molecular modeling studies using a 6-mer duplex adduct of d(ATGCAT)2.
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