Synthesis and in vitro biochemical evaluation of oxime bond-linked daunorubicin-GnRH-III conjugates developed for targeted drug delivery

Sabine Schuster, Beáta Biri-Kovács, Bálint Szeder, Viktor Farkas, László Buday, Zsuzsanna Szabó, Gábor Halmos, Gábor Mező (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Gonadotropin releasing hormone-III (GnRH-III), a native isoform of the human GnRH isolated from sea lamprey, specifically binds to GnRH receptors on cancer cells enabling its application as targeting moieties for anticancer drugs. Recently, we reported on the identification of a novel daunorubicin-GnRH-III conjugate (GnRH-III-[4Lys(Bu), 8Lys(Dau=Aoa)] with efficient in vitro and in vivo antitumor activity. To get a deeper insight into the mechanism of action of our lead compound, the cellular uptake was followed by confocal laser scanning microscopy. Hereby, the drug daunorubicin could be visualized in different subcellular compartments by following the localization of the drug in a time-dependent manner. Colocalization studies were carried out to prove the presence of the drug in lysosomes (early stage) and on its site of action (nuclei after 10 min). Additional flow cytometry studies demonstrated that the cellular uptake of the bioconjugate was inhibited in the presence of the competitive ligand triptorelin indicating a receptor-mediated pathway. For comparative purpose, six novel daunorubicin-GnRH-III bioconjugates have been synthesized and biochemically characterized in which 6Asp was replaced by D-Asp, D-Glu and D-Trp. In addition to the analysis of the in vitro cytostatic effect and cellular uptake, receptor binding studies with 125I-triptorelin as radiotracer and degradation of the GnRH-III conjugates in the presence of rat liver lysosomal homogenate have been performed. All derivatives showed high binding affinities to GnRH receptors and displayed in vitro cytostatic effects on HT-29 and MCF-7 cancer cells with IC50 values in a low micro-molar range. Moreover, we found that the release of the active drug metabolite and the cellular uptake of the bioconjugates were strongly affected by the amino acid exchange which in turn had an impact on the antitumor activity of the bioconjugates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)756-771
Number of pages16
JournalBeilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2018


  • Cytostatic effect
  • Daunorubicin
  • Drug-targeting
  • GnRH derivatives
  • Oxime linkage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry


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