Majus Misiak, Francesco Mantegazza, Giovanni L. Beretta
DNA damaging agents including anthracyclines, camptothecins and platinum drugs are among most frequently used drugs in the chemotherapeutic routine. Due to their relatively low selectivity for cancer cells, administration of these drugs is associated with adverse side effects, inherent genotoxicity with risk of developing secondary cancers. Development of new drugs, which could be spared of these drawbacks and characterize by improved antitumor efficacy, remains challenging yet vitally important task. These properties are in large part dictated by the selectivity of interaction between the drug and DNA and in this way the studies aimed at elucidating the complex interactions between ligand and DNA represent a key step in the drug development. Studies of the drug-DNA interactions encompass determination of DNA sequence specificity and mode of DNA binding as well as kinetic, dynamic and structural parameters of binding. Here, we consider the types of interactions between small molecule ligands and polynucleotides, how they are affected by DNA sequence and structure, and what is their significance for the antitumor activity. Based on this knowledge, we discuss the wide array of experimental techniques available to researchers for studying drug-DNA interactions, which include absorption and emission spectroscopies, NMR, magnetic and optical tweezers or atomic force microscopy. We show, using the clinical and experimental anticancer drugs as examples, how these methods provide various types of information and at the same time complement each other to provide full picture of drug- DNA interaction and aid in the development of new drugs.