DNA-Binding of Semirigid Binuclear Ruthenium Complex Δ,Δ-[μ-(11,11‘-bidppz)(phen)4Ru2]4+:  Extremely Slow Intercalation Kinetics

We here report a remarkably slow rearrangement of binding modes for a binuclear ruthenium(II) complex upon interaction with DNA. It has been previously shown that Δ,Δ-[μ-(11,11‘-bidppz)(phen)4Ru2]4+ binds to DNA in one of the grooves. However, we find that this is only an initial, metastable, binding mode, which is extremely slowly reorganized into an intercalative binding geometry. The slow rearrangement and dissociation, revealed by flow linear dichroism and fluorescence spectroscopy, are concluded to be a result from the complex being threaded through the DNA, with one of the bridging aromatic dppz ligands intercalated between the base pairs of the DNA, placing one metal center in the minor groove and one in the major groove. A negative LD, a high luminescence quantum yield, and long luminescence lifetimes, similar to the intercalating complex Δ-[Ru(phen)2dppz]2+, indicate intercalation of the bidppz moiety. The unique slow dissociation of the complex in its final DNA-binding mode suggests that this class of threading, partially intercalated binuclear complexes may be interesting in the context of cancer therapy. Also, their unique optical and photophysical properties could make such complexes, either alone or scaffolded by DNA structures, of interest for the development of nanometer-sized molecular optoelectronic devices.