Alkylating Potential of Oxetanes

R. Gomez-Bombarelli, B. B. Palma, C. Martins, M. Kranendonk, A. S. Rodrigues, Emilio Calle, J. Rueff, J. Casado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Small, highly strained heterocycles are archetypical alkylating agents (oxiranes, beta-lactones, aziridinium, and thiirinium ions). Oxetanes, which are tetragonal ethers, are higher homologues of oxiranes and reduced counterparts of beta-lactones, and would therefore be expected to be active alkylating agents. Oxetanes are widely used in the manufacture of polymers, especially in organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), and are present, as a substructure, in compounds such as the widely used antimitotic taxol. Whereas the results of animal tests suggest that trimethylene oxide (TMO), the parent compound, and beta,beta-dimethyloxetane (DMOX) are active carcinogens at the site of injection, no studies have explored the alkylating ability and genotoxicity of oxetanes. This work addresses the issue using a mixed methodology: a kinetic study of the alkylation reaction of 4-(p-nitrobenzyl)pyridine (NBP)), a trap for alkylating agents with nucleophilicity similar to that of DNA bases, by three oxetanes (TMO, DMOX, and methyloxetanemethanol), and a mutagenicity, genotoxicity, and cell viability study (Salmonella microsome test, BTC E. coil test, alkaline comet assay, and MTT assay). The results suggest either that oxetanes lack genotoxic capacity or that their mode of action is very different from that of epoxides and beta-lactones.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1275-1281
Number of pages7
JournalChemical Research In Toxicology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


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