M Kaliszczak, D Antonow, KI Patel, P Howard, DI Jodrell, DE Thurston, SM Guichard
Pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD) derivatives are highly potent sequence-specific DNA cross-linking agents. The present study aimed to identify key physicochemical properties influencing the interaction of a series of PBDs (four dimers and 12 monomers) with the three major human ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters (P-gp, ABCG2, and MRP1). Isogenic cell lines expressing P-gp and ABCG2, cell lines with acquired resistance to cytotoxic agents due to the high expression of ABC transporters, and specific inhibitors against P-gp, ABCG2, and MRP1 were used. P-gp and ABCG2 decreased the permeability of the PBD dimers across cell membranes and their interaction with DNA, reducing DNA damage and the overall cytotoxic effect. PBD monomer SG-2823 formed a conjugate with glutathione and interacted with MRP1, reducing its cytotoxic effect in A549 cells. Structure-activity relationship revealed that the interaction of PBDs with the transporters could be predicted considering the molecular weight, the lipophilicity, the number of (N + O) atoms and aromatic rings, the polar surface area, the hydrogen bonding energy, and electrophilic centers. A rational design of novel PBDs with increased potency and reduced interaction with the ABC transporters is proposed.