The journal of physical chemistry. A

Single Conformation Spectroscopy of Suberoylanilide Hydroxamic Acid: A Molecule Bites Its Tail.

PMID 28071906


Suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) is a histone deacetylase inhibitor that causes growth arrest and differentiation of many tumor types and is an approved drug for the treatment of cancer. The chemical structure of SAHA consists of formanilide "head" and a hydroxamic acid "tail" separated by an n-hexyl chain, C6H5NH(C═O)-(CH2)6-(C═O)NHOH. The alkyl chain's preference for extended structures is in competition with tail-to-head (T-H) or head-to-tail (H-T) hydrogen bonds between the amide and hydroxamic acid groups. Laser desorption was used to bring SAHA into the gas phase and cool it in a supersonic expansion before interrogation with mass-resolved resonant two-photon ionization spectroscopy. Single conformation UV spectra in the S0-S1 region and infrared spectra in the hydride stretch and mid-IR regions were recorded using IR-UV hole-burning and resonant ion-dip infrared spectroscopy, respectively. Three conformers of SAHA were distinguished and spectroscopically characterized. Comparison of the experimental IR spectra with the predictions of density functional theory calculations (DFT, B3LYP D3BJ/6-31+G(d)) leads to assignments for the three conformers, all of which possess tightly folded alkyl chains that enable formation of a T-H (conformer A) or H-T (conformers B and C) hydrogen bonds. A modified version of the generalized Amber force field was developed to more accurately describe the hydroxamic acid OH internal rotor potential, leading to predictions for the relative energies in reasonable agreement with experiment. This force field was used to generate a disconnectivity graph for the low-energy portion of the potential energy landscape of SAHA. This disconnectivity graph contains more than one hundred minima and maps out the lowest-energy pathways between them, which could then be characterized via DFT calculations. This combination of force field and DFT calculations provides insight into the potential energy landscape and how population was funneled into the three observed conformers.