By inhibiting only two or three of 12 restriction enzymes, the series of [M(phen)(edda)] complexes [M(II) is Cu, Co, Zn; phen is 1,10-phenanthroline; edda is N,N'-ethylenediaminediacetate] exhibit DNA binding specificity. The Cu(II) and Zn(II) complexes could differentiate the palindromic sequences 5'-CATATG-3' and 5'-GTATAC-3', whereas the Co(II) analogue could not. This and other differences in their biological properties may arise from distinct differences in their octahedral structures. The complexes could inhibit topoisomerase I, stabilize or destabilize G-quadruplex, and lower the mitochondrial membrane potential of MCF7 breast cells. The pronounced stabilization of G-quadruplex by the Zn(II) complex may account for the additional ability of only the Zn(II) complex to induce cell cycle arrest in S phase. On the basis of the known action of anticancer compounds against the above-mentioned individual targets, we suggest the mode of action of the present complexes could involve multiple targets. Cytotoxicity studies with MCF10A and cisplatin-resistant MCF7 suggest that these complexes exhibit selectivity towards breast cancer cells over normal ones.
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