Development and bioorthogonal activation of palladium-labile prodrugs of gemcitabine

Jason T Weiss, John C Dawson, Craig Fraser, Witold Rybski, Carmen Torres-Sánchez, Mark Bradley, E Elizabeth Patton, Neil O Carragher, Asier Unciti-Broceta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Bioorthogonal chemistry has become one of the main driving forces in current chemical biology, inspiring the search for novel biocompatible chemospecific reactions for the past decade. Alongside the well-established labeling strategies that originated the bioorthogonal paradigm, we have recently proposed the use of heterogeneous palladium chemistry and bioorthogonal Pd(0)-labile prodrugs to develop spatially targeted therapies. Herein, we report the generation of biologically inert precursors of cytotoxic gemcitabine by introducing Pd(0)-cleavable groups in positions that are mechanistically relevant for gemcitabine's pharmacological activity. Cell viability studies in pancreatic cancer cells showed that carbamate functionalization of the 4-amino group of gemcitabine significantly reduced (>23-fold) the prodrugs' cytotoxicity. The N-propargyloxycarbonyl (N-Poc) promoiety displayed the highest sensitivity to heterogeneous palladium catalysis under biocompatible conditions, with a reaction half-life of less than 6 h. Zebrafish studies with allyl, propargyl, and benzyl carbamate-protected rhodamines confirmed N-Poc as the most suitable masking group for implementing in vivo bioorthogonal organometallic chemistry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5395-404
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number12
Early online date27 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2014


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