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Heterogeneous Rupturing Dendrimers

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journal contribution
posted on 10.11.2017, 00:00 by Oliver C. J. Andrén, Aristi P. Fernandes, Michael Malkoch
Utilizing macromolecular scaffolds as templates for the production of small molecules that are distinctively different from the original monomer feedstock has many potential applications. Herein, as a proof-of-concept, a family of dendrimers displaying internally queued disulfide bridges were synthesized and exploited as flawless macromolecular templates that selectively rupture into a set of monomeric mercaptans. Disassembly was accomplished in a reducing environment, using DTT as an external stimulus, and the thiol constituents were successfully isolated. Their composition was dictated by three dendritic regions, i.e., (i) the symmetrical trithiol of the core (C3), (ii) the interior-asymmetric trithiols (CD2), and (iii) the periphery-asymmetric monothiols (DB2), in which B functionality is of an orthogonal nature. Taking into account the steady state between disulfides and thiols in all living cells, the collapse of the dendrimers to a multitude of smaller thiols was intracellularly assessed as a means to disrupt the balance of reactive oxygen species (ROS) often elevated in cancer cells. Indeed, the fragmentation induced a significant increase of ROS in human lung carcinoma A549 cells. These findings can potentially alter the perception of dendrimers being limited to carriers to being prodrugs for intracellular delivery of ROS with the potential to fight cancer.