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J Med Chem. 1983 Oct;26(10):1523-6.

Synthesis and pH-dependent stability of purine-6-sulfenic acid, a putative reactive metabolite of 6-thiopurine.


Previous studies have shown that 6-thiopurine is metabolically activated by hepatic cytochrome P-450 to an intermediate capable of binding to proteins by a mixed disulfide linkage. The identity of the active metabolite was postulated to be purine-6-sulfenic acid. In the present report, we describe the synthesis of the sulfenic acid derivatives of 6-thiopurine and two structurally similar compounds, 9-methyl-6-thiopurine and 4-mercapto-1H-pyrazolo[3,4-d]-pyrimidine. The unusual pH-dependent stability profiles of these compounds in buffered aqueous media are presented and explained on the basis of a disproportionation mechanism of sulfenic acid decomposition. Studies with radiolabeled purine-6-sulfenic acid demonstrate that this species binds directly to hepatic microsomal protein. These results support the proposed involvement of purine-6-sulfenic acid in the metabolic activation and tissue binding of 6-thiopurine.

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