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Org Biomol Chem. 2015 May 28;13(20):5804-16. doi: 10.1039/c4ob02384f.

Tri- and tetra-substituted cyclen based lanthanide(III) ion complexes as ribonuclease mimics: a study into the effect of log Ka, hydration and hydrophobicity on phosphodiester hydrolysis of the RNA-model 2-hydroxypropyl-4-nitrophenyl phosphate (HPNP).

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School of Chemistry and Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, University of Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland.


A series of tetra-substituted 'pseudo' dipeptide ligands of cyclen (1,4,7,10,-tetraazacyclododecane) and a tri-substituted 3'-pyridine ligand of cyclen, and the corresponding lanthanide(III) complexes were synthesised and characterised as metallo-ribonuclease mimics. All complexes were shown to promote hydrolysis of the phosphodiester bond of 2-hydroxypropyl-4-nitrophenyl phosphate (HPNP, τ1/2 = 5.87 × 10(3) h), a well known RNA mimic. The La(III) and Eu(III) tri-substituted 3'-pyridine lanthanide(III) complexes being the most efficient in promoting such hydrolysis at pH 7.4 and at 37 °C; with τ1/2 = 1.67 h for La(III) and 1.74 h for Eu(III). The series was developed to provide the opportunity to investigate the consequences of altering the lanthanide(III) ion, coordination ability and hydrophobicity of a metallo-cavity on the rate of hydrolysis using the model phosphodiester, HPNP, at 37 °C. To further provide information on the role that the log Ka of the metal bound water plays in phosphodiester hydrolysis the protonation constants and the metal ion stability constants of both a tri and tetra-substituted 3'pyridine complex were determined. Our results highlighted several key features for the design of lanthanide(III) ribonucelase mimics; the presence of two metal bound water molecules are vital for pH dependent rate constants for Eu(III) complexes, optimal pH activity approximating physiological pH (∼7.4) may be achieved if the log Ka values for both MLOH and ML(OH)2 species occur in this region, small changes to hydrophobicity within the metallo cavity influence the rate of hydrolysis greatly and an amide adjacent to the metal ion capable of forming hydrogen bonds with the substrate is required for achieving fast hydrolysis.

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