Synthetic biologists try to engineer useful biological systems that do not exist in nature. One of their goals is to design an orthogonal chromosome different from DNA and RNA, termed XNA for xeno nucleic acids. XNA exhibits a variety of structural chemical changes relative to its natural counterparts. These changes make this novel information-storing biopolymer “invisible” to natural biological systems. The lack of cognition to the natural world, however, is seen as an opportunity to implement a genetic firewall that impedes exchange of genetic information with the natural world, which means it could be the ultimate biosafety tool. Here I discuss, why it is necessary to go ahead designing xenobiological systems like XNA and its XNA binding proteins; what the biosafety specifications should look like for this genetic enclave; which steps should be carried out to boot up the first XNA life form; and what it means for the society at large.
auxotrophy; biosafety; synthetic biology; xenobiology; xeno nucleic acids
Genetic information storage and processing rely on just two polymers, DNA and RNA. Whether their role reflects evolutionary history or fundamental functional constraints is unknown. Using polymerase evolution and design, we show that genetic information can be stored in and recovered from six alternative genetic polymers (XNAs) based on simple nucleic acid architectures not found in nature. We also select XNA aptamers, which bind their targets with high affinity and specificity, demonstrating that beyond heredity, specific XNAs have the capacity for Darwinian evolution and for folding into defined structures. Thus, heredity and evolution, two hallmarks of life, are not limited to DNA and RNA but are likely to be emergent properties of polymers capable of information storage.
The plausible release of deeply engineered or even entirely synthetic/artificial microorganisms raises the issue of their intentional (e.g. bioremediation) or accidental interaction with the Environment. Containment systems designed in the 1980s–1990s for limiting the spread of genetically engineered bacteria and their recombinant traits are still applicable to contemporary Synthetic Biology constructs. Yet, the ease of DNA synthesis and the uncertainty on how non-natural properties and strains could interplay with the existing biological word poses yet again the challenge of designing safe and efficacious firewalls to curtail possible interactions. Such barriers may include xeno-nucleic acids (XNAs) instead of DNA as information-bearing molecules, rewriting the genetic code to make it non-understandable by the existing gene expression machineries, and/or making growth dependent on xenobiotic chemicals.
Genetic containment; Biological containment; Horizontal gene transfer; Orthogonal systems; XNA; Alternative gene code
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is a synthetic DNA mimic with valuable properties and a rapidly growing scope of applications. With the exception of recently introduced pseudocomplementary PNAs, binding of common PNA oligomers to target sites located inside linear double-stranded DNAs (dsDNAs) is essentially restricted to homopurine–homopyrimidine sequence motifs, which significantly hampers some of the PNA applications. Here, we suggest an approach to bypass this limitation of common PNAs. We demonstrate that PNA with mixed composition of ordinary nucleobases is capable of sequence-specific targeting of complementary dsDNA sites if they are located at the very termini of DNA duplex. We then show that such targeting makes it possible to perform capturing of designated dsDNA fragments via the DNA-bound biotinylated PNA as well as to signal the presence of a specific dsDNA sequence, in the case a PNA beacon is employed. We also examine the PNA–DNA conjugate and prove that it can initiate the primer-extension reaction starting from the duplex DNA termini when a DNA polymerase with the strand-displacement ability is used. We thus conclude that recognition of duplex DNA by mixed-base PNAs via the end invasion has a promising potential for site-specific and sequence-unrestricted DNA manipulation and detection.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) are a nonionic DNA/RNA mimic that can recognize complementary sequences by Watson–Crick base–pairing. The neutral PNA backbone facilitates recognition of duplex DNA by strand invasion, suggesting that antigene PNAs (agPNAs) can be important tools for exploring the structure and function of chromosomal DNA inside cells. However, before agPNAs can enter wide use it will be necessary to develop straightforward strategies for introducing them into cells. Here we demonstrate that agPNA–peptide conjugates can target promoter DNA and block progesterone receptor (PR) gene expression inside cells. Thirty–six agPNA–peptide conjugates were synthesized and tested. We observed inhibition of gene expression using cationic peptides containing either arginine or lysine residues, with eight or more cationic amino acids being preferred. Both thirteen and nineteen base agPNA-peptide conjugates were inhibitory. Inhibition was observed in human cancer cell lines expressing either high or low levels of progesterone receptor. Modification of agPNA–peptide conjugates with hydrophobic amino acids or small molecule hydrophobic moities yielded improved potency. Inhibition by agPNAs did not require cationic lipid or any other additive, but adding agents to cell growth media that promote endosomal release caused modest increases in agPNA potency. These data demonstrate that chromosomal DNA is accessible to agPNA–peptide conjugates and that chemical modifications can improve potency.
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA)-mediated PCR clamping (H. Ørum, P. E. Nielsen, M. Egholm, R. H. Berg, O. Buchardt, and C. Stanley, Nucleic Acids Res. 21:5332–5336, 1993) was introduced as a novel procedure to selectively amplify ribosomal DNAs (rDNAs) which are not frequently found in clone libraries generated by standard PCR from complex microbial consortia. Three different PNA molecules were used; two of these molecules (PNA-ALF and PNA-EUB353) overlapped with one of the amplification primers, whereas PNA-1114F hybridized to the middle of the amplified region. Thus, PCR clamping was achieved either by competitive binding between the PNA molecules and the forward or reverse primers (competitive clamping) or by hindering polymerase readthrough (elongation arrest). Gene libraries generated from mixed rDNA templates by using PCR clamping are enriched for clones that do not contain sequences homologous to the appropriate PNA oligomer. This effect of PCR clamping was exploited in the following two ways: (i) analysis of gene libraries generated by PCR clamping with PNA-ALF together with standard libraries reduced the number of clones which had to be analyzed to detect all of the different sequences present in an artificial rDNA mixture; and (ii) PCR clamping with PNA-EUB353 and PNA-1114F was used to selectively recover rDNA sequences which represented recently described phylogenetic groups (NKB19, TM6, cluster related to green nonsulfur bacteria) from an anaerobic, dechlorinating consortium described previously. We concluded that PCR clamping might be a useful supplement to standard PCR amplification in rDNA-based studies of microbial diversity and could be used to selectively recover members of undescribed phylogenetic clusters from complex microbial communities.
Long RNA substrates are inefficiently cleaved by hammerhead ribozymes in trans. Oligonucleotide facilitators capable of affecting the ribozyme activity by interacting with the substrates at the termini of the ribozyme provide a possibility to improve ribozyme mediated cleavage of long RNA substrates. We have examined the effect of PNA as facilitator in vitro in order to test if even artificial compounds have facilitating potential. Effects of 12mer PNA- (peptide nucleic acid), RNA- and DNA-facilitators of identical sequence were measured with three substrates containing either 942, 452 or 39 nucleotides. The PNA facilitator enhances the ribozyme activity with both, the 942mer and the 452mer substrate to a slightly smaller extent than RNA and DNA facilitators. This effect was observed up to PNA facilitator:substrate ratios of 200:1. The enhancement becomes smaller as the PNA facilitator:substrate ratio exceeds 200:1. With the 39mer substrate, the PNA facilitator decreases the ribozyme activity by more than 100-fold, even at PNA facilitator:substrate ratios of 1:1. Although with long substrates the effect of the PNA facilitator is slightly smaller than the effect of identical RNA or DNA facilitators, PNA may be a more practical choice for potential applications in vivo because PNA is much more resistant to degradation by cellular enzymes.
An in vivo model system to understand the mechanism of xenograft rejection was established using human peripheral blood leukocyte-reconstituted SCID (hu-PBL-SCID) mice. Human xenoreactive natural antibodies (XNA), of IgM and IgG subtypes, capable of binding to pig aortic endothelial cells (PAEC) were detected in the sera of hu-PBL-SCID by ELISA and flowcytometric methods. Western blot analysis of PAEC lysates showed that IgM and IgG XNA from hu-PBL-SCID recognized xenoantigens with similar molecular mass as those recognized by XNA from normal human serum (NHS). This result demonstrated that hu-PBL-SCID contained XNA representing the same repertoire as that of the NHS. XNA from NHS and hu-PBL-SCID were also able to induce intracellular Ca2+ signals in cultured PAEC several fold above the basal level. This result revealed their functional similarity and demonstrated for the first time that XNA in the absence of C can activate PAEC, which may lead to the pathology of xenograft rejection. In vivo, PAEC transplanted under the kidney capsule of hu-PBL-SCID mice showed deposition of human IgM and mouse C. In summary, the present study demonstrates that hu-PBL-SCID can serve as a useful model to characterize innate immunity against xenograft.
Invasion of two PNA strands to double-stranded DNA is one of the most promising methods to recognize a predetermined site in double-stranded DNA (PNA = peptide nucleic acid). In order to facilitate this ‘double-duplex invasion’, a new type of PNA was prepared by using chiral PNA monomers in which a nucleobase was bound to the α-nitrogen of N-(2-aminoethyl)-d-lysine. These positively charged monomer units, introduced to defined positions in Nielsen's PNAs (poly[N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine] derivatives), promoted the invasion without impairing mismatch-recognizing activity. When pseudo-complementary nucleobases 2,6-diaminopurine and 2-thiouracil were bound to N-(2-aminoethyl)-d-lysine, the invasion successfully occurred even at highly G–C-rich regions [e.g. (G/C)7(A/T)3 and (G/C)8(A/T)2] which were otherwise hardly targeted. Thus, the scope of sequences available as the target site has been greatly expanded. In contrast with the promotion by the chiral PNA monomers derived from N-(2-aminoethyl)-d-lysine, their l-isomers hardly invaded, showing crucial importance of the d-chirality. The promotion of double-duplex invasion by the chiral (d) PNA monomer units was ascribed to both destabilization of PNA/PNA duplex and stabilization of PNA/DNA duplexes.
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is one of the most widely used synthetic DNA analogs. Conjugation of functional molecules to PNA is very effective to further widen its potential applications. For this purpose, here we report the synthesis of several ligand monomers and introduced them to PNA. These ligand-modified PNAs attract cerium ion and are useful for site-selective DNA hydrolysis. It should be noted that these ligands on PNA are also effective even under the conditions of invasion complex.
cerium; DNA; hydrolysis; ligand; metal ion; peptide nucleic acid
In an attempt to improve physico-chemical and biological properties of peptide nucleic acids (PNAs), particularly water solubility and cellular uptake, the synthesis of chimeric oligomers consisted of PNA and phosphono-PNA analogues (pPNAs) bearing the four natural nucleobases has been accomplished. To produce these chimeras, pPNA monomers of two types containing N-(2-hydroxyethyl)phosphonoglycine, or N-(2-aminoethyl)phosphonoglycine backbone, were used in conjunction with PNA monomers representing derivatives of N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine, or N-(2-hydroxyethyl)glycine. The oligomers obtained were composed of either PNA and pPNA stretches or alternating PNA and pPNA monomers. The examination of hybridization properties of PNA-pPNA chimeras to DNA and RNA complementary strands in comparison with pure PNAs, and pPNAs as well as DNA-pPNA hybrids and DNA fragments confirmed that these chimeras form stable complexes with complementary DNA and RNA fragments. They were found to be resistant to degradation by nucleases. All these properties together with good solubility in water make PNA-pPNA hybrids promising for further evaluation as potential therapeutic agents.
Several strategies have been developed for the production of peptide nucleic acid (PNA) microarrays by parallel probe synthesis and selective coupling of full-length molecules. Such microarrays were used for direct detection of the hybridisation of unlabelled DNA by time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry. PNAs were synthesised by an automated process on filter-bottom microtitre plates. The resulting molecules were released from the solid support and attached without any purification to microarray surfaces via the terminal amino group itself or via modifications, which had been chemically introduced during synthesis. Thus, only full-length PNA oligomers were attached whereas truncated molecules, produced during synthesis because of incomplete condensation reactions, did not bind. Different surface chemistries and fitting modifications of the PNA terminus were tested. For an examination of coupling selectivity, bound PNAs were cleaved off microarray surfaces and analysed by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Additionally, hybridisation experiments were performed to compare the attachment chemistries, with fully acetylated PNAs spotted as controls. Upon hybridisation of unlabelled DNA to such microarrays, binding events could be detected by visualisation of phosphates, which are an integral part of nucleic acids but missing entirely in PNA probes. Overall best results in terms of selectivity and sensitivity were obtained with thiol-modified PNAs on maleimide surfaces.
A monophosphate group was attached to the terminus of pseudo-complementary peptide nucleic acid (pcPNA), and two of thus modified pcPNAs were combined with Ce(IV)/EDTA for site-selective hydrolysis of double-stranded DNA. The site-selective DNA scission was notably accelerated by this chemical modification of pcPNAs. These second-generation artificial restriction DNA cutters (ARCUTs) differentiated the target sequence so strictly that no scission occurred even when only one DNA base-pair was altered to another. By using two of the activated ARCUTs simultaneously, DNA substrate was selectively cut at two predetermined sites, and the desired fragment was clipped and cloned. The DNA scission by ARCUT was also successful even when the target site was methylated by methyltransferase and protected from the corresponding restriction enzyme. Furthermore, potentiality of ARCUT for manipulation of huge DNA has been substantiated by site-selective scission of genomic DNA of Escherichia coli (composed of 4,600,000 bp) at the target site. All these results indicate promising applications of ARCUTs for versatile purposes.
The enhanced thermodynamic stability of PNA:DNA and PNA:RNA duplexes compared with DNA:DNA and DNA:RNA duplexes has been attributed in part to the lack of electrostatic repulsion between the uncharged PNA backbone and negatively charged DNA or RNA backbone. However, there are no previously reported studies that systematically evaluate the effect of ionic strength on duplex stability for PNA having a charged backbone. Here we investigate the role of charge repulsion in PNA binding by synthesizing PNA strands having negatively or positively charged side chains, then measuring their duplex stability with DNA or RNA at varying salt concentrations. At low salt concentrations, positively charged PNA binds more strongly to DNA and RNA than does negatively charged PNA. However, at medium to high salt concentrations, this trend is reversed, and negatively charged PNA shows higher affinity for DNA and RNA than does positively charged PNA. These results show that charge screening by counterions in solution enables negatively charged side chains to be incorporated into the PNA backbone without reducing duplex stability with DNA and RNA. This research provides new insight into the role of electrostatics in PNA binding, and demonstrates that introduction of negatively charged side chains is not significantly detrimental to PNA binding affinity at physiological ionic strength. The ability to incorporate negative charge without sacrificing binding affinity is anticipated to enable the development of PNA therapeutics that take advantage of both the inherent benefits of PNA and the multitude of charge-based delivery technologies currently being developed for DNA and RNA.
Alanyl-peptide nucleic acid (alanyl-PNA)/DNA chimeras are oligomers envisaged to be beneficial in efficient DNA diagnostics based on an improved molecular beacon concept. A synthesis of alanyl-PNA/DNA chimera can be based on the solid phase assembly of the oligomer with mixed oligonucleotide/peptide backbone under DNA synthesis conditions, in which the nucleotides are introduced as phosphoramidites, whereas the nucleo amino acids make use of the acid labile monomethoxytrityl (MMT) group for temporary protection of the α-amino groups and acyl protecting groups for the exocyclic amino functions of the nucleobases. In this work, we realized for the first time the synthesis of all four MMT/acyl-protected nucleo alanines, achieved by deprotection/reprotection of the newly synthesized Boc/acyl intermediates, useful monomers for the obtainment of (alanyl-PNA)/DNA chimeras by conditions fully compatible with the standard phosphoramidite DNA synthesis strategy.
Amino acids; DNA recognition; Molecular beacon; Protecting groups
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) forms sequence-specific (PNA)2/DNA triplexes with one strand of double-stranded DNA by strand invasion. When formed with the template strand of DNA such a (PNA)2/DNA triplex can arrest transcription elongation in vitro and can thus act as an anti-gene agent. One of the major obstacles to applying PNA as an anti-gene agent in vivo is that PNA strand invasion occurs at a very slow rate under moderate salt conditions. In the present study we show that transcription can increase the rate of sequence-specific PNA binding dramatically. Such transcription-mediated PNA binding occurs three times as efficiently when the PNA target is situated on the non- template strand as compared with the template strand. Since transcription can mediate template strand-associated (PNA)2/DNA complexes which arrest further elongation, the action of RNA polymerase results in repression of its own activity, i.e. suicide transcription. These findings are highly relevant for the possible future use of PNA as an anti-gene agent.
The synthesis and characterization of isotopomer tandem nucleic acid mass tag–peptide nucleic acid (TNT–PNA) conjugates is described along with their use as electrospray ionisation-cleavable (ESI-Cleavable) hybridization probes for the detection and quantification of target DNA sequences by electrospray ionisation tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS). ESI-cleavable peptide TNT isotopomers were introduced into PNA oligonucleotide sequences in a total synthesis approach. These conjugates were evaluated as hybridization probes for the detection and quantification of immobilized synthetic target DNAs using ESI-MS/MS. In these experiments, the PNA portion of the conjugate acts as a hybridization probe, whereas the peptide TNT is released in a collision-based process during the ionization of the probe conjugate in the electrospray ion source. The cleaved TNT acts as a uniquely resolvable marker to identify and quantify a unique target DNA sequence. The method should be applicable to a wide variety of assays requiring highly multiplexed, quantitative DNA/RNA analysis, including gene expression monitoring, genetic profiling and the detection of pathogens.
In the search of facile and efficient methods for cellular delivery of peptide nucleic acids (PNA), we have synthesized PNAs conjugated to oligophosphonates via phosphonate glutamine and bis-phosphonate lysine amino acid derivatives thereby introducing up to twelve phosphonate moieties into a PNA oligomer. This modification of the PNA does not interfere with the nucleic acid target binding affinity based on thermal stability of the PNA/RNA duplexes. When delivered to cultured HeLa pLuc705 cells by Lipofectamine, the PNAs showed dose-dependent nuclear antisense activity in the nanomolar range as inferred from induced luciferase activity as a consequence of pre-mRNA splicing correction by the antisense-PNA. Antisense activity depended on the number of phosphonate moieties and the most potent hexa-bis-phosphonate-PNA showed at least 20-fold higher activity than that of an optimized PNA/DNA hetero-duplex. These results indicate that conjugation of phosphonate moieties to the PNA can dramatically improve cellular delivery mediated by cationic lipids without affecting on the binding affinity and sequence discrimination ability, exhibiting EC50 values down to one nanomolar. Thus the intracellular efficacy of PNA oligomers rival that of siRNA and the results therefore emphasize that provided sufficient in vivo bioavailability of PNA can be achieved these molecules may be developed into potent gene therapeutic drugs.
The synthesis of N-((N4-(benzoyl)cytosine-1-yl)acetyl)- N -(2-Boc-aminoethyl)glycine (CBz) and the incorporation of this monomer into PNA oligomers are described. A single CBzresidue within a 10mer homopyrimidine PNA is capable of switching the preferred binding mode from a parallel to an antiparallel orientation when targeting a deoxyribonucleotide sequence at neutral pH. The resulting complex has a thermal stability equal to that of the corresponding PNA-DNA duplex, indicative of a strong destabilization of Hoogsteen strand PNA binding due to steric interference by the benzoyl moieties. Accordingly, incorporation of the CBz residue into linked PNAs (bis-PNAs) results in greatly reduced thermal stability of the formed PNA:DNA complexes. Thus, incorporation of the CBz monomer could eliminate the stability bias of triplex-forming sequences in PNA used in hybridization arrays and combinatorial library formats. Furthermore, it is shown that the benzoyl moiety does not severely interfere with Watson-Crick hydrogen bonding, thereby presenting an interesting route for novel cytosine modifications.
Peptide nucleic acid oligomers (PNAs) have a remarkable ability to invade duplex DNA at polypurine–polypyrimidine target sequences. Applications for PNAs in medicine and biotechnology would increase if the rules governing their hybridization to mixed base sequences were also clear. Here we describe hybridization of PNAs to mixed base sequences and demonstrate that simple chemical modifications can enhance recognition. Easily synthesized and readily soluble eight and 10 base PNAs bind to plasmid DNA at an inverted repeat that is likely to form a cruciform structure, providing convenient tags for creating PNA–plasmid complexes. PNAs also bind to mixed base sequences that cannot form cruciforms, suggesting that recognition is a general phenomenon. Rates of strand invasion are temperature dependent and can be enhanced by attaching PNAs to positively charged peptides. Our results support use of PNAs to access the information within duplex DNA and demonstrate that simple chemical modifications can make PNAs even more powerful agents for strand invasion. Simple strategies for enhancing strand invasion should facilitate the use of PNAs: (i) as biophysical probes of double-stranded DNA; (ii) to target promoters to control gene expression; and (iii) to direct sequence-specific mutagenesis.
Two types of oligonucleotide mimics relative to peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) were tested as probes in nucleic acid hybridisation assays based on polyacrylamide technology. One type of mimic oligomers represented a chimera constructed of PNA and phosphono-PNA (pPNA) monomers, and the other one contained pPNA residues alternating with PNA-like monomers on the base of trans -4-hydroxy-L-proline (HypNA). A chemistry providing efficient and specific covalent attachment of these DNA mimics to acrylamide polymers using a convenient approach based on the co-polymerisation of acrylamide and some reactive acrylic acid derivatives with oligomers bearing 5'- or 3'-terminal acrylamide groups has been developed. A comparative study of polyacrylamide conjugates with oligonucleotides and mimic oligomers demonstrated the suitability and high potential of PNA-pPNA and HypNA-pPNA chimeras as sequence-specific probes in capture and detection of target nucleic acid fragments to serve current forms of DNA arrays.
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is a synthetic DNA analogue that is resistant to nucleases and proteases and binds with exceptional affinity to RNA. Because of these properties PNA has the potential to become a powerful therapeutic agent to be used in vivo. Until now, however, the use of PNA in vivo has not been much investigated. Here, we have attempted to reduce the expression of the bcr/abl oncogene in chronic myeloid leukaemia KYO-1 cells using a 13mer PNA sequence (asPNA) designed to hybridise to the b2a2 junction of bcr/abl mRNA. To enhance cellular uptake asPNA was covalently linked to the basic peptide VKRKKKP (NLS-asPNA). Moreover, to investigate the cellular uptake by confocal microscopy, both PNAs were linked by their N-terminus to fluorescein (FL). Studies of uptake, carried out at 4 and 37°C on living KYO-1 cells stained with hexidium iodide, showed that both NLS-asPNA-FL and asPNA-FL were taken up by the cells, through a receptor-independent mechanism. The intracellular amount of NLS-asPNA-FL was about two to three times higher than that of asPNA-FL. Using a semi-quantitative RT– PCR technique we found that 10 µM asPNA and NLS-asPNA reduced the level of b2a2 mRNA in KYO-1 cells to 20 ± 5% and 60 ± 10% of the control, respectively. Western blot analysis showed that asPNA promoted a significant inhibition of p210BCR/ABL protein: residual protein measured in cells exposed for 48 h to asPNA was ∼35% of the control. Additionally, asPNA impaired cell growth to 50 ± 5% of the control and inhibited completion of the cell cycle. In summary, these results demonstrate that a PNA 13mer is taken up by KYO-1 cells and is capable of producing a significant and specific down-regulation of the bcr/abl oncogene involved in leukaemogenesis.
We describe a novel array for accurate and reliable genotyping of human papillomavirus (HPV) using peptide nucleic acid (PNA) probes. In order to exploit the superior hybridization properties of PNA with target HPV DNAs, we developed a novel PNA array (PANArray HPV). PANArray HPV enables the detection and genotyping of HPVs using 32 type-specific PNA capture probes for medically important HPVs. All tested HPV types showed highly unique hybridization patterns with type-specific PNA probes. PNA array results showed stable specificities and sensitivities after up to 13 months of storage at room temperature. Also, we demonstrated the superior specificity, sensitivity, and stability of PNA arrays for HPV genotyping. We compared the genotyping results of the PNA array to sequencing with MY09/11 PCR products derived from 72 clinical samples. The results showed excellent agreement between the PNA array and sequencing, except for samples reflecting multiple infections. The results from the PNA array were compared with those of type-specific PCR when discrepant results occurred owing to multiple infections. The results for the PNA array matched those of type-specific PCR in all cases. Newly developed PNA arrays show excellent specificity and sensitivity and long shelf life. Our results suggest that the PNA array represents a reliable alternative to conventional DNA arrays for HPV genotyping, as well as for diagnostics.
Herein we describe the first application of direct linear analysis (DLA) to the mapping of a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC), specifically the 185.1 kb-long BAC 12M9. DLA is a single molecule mapping technology, based on microfluidic elongation and interrogation of individual DNA molecules, sequence-specifically tagged with bisPNAs. A DNA map with S/N ratio sufficiently high to detect all major binding sites was obtained using only 200 molecule traces. A new method was developed to extract an oriented map from an averaged map that included a mixture of head-first and tail-first DNA traces. In addition, we applied DLA to study the conformation and tagging of highly stretched DNA. Optimal conditions for promoting sequence-specific binding of bisPNA to an 8 bp target site were elucidated using DLA, which proved superior to electromobility shift assays. DLA was highly reproducible with a hybridized tag position localized with an accuracy of ±0.7 µm or ±2.1 kb demonstrating its utility for rapid mapping of large DNA at the single molecule level. Within this accuracy, DNA molecules, stretched to at least 85% of their contour length, were stretched uniformly, so that the map expressed in relative coordinates, was the same regardless of the molecule extension.
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is a DNA mimic in which the nucleobases are linked by an N-(2-aminoethyl) glycine backbone. Here we report that PNA can interact with single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) in a non-sequence-specific fashion. We observed that a 15mer PNA inhibited the ssDNA-stimulated ATPase activity of a bacteriophage T4 helicase, Dda. Surprisingly, when a fluorescein-labeled 15mer PNA was used in binding studies no interaction was observed between PNA and Dda. However, fluorescence polarization did reveal non-sequence-specific interactions between PNA and ssDNA. Thus, the inhibition of ATPase activity of Dda appears to result from depletion of the available ssDNA due to non-Watson–Crick binding of PNA to ssDNA. Inhibition of the ssDNA-stimulated ATPase activity was observed for several PNAs of varying length and sequence. To study the basis for this phenomenon, we examined self-aggregation by PNAs. The 15mer PNA readily self-aggregates to the point of precipitation. Since PNAs are hydrophobic, they aggregate more than DNA or RNA, making the study of this phenomenon essential for understanding the properties of PNA. Non-sequence-specific interactions between PNA and ssDNA were observed at moderate concentrations of PNA, suggesting that such interactions should be considered for antisense and antigene applications.