JBIC Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry

, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1165–1183 | Cite as

Efficient copper-based DNA cleavers from carboxylate benzimidazole ligands

  • Víctor A. Barrera-Guzmán
  • Edgar O. Rodríguez-Hernández
  • Naytzé Ortíz-Pastrana
  • Ricardo Domínguez-González
  • Ana B. Caballero
  • Patrick GamezEmail author
  • Norah Barba-BehrensEmail author
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Alison Butler: Papers in Celebration of Her 2018 ACS Alfred Bader Award in Bioorganic or Bioinorganic Chemistry


Four copper(II) coordination compounds from 2-benzimidazole propionic acid (Hbzpr) and 4-(benzimidazol-2-yl)-3-thiobutanoic acid (Hbztb) were synthesized and fully characterized by elemental analyses, electronic spectroscopy, FT-IR and mass spectrometry. The molecular structure for the four complexes was confirmed by single-crystal X-ray crystallography. The DNA-interacting properties of the two trinuclear and two mononuclear compounds were investigated using different spectroscopic techniques including absorption titration experiments, fluorescence spectroscopy and circular dichroism spectroscopy. Trinuclear [Cu3(bzpr)4(H2O)2](NO3)2·3H2O·CH3OH (2) and [Cu3(bzpr)4Cl2]·3H2O (3) bind to DNA through non-intercalative interactions, while for mononuclear [Cu(bzpr)2(H2O)]·2H2O (1) and [Cu(bztb)2]·2H2O (4), at minor concentrations in relation to the DNA, a groove binding interaction is favored, while at higher concentrations an intercalative mode is preferred. The nuclease properties of all complexes were studied by gel electrophoresis, which showed that they were able to cleave supercoiled plasmid DNA (form I) to the nicked form (form II). Compound 4 is even capable of generating linear form III (resulting from double-strand cleavage). The proposed mechanism of action involves an oxidative pathway (Fenton-type reaction), which produces harmful reactive species, like hydroxyl radicals.

Graphical abstract


Copper(II) complexes 2-Carboxylate benzimidazoles ct-DNA pBr322 DNA DNA-cleaving properties 



The financial support from CONACYT, grant CB2012-178851 and DGAPA-UNAM for grant IN224516 is acknowledged. V.A.B.-G. thanks a CONACYT scholarship. P.G. acknowledges the financial support from the Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (projects CTQ2015-70371-REDT and CTQ2017-88446-R AEI/FEDER, UE). We thank P. Fierro for technical support.

Supplementary material

775_2018_1598_MOESM1_ESM.docx (262 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 262 kb)


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Copyright information

© SBIC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Víctor A. Barrera-Guzmán
    • 1
  • Edgar O. Rodríguez-Hernández
    • 1
  • Naytzé Ortíz-Pastrana
    • 2
  • Ricardo Domínguez-González
    • 3
  • Ana B. Caballero
    • 4
    • 5
  • Patrick Gamez
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
    Email author
  • Norah Barba-Behrens
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Departamento de Química Inorgánica, Facultad de QuímicaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad UniversitariaMexico CityMexico
  2. 2.Departamento de QuímicaCinvestavMexico CityMexico
  3. 3.Facultad de QuímicaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad UniversitariaMexico CityMexico
  4. 4.Departament de Química Inorgánica y OrgánicaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (IN2UB)BarcelonaSpain
  6. 6.Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced StudiesBarcelonaSpain

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