Background: 4-Aminoquinoline SGI-1027 and analogs inhibit DNA methylation, which is deregulated in cancers.
Results: These compounds induce deviations from Michaelis-Menten equations in DNA competition experiments and interact with DNA.
Conclusion: They are competitive inhibitors for the DNA substrate of the DNA methyltransferase and non-competitive for the methyl group donor, S-adenosyl-l-methionine.
Significance: These findings suggest a mechanism of inhibition for these 4-aminoquinoline-based DNMT inhibitors.
Among the epigenetic marks, DNA methylation is one of the most studied. It is highly deregulated in numerous diseases, including cancer. Indeed, it has been shown that hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes promoters is a common feature of cancer cells. Because DNA methylation is reversible, the DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs), responsible for this epigenetic mark, are considered promising therapeutic targets. Several molecules have been identified as DNMT inhibitors and, among the non-nucleoside inhibitors, 4-aminoquinoline-based inhibitors, such as SGI-1027 and its analogs, showed potent inhibitory activity. Here we characterized the in vitro mechanism of action of SGI-1027 and two analogs. Enzymatic competition studies with the DNA substrate and the methyl donor cofactor, S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet), displayed AdoMet non-competitive and DNA competitive behavior. In addition, deviations from the Michaelis-Menten model in DNA competition experiments suggested an interaction with DNA. Thus their ability to interact with DNA was established; although SGI-1027 was a weak DNA ligand, analog 5, the most potent inhibitor, strongly interacted with DNA. Finally, as 5 interacted with DNMT only when the DNA duplex was present, we hypothesize that this class of chemical compounds inhibit DNMTs by interacting with the DNA substrate.