Chem. Sci. 11 (38) 10529-10537 [2020-09-16; online 2020-09-16]
The recognition of G-quadruplex (G4) DNA structures as important regulatory elements in biological mechanisms, and the connection between G4s and the evolvement of different diseases, has sparked interest in developing small organic molecules targeting G4s. However, such compounds often lack drug-like properties and selectivity. Here, we describe the design and synthesis of a novel class of macrocyclic bis-indole quinolines based on their non-macrocyclic lead compounds. The effects of the macrocyclization on the ability to interact with G4 DNA structures were investigated using biophysical assays and molecular dynamic simulations. Overall, this revealed compounds with potent abilities to interact with and stabilize G4 structures and a clear selectivity for both G4 DNA over dsDNA and for parallel/hybrid G4 topologies, which could be attributed to the macrocyclic structure. Moreover, we obtained knowledge about the structure-activity relationship of importance for the macrocyclic design and how structural modifications could be made to construct improved macrocyclic compounds. Thus, the macrocyclization of G4 ligands can serve as a basis for the optimization of research tools to study G4 biology and potential therapeutics targeting G4-related diseases.