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The Application of Reversible Intramolecular Sulfonamide Ligation to Modulate Reactivity in Organometallic Ruthenium(II) Diamine Complexes

Kemp, Samuel A; Prior, Timothy J.; Savoie, Huguette; Boyle, Ross W.; Murray, Benjamin S.


Samuel A Kemp

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Dr Tim Prior
Senior Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry

Huguette Savoie

Benjamin S. Murray


Metallation of biomacromolecular species forms the basis for the anticancer activity of many metallodrugs. A major limitation of these compounds is that their reactivity is indiscriminate and can, in principle, occur in healthy tissue as well as cancerous tissue, potentially leading to side effects in vivo. Here we present pH-dependent intramolecular coordination of an arene-tethered sulfonamide functionality in organometallic ruthenium(II) ethylenediamine complexes as a route to controlling the coordination environment about the central metal atom. Through variation of the sulfonamide R group and the length of the tether linking it to the arene ligand the acidity of the sulfonamide NH group, and hence the pH-region over which regulation of metal coordination occurs, can be modulated. Intramolecular sulfonamide ligation controlled the reactivity of complex 4 within the physiologically relevant pH-region, rendering it more reactive towards 5ʹ-GMP in mildly acidic pH-conditions typical of tumour tissue compared to the mildly alkaline pH-conditions typical of healthy tissue. However, the activation of 4 by ring-opening of the chelate was found to be a slow process relative to the timescale of typical cell culture assays and members of this series of complexes were found not to be cytotoxic towards the HT-29 cell line. These complexes provide the basis for the development of analogues of increased potency where intramolecular sulfonamide ligation regulates reactivity and therefore cytotoxicity in a pH-dependent, and potentially, tissue-dependent manner.


Kemp, S. A., Prior, T. J., Savoie, H., Boyle, R. W., & Murray, B. S. (2020). The Application of Reversible Intramolecular Sulfonamide Ligation to Modulate Reactivity in Organometallic Ruthenium(II) Diamine Complexes. Molecules, 25(2), 244.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 20, 2019
Online Publication Date Jan 7, 2020
Publication Date Jan 2, 2020
Deposit Date Jan 7, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jan 9, 2020
Journal Molecules
Electronic ISSN 1420-3049
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 2
Article Number 244
Pages 244
Keywords Metallodrugs; Bioorganometallic chemistry; Ruthenium; Cancer; Sulfonamide
Public URL
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Contract Date Jan 7, 2020


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