Solution structures of purine base analogues 9-deazaguanine and 9-deazahypoxanthine
Deaza analogues of nucleobases are potential drugs against infectious diseases caused by parasites. A caveat is that apart from binding their target parasite enzymes, they also bind and inhibit enzymes of the host. In order to design derivatives of deaza analogues which specifically bind target enzymes, knowledge of their molecular structure, protonation state, and predominant tautomers at physiological conditions is essential. We have employed resonance Raman spectroscopy at an excitation wavelength of 260 nm, to decipher solution structure of 9-deazaguanine (9DAG) and 9-deazahypoxanthine (9DAH). These are analogues of guanine and hypoxanthine, respectively, and have been exploited to study static complexes of nucleobase binding enzymes. Such enzymes are known to perturb pKa of their ligands, and thus, we also determined solution structures of these analogues at two, acidic and alkaline, pH. Structure of each possible protonation state and tautomer was computed using density functional theoretical calculations. Species at various pHs were identified based on isotopic shifts in experimental wavenumbers and by comparing these shifts with corresponding computed isotopic shifts. Our results show that at physiological pH, N1 of pyrimidine ring in 9DAG and 9DAH bears a proton. At lower pH, N3 is place of protonation, and at higher pH, deprotonation occurs at N1 position. The proton at N7 of purine ring remains intact even at pH 12.5. We have further compared these results with naturally occurring nucleotides. Our results identify key vibrational modes which can report on hydrogen bonding interactions, protonation and deprotonation in purine rings upon binding to the active site of enzymes.