(C^Npz^C)AuIII complexes of acyclic carbene ligands: synthesis and anticancer properties

Morwen Williams, Adam I Green, Julio Fernandez-Cestau, David L Hughes, Maria Anne O'Connell, Mark Searcey, Benoit Bertrand, Manfred Bochmann

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A series of cyclometallated gold(III) complexes supported by pyrazine-based (C^Npz^C)-type pincer ligands were synthesized via two different pathways. Nucleophilic attack on the isocyanide complex [(C^Npz^C)Au(C≡NC6H3Me2-2,6)]SbF6 (2) gave [(C^Npz^C)Au(ACC)]SbF6 complexes with aniline (4·SbF6), adamantylamine (5), glycine ethyl ester (6), alanine methyl ester (7), valine methyl ester (8), phenylglycine methyl ester (9) and methionine methyl ester (10) substituents (ACC = acyclic carbene). The pathway via isocyanide insertion into gold-amide bonds was also investigated; e.g. the reaction of xylyl isocyanide with (C^Npz^C)AuNHPh followed by protonation with HBF4·OEt2 gave the acyclic carbene complex 4·BF4. To the best of our knowledge compounds 6 - 10 represent the first examples of gold(III) acyclic carbene complexes bearing amino acid functions. The compounds provide a versatile platform for the study of anti-proliferative properties of gold(III) complexes. Tests against human adenoma-type lung cancer cells identified 5, 6, 7 and 10 as particularly promising and demonstrate the synthetic flexibility of acyclic carbene complexes and the potential of that class of compounds for anticancer applications. Compared to cisplatin, amino ester-containing ACC complexes showed significantly improved selectivity for MCF-7 breast cancer cells over healthy fibroblasts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13397–13408
Number of pages12
JournalDalton Transactions
Issue number39
Early online date11 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

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