DNA-damaging activity and mutagenicity of 16 newly synthesized thiazolo[5,4-a]acridine derivatives with high photo-inducible cytotoxicity

Mutat Res. 2008 Feb 29;650(2):104-14. doi: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2007.10.022. Epub 2007 Nov 19.


The discovery of the potent anticancer properties of natural alkaloids in the pyrido-thiazolo-acridine series has suggested that thiazolo-acridine derivatives could be of great interest. In a continuous attempt to develop DNA-binding molecules and DNA photo-cleavers, 16 new thiazolo[5,4-a]acridines were synthesized and studied for their photo-inducible DNA-intercalative, cytotoxic and mutagenic activities, by use of the DNA methyl-green bioassay, the Alamar Blue viability assay and the Salmonella mutagenicity test using strains TA97a and TA98 with and without metabolic activation and photo-activation. Without photo-activation, one compound showed a DNA-intercalative activity in the DNA major groove while three compounds displayed intercalating properties after photo-activation. In the dark, four molecules possessed cytotoxic activities against a THP1 acute monocytic leukemia cell line while 15 derivatives displayed photo-inducible cytotoxic activity against this cell line. All compounds were mutagenic in strain TA97a with metabolic activation (+S9mix) and 15 molecules were mutagenic in strain TA98 without activation (-S9mix). Study of the quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR) from the Salmonella mutagenicity data revealed that several descriptors could describe cytotoxic and mutagenic activities after photo-activation. From the results of the mutagenicity test, four compounds with elevated mutagenic activities were selected for additional experiments. Their capacities to induce single-strand breaks (SSB) and chromosome-damaging effects were monitored by the comet and the micronucleus assays in normal human keratinocytes. Comparison of the minimal genotoxic concentrations showed that two compounds possessed higher capacities to induce SSB after photo-activation. In the micronucleus assay, three molecules were able to induce high numbers of micronuclei following photo-activation. Overall, the results of this study confirm that acridines are predominantly genotoxic via a DNA-intercalating mechanism in the dark, while DNA-adducts were probably induced following photo-activation.

MeSH terms

  • Acridines / toxicity*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA Damage*
  • Humans
  • Intercalating Agents / toxicity
  • Light*
  • Mutagenicity Tests
  • Mutagens / toxicity*
  • Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Thiazoles / toxicity*


  • Acridines
  • Intercalating Agents
  • Mutagens
  • Thiazoles