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A selective mono-N-arylation strategy of amidines under Chan–Lam conditions is described. During the reaction optimization phase, the isolation of a mononuclear Cu(II) complex provided unique mechanistic insight into the operation of Chan–Lam mono-N-arylation. The scope of the process is demonstrated, and then applied to access the first mono-N-arylated analogues of pentamidine. Sub-micromolar activity against kinetoplastid parasites was observed for several analogues with no cross-resistance in pentamidine and diminazeneresistant trypanosome strains and against Leishmania mexicana. A fluorescent mono-N-arylated pentamidine analogue revealed rapid cellular uptake, accumulating in parasite nuclei and the kinetoplasts. The DNA binding capability of the mono-N-arylated pentamidine series was confirmed by UV-melt measurements using AT-rich DNA. This work highlights the potential to use Chan-Lam mono-N-arylation to develop therapeutic leads against diamidine-resistant trypanosomiasis and leishmaniasis.
- medicinal chemistry