Aggregation versus biological activity in Gold(I) complexes. An unexplored concept



he aggregation process of a series of mono- and dinuclear gold(I) complexes containing a 4-ethynylaniline ligand and a phosphane at the second coordination position (PR3-Au-C≡CC6H4-NH2, complexes 1-5, and (diphos)(Au-C≡CC6H4-NH2)2, complexes 6-8), whose biological activity was previously studied by us, has been carefully analyzed through absorption, emission, and NMR spectroscopy, together with dynamic light scattering and small-angle X-ray scattering. These experiments allow us to retrieve information about how the compounds enter the cells. It was observed that all compounds present aggregation in fresh solutions, before biological treatment, and thus they must be entering the cells as aggregates. Inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry measurements showed that mononuclear complexes are mainly found in the cytosolic fraction; the dinuclear complexes are mainly found in a subsequent fraction composed of nuclei and cytoskeleton. Additionally, dinuclear complex 8 affects the actin aggregation to a larger extent, suggesting a cooperative effect of dinuclear compounds. Copyright (C) 2021 The American Chemical Society

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