Ternary dinuclear copper(II) complexes of a hydroxybenzamide ligand with diimine coligands: The 5,6-dmp ligand enhances DNA binding and cleavage and induces apoptosis

Sethu Ramakrishnan, Dhanasekaran Shakthipriya, Eringathodi Suresh, Vaiyapuri Subbarayan Periasamy, Mohammad Abdulkader Akbarsha, Mallayan Palaniandavar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dinuclear copper(II) complexes [Cu2(LH)2(diimine) 2(ClO4)2](ClO4)2 (1-4), where LH = 2-hydroxy-N-[2-(methylamino)ethyl]benzamide and diimine = 2,2′-bipyridine (bpy; 1), 1,10-phenanthroline (phen; 2), 5,6-dimethyl-1,10-phenanthroline (5,6-dmp; 3), and dipyrido[3,2-d:2′, 3′-f]quinoxaline (dpq; 4), have been isolated and characterized. The X-ray crystal structure of complex 1 contains two copper(II) centers bridged by the phenolate moiety of the amide ligand. All of the complexes display a ligand-field band (630-655 nm) and the PhO--to-CuII ligand-to-metal charge-transfer band (405-420 nm) in solution. Absorption and emission spectral studies and viscosity measurements indicate that complex 4 interacts with calf thymus DNA more strongly than all of the other complexes through strong partial intercalation of the extended planar ring (dpq) with a DNA base stack. Interestingly, 3 exhibits a DNA binding affinity higher than 2, suggesting the involvement in hydrophobic interaction of coordinated 5,6-dmp with the DNA surface. In contrast to the increase in relative viscosities of DNA bound to 2-4, a decrease in viscosity of DNA bound to 1 is observed, indicating a shortening of the DNA chain length through formation of kinks or bends. All of the complexes exhibit an ability to cleave DNA (pUC19 DNA) in a 5% DMF/5 mM Tris-HCl/50 mM NaCl buffer at pH 7.1 in the absence of an oxidant at 100 μM complex concentration, which varies as 4 > 2 > 1 > 3. The order of DNA the cleavage ability at 30 μM concentration in the presence ascorbic acid is 4 > 2 > 1 > 3, and, interestingly, 4 alone shows an ability to convert supercoiled DNA into nicked-coiled DNA even at 6 μM concentration, beyond which complete degradation is observed and the pathway of oxidative DNA cleavage involves hydroxyl radicals. In the presence of distamycin, all of the complexes, except 3, show decreased DNA cleavage activity, suggesting that the complexes prefer to bind in the DNA minor groove. All of the complexes exhibit prominent DNA cleavage even at very low concentrations (nM) in the presence of H2O2 as an activator, with the order of cleavage efficiency being 3 > 2 > 4 > 1. Studies on the anticancer activity toward HEp-2 human larynx cell lines reveal that the ability of the complexes to kill the cancer cell lines varies as 3 > 4 > 2 > 1. Also, interestingly, the IC50 value of 3 is lower than that of cisplatin, suggesting that the hydrophobicity of methyl groups on the 5 and 6 positions of the complex enhances the anticancer activity. The mode of cell death effected by the complex has been explored by using various biochemical techniques like comet assay, mitochondrial membrane potency, and Western blotting. The complex has been found to induce nuclear condensation and fragmentation in cell lines. Also, it triggers activation of caspases by releasing cytochrome c from mitochondria to cytosol, suggesting that it induces apoptosis in cells via the mitochondrial pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6458-6471
Number of pages14
JournalInorganic Chemistry
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 18 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Ternary dinuclear copper(II) complexes of a hydroxybenzamide ligand with diimine coligands: The 5,6-dmp ligand enhances DNA binding and cleavage and induces apoptosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this