Mononuclear ruthenium(ii) theranostic complexes that function as broad-spectrum antimicrobials in therapeutically resistant pathogens through interaction with DNA†
Six luminescent, mononuclear ruthenium(II) complexes based on the tetrapyridophenazine (tpphz) and dipyridophenazine (dppz) ligands are reported. The therapeutic activities of the complexes against Gram-negative bacteria (E. coli, A. baumannii, P. aeruginosa) and Gram-positive bacteria (E. faecalis and S. aureus) including pathogenic multi- and pan-drug resistant strains were assessed. Estimated minimum inhibitory and bactericidal concentrations show the activity of the lead compound is comparable to ampicillin and oxacillin in therapeutically sensitive strains and this activity was retained in resistant strains. Unlike related dinuclear analogues the lead compound does not damage bacterial membranes but is still rapidly taken up by both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria in a glucose independent manner. Direct imaging of the complexes through super-resolution nanoscopy and transmission electron microscopy reveals that once internalized the complexes' intracellular target for both Gram-negative and Gram-positive strains is bacterial DNA. Model toxicity screens showed the compound is non-toxic to Galleria mellonella even at exposure concentrations that are orders of magnitude higher than the bacterial MIC.