Boronic-diol complexation as click reaction for bioconjugation purposes

  • Chirag Gujral

Student thesis: Phd


The research presented in this thesis focuses on the study of the reaction between boronic acids and diols and its evaluation as a possible "click" reaction, possibly applicable in bioconjugation and drug delivery. A key feature of this reaction is its reversibility at acidic pH, which could allow the release of a diol-containing drug from a bioconjugate in the acidic environment of late endosome/lysosome, possibly after undergoing receptor mediated endocytosis. Over the last two decades various studies have focused on the study of the conjugation of boronic acids to diols using Alizarin Red S as a fluorescence reporter. In this research we have presented an alternative method based on the batochromic shifts of Alizarin Red S absorbance; this method is particularly advantageous in complex systems with an elevated scattering, such as colloidal dispersions or for binding to complexed active compounds. We have therefore demonstrated that this method allows the determination of equilibrium constants between diols (e.g. catecholamines) and boronic acids. We have also demonstrated that the method allows to follow the kinetics of enzymatic reactions involving catechols; in particular, we have focused on cytochrome P450-mediated reactions such as the conversion of estradiol to 2-hydroxyestradiol using CYP1A2, or the demethylation of 3-methoxytyramine to dopamine using CYP2D6. Once we have established a reliable method for following this reaction on low molecular weight compounds, we have applied it to polymeric bioconjugates. Specifically, we have selected hyaluronic acid (HA) as a biocompatible and biodegradable polymeric backbone and produced derivatives containing boronic acids, catechols and dimethylated catechols (as negative controls). The resulting polymers where characterised via UV-Vis, 1H NMR and SLS, also qualitatively evaluating their cytotoxicity and enzymatic degradability. The conjugates with boronic acids showed the lowest cytotoxicity, and the highest degradability. The complexation of HA-boronic derivatives was then studied; using the same library of diols previously used with low molecular weight compounds, evaluating the effect of the presence of the polysaccharidic macromolecular chain.
Date of Award1 Aug 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorNicola Tirelli (Supervisor)


  • Dopamine
  • APBA
  • ARS
  • CYP
  • hyaluronan
  • diol
  • boronic
  • batochromic

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