Selective in vitro anti-cancer activity of non-alkylating minor groove binders
Traditional cytotoxic agents which act through a DNA-alkylating mechanism are relatively non-specific, resulting in a small therapeutic window and thus limiting their effectiveness. In this study, we evaluate a panel of 24 non-alkylating Strathclyde Minor Groove Binders (S-MGBs), including 14 novel compounds, for in vitro anti-cancer activity against a human colon carcinoma cell line, a cisplatin-sensitive ovarian cancer cell line and a cisplatin-resistant ovarian cancer cell line. A human non-cancerous retinal epithelial cell line was used to measure selectivity of any response. We have identified several S-MGBs with activities comparable to cis-platin and carboplatin, but with better in vitro selectivity indices, particularly S-MGB-4, S-MGB-74 and S-MGB-317. Moreover, a comparison of the cis-platin resistant and cis-platin sensitive ovarian cancer cell lines reveals that our S-MGBs do not show cross resistance with cisplatin or carboplatin and that they likely have a different mechanism of action. Finally, we present an initial investigation into the mechanism of action of one compound from this class, S-MGB-4, demonstrating that neither DNA double strand breaks nor the DNA damage stress sensor protein p53 are induced. This indicates that our S-MGBs are unlikely to act through an alkylating or DNA damage response mechanism.