Non-classical inhibitors of dihydrofolate reductase

  • Wai K. Chui

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis comprises two main objectives. The first objective involved the stereochemical studies of chiral 4,6-diamino-1-aryl-1,2-dihydro-s-triazines and an investigation on how the different conformations of these stereoisomers may affect their binding affinity to the enzyme dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). The ortho-substituted 1-aryl-1,2-dihydro-s-triazines were synthesised by the three component method. An ortho-substitution at the C6' position was observed when meta-azidocycloguanil was decomposed in acid. The ortho-substituent restricts free rotation and this gives rise to atropisomerism. Ortho-substituted 4,6-diamino-1-aryl-2-ethyl-1,2-dihydro-2-methyl-s-triazine contains two elements of chirality and therefore exists as four stereoisomers: (S,aR), (R,aS), (R,aR) and (S,aS). The energy barriers to rotation of these compounds were calculated by a semi-empirical molecular orbital program called MOPAC and they were found to be in excess of 23 kcal/mol. The diastereoisomers were resolved and enriched by C18 reversed phase h.p.l.c. Nuclear overhauser effect experiments revealed that (S,aR) and (R,aS) were the more stable pair of stereoisomers and therefore existed as the major component. The minor diastereoisomers showed greater binding affinity for the rat liver DHFR in in vitro assay.
The second objective entailed the investigation into the possibility of retaining DHFR inhibitory activity by replacing the classical diamino heterocyclic moiety with an amidinyl group. 4-Benzylamino-3-nitro-N,N-dimethyl-phenylamidine was synthesised in two steps. One of the two phenylamidines indicated weak inhibition against the rat liver DHFR. This weak activity may be due to the failure of the inhibitor molecule to form strong hydrogen bonds with residue Glu-30 at the active site of the enzyme.
Date of AwardJun 1990
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMalcolm F.G. Stevens (Supervisor)


  • 4,6-diamino-1-aryl-1,2-dihydro-s-triazines
  • atropisomerism
  • 4-Benzylamino-3-nitro-N,N-dimethyl-phenylamidine
  • chromatography
  • dihydrofolate reductase

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