Anticancer gold(iii)-bisphosphine complex alters the mitochondrial electron transport chain to induce in vivo tumor inhibition†
Expanding the chemical diversity of metal complexes provides a robust platform to generate functional bioactive reagents. To access an excellent repository of metal-based compounds for probe/drug discovery, we capitalized on the rich chemistry of gold to create organometallic gold(III) compounds by ligand tuning. We obtained novel organogold(III) compounds bearing a 1,2-bis(diphenylphosphino)benzene ligand, providing structural diversity with optimal physiological stability. Biological evaluation of the lead compound AuPhos-89 demonstrates mitochondrial complex I-mediated alteration of the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) to drive respiration and diminish cellular energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Mechanism-of-action efforts, RNA-Seq, quantitative proteomics, and NCI-60 screening reveal a highly potent anticancer agent that modulates mitochondrial ETC. AuPhos-89 inhibits the tumor growth of metastatic triple negative breast cancer and represents a new strategy to study the modulation of mitochondrial respiration for the treatment of aggressive cancer and other disease states where mitochondria play a pivotal role in the pathobiology.