Conjugation of a new series of dithiocarbazate Schiff base Copper(II) complexes with vectors selected to enhance antibacterial activity

Bioconjug Chem. 2014 Dec 17;25(12):2269-84. doi: 10.1021/bc5004907. Epub 2014 Dec 4.


A new series of six Schiff bases derived from S-methyldithiocarbazate (SMDTC) and S-benzyldithiocarbazate (SBDTC) with methyl levulinate (SMML, SBML), levulinic acid (SMLA, SBLA), and 4-carboxybenzaldehyde (SM4CB, SB4CB) were reacted with copper(II), producing complexes of general formula ML2 (M = Cu(II), L = ligand). All compounds were characterized using established physicochemical and spectroscopic methods. Crystal structures were determined for three Schiff bases (SMML, SBML, SBLA) and two Cu(II) complexes (Cu(SMML)2 and Cu(SMLA)2). In order to provide more insight into the behavior of the complexes in solution, electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and electrochemical experiments were performed. The parent ligands and their respective copper(II) complexes exhibited moderate antibacterial activity against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. The most active ligand (SB4CB) and its analogous S-methyl derivative (SM4CB) were conjugated with various vector moieties: polyarginines (R1, R4, R9, and RW9), oligoethylene glycol (OEG), and an efflux pump blocker, phenylalanine-arginine-β-naphthylamide (PAβN). Nonaarginine (R9) derivatives showed the most encouraging synergistic effects upon conjugation and complexation with copper ion including enhanced water solubility, bacteria cell membrane permeability, and bioactivity. These Cu(II)-R9 derivatives display remarkable antibacterial activity against a wide spectrum of bacteria and, in particular, are highly efficacious against Staphylococcus aureus with minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values of 0.5-1 μM. This pioneer study clearly indicates that the conjugation of cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) to dithiocarbazate compounds greatly enhances their therapeutic potential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell-Penetrating Peptides / chemistry
  • Coordination Complexes / chemistry
  • Coordination Complexes / pharmacology
  • Copper / chemistry*
  • Crystallization
  • Electrochemistry / methods
  • Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Hydrazines / chemistry*
  • Ligands
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Organometallic Compounds / chemistry*
  • Solid-Phase Synthesis Techniques
  • Solutions
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Cell-Penetrating Peptides
  • Coordination Complexes
  • Hydrazines
  • Ligands
  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Solutions
  • methyldithiocarbazate
  • Copper