Structure-based drug design of DNA minor groove binders and evaluation of their antibacterial and anticancer properties

Hasan Y. Alniss, Hadeel M. Al-Jubeh, Yousef A. Msallam, Ruqaiyyah Siddiqui, Zinb Makhlouf, Anil Ravi, Rania Hamdy, Sameh S. M. Soliman, Naveed A. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Antimicrobial and chemotherapy resistance are escalating medical problem of paramount importance. Yet, research for novel antimicrobial and anticancer agents remains lagging behind. With their reported medical applications, DNA minor groove binders (MGBs) are worthy of exploration. In this study, the approach of structure-based drug design was implemented to generate 11 MGB compounds including a novel class of bioactive alkyne-linked MGBs. The NCI screening protocol was utilized to evaluate the antitumor activity of the target MGBs. Furthermore, a variety of bactericidal, cytopathogenicity, MIC90, and cytotoxicity assays were carried out using these MGBs against 6 medically relevant bacteria: Salmonella enterica, Escherichia coli, Serratia marcescens, Bacillus cereus, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Streptococcus pyogenes. Moreover, molecular docking, molecular dynamic simulations, DNA melting, and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) analyses were utilized to explore the binding mode and interactions between the most potent MGBs and the DNA duplex d(CGACTAGTCG)2. NCI results showed that alkyne-linked MGBs (26 & 28) displayed the most significant growth inhibition among the NCI-60 panel. In addition, compounds MGB3, MGB4, MGB28, and MGB32 showed significant bactericidal effects, inhibited B. cereus and S. enterica-mediated cytopathogenicity, and exhibited low cytotoxicity. MGB28 and MGB32 demonstrated significant inhibition of S. pyogenes, whereas MGB28 notably inhibited S. marcescens and all four minor groove binders significantly inhibited B. cereus. The ability of these compounds to bind with DNA and distort its groove dimensions provides the molecular basis for the allosteric perturbation of proteins-DNA interactions by MGBs. This study shed light on the mechanism of action of MGBs and revealed the important structural features for their antitumor and antibacterial activities, which are important to guide future development of MGB derivatives as novel antibacterial and anticancer agents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116440
JournalEuropean Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
Early online date24 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2024


  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Chemotherapy resistance
  • DNA denaturation
  • Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC)
  • Minor groove binder
  • Molecular modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology
  • Organic Chemistry


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