Photophysical Properties and DNA Binding of Two Intercalating Osmium Polypyridyl Complexes Showing Light-Switch Effects

Mark Stitch, Rayhaan Boota, Alannah Chalkley, Tony Keene, Jeremy Simpson, Paul Scattergood, Paul Elliott, Susan Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The synthesis and photophysical characterization of two osmium(II) polypyridyl complexes, [Os(TAP)2dppz]2+ (1) and [Os(TAP)2dppp2]2+ (2) containing dppz (dipyrido[3,2-a:2′,3′-c]phenazine) and dppp2 (pyrido[2′,3′:5,6]pyrazino[2,3-f][1,10]phenanthroline) intercalating ligands and TAP (1,4,5,8-tetraazaphenanthrene) ancillary ligands, are reported. The complexes exhibit complex electrochemistry with five distinct reductive redox couples, the first of which is assigned to a TAP-based process. The complexes emit in the near-IR (1 at 761 nm and 2 at 740 nm) with lifetimes of >35 ns with a low quantum yield of luminescence in aqueous solution (∼0.25%). The Δ and Λ enantiomers of 1 and 2 are found to bind to natural DNA and with AT and GC oligodeoxynucleotides with high affinities. In the presence of natural DNA, the visible absorption spectra are found to display significant hypochromic shifts, which is strongly evident for the ligand-centered π–π* dppp2 transition at 355 nm, which undergoes 46% hypochromism. The emission of both complexes increases upon DNA binding, which is observed to be sensitive to the Δ or Λ enantiomer and the DNA composition. A striking result is the sensitivity of Λ-2 to the presence of AT DNA, where a 6-fold enhancement of luminescence is observed and reflects the nature of the binding for the enantiomer and the protection from solution. Thermal denaturation studies show that both complexes are found to stabilize natural DNA. Finally, cellular studies show that the complexes are internalized by cultured mammalian cells and localize in the nucleus.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14947-14961
Number of pages15
JournalInorganic Chemistry
Issue number38
Early online date12 Sep 2022
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sep 2022


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