Resistance and susceptibility to scrapie has been associated with single nucleotide polymorphisms located within codons 136, 154 and 171 of the ovine prion protein gene (PRNP). Dual-labelled HyBeacon probes were developed to analyse single and clustered polymorphisms within these and neighbouring codons.
Extracted DNAs and unpurified blood samples were genotyped with respect to polymorphisms in PRNP codons 136, 141, 154 and 171. PCR amplicons were investigated using a LightTyper instrument, measuring the stability of probe/target hybridisation through peak melting temperatures and determining the sequence of nucleotides at polymorphic sites.
The performance of HyBeacon assays was evaluated in a validation study comparing genotypes with those obtained using a primer extension assay (Sequenom MassEXTEND) analysed on a MALDI-ToF mass spectrometer. Over 12,000 sheep samples were successfully genotyped, reliably detecting A136, V136, T136, T137, L141, F141 R154, H154, L168, R171, Q171, H171 and K171 sequence variants using only 4 HyBeacon probes.
HyBeacon assays provide an extremely robust and accurate method for the analysis of single and clustered PRNP polymorphisms in a high-throughput format. The flexibility of the diagnostic tests ensures that samples are correctly genotyped even in the presence of additional sequence variations that flank the polymorphisms of interest. Such sequence variations may also be neutralised using universal bases such as 5-nitroindole if required.
DNA and peptide nucleic acid (PNA) molecular beacons were successfully used to detect rRNA in solution. In addition, PNA molecular beacon hybridizations were found to be useful for the quantification of rRNA: hybridization signals increased in a linear fashion with the 16S rRNA concentrations used in this experiment (between 0.39 and 25 nM) in the presence of 50 nM PNA MB. DNA and PNA molecular beacons were successfully used to detect whole cells in fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) experiments without a wash step. The FISH results with the PNA molecular beacons were superior to those with the DNA molecular beacons: the hybridization kinetics were much faster, the signal-to-noise ratio was much higher, and the specificity was much better for the PNA molecular beacons. Finally, it was demonstrated that the combination of the use of PNA molecular beacons in FISH and flow cytometry makes it possible to rapidly collect quantitative FISH data. Thus, PNA molecular beacons might provide a solution for limitations of traditional FISH methods, such as variable target site accessibility, poor sensitivity for target cells with low rRNA content, background fluorescence, and applications of FISH in microfluidic devices.
Cy3B is an extremely bright and stable fluorescent dye, which is only available for coupling to nucleic acids post-synthetically. This severely limits its use in the fields of genomics, biology and nanotechnology. We have optimized the synthesis of Cy3B, and for the first time produced a diverse range of Cy3B monomers for use in solid-phase oligonucleotide synthesis. This molecular toolkit includes phosphoramidite monomers with Cy3B linked to deoxyribose, to the 5-position of thymine, and to a hexynyl linker, in addition to an oligonucleotide synthesis resin in which Cy3B is linked to deoxyribose. These monomers have been used to incorporate single and multiple Cy3B units into oligonucleotides internally and at both termini. Cy3B Taqman probes, Scorpions and HyBeacons have been synthesized and used successfully in mutation detection, and a dual Cy3B Molecular Beacon was synthesized and found to be superior to the corresponding Cy3B/DABCYL Beacon. Attachment of Cy3, Cy3B and Cy5 to the 5-position of thymidine by an ethynyl linker enabled the synthesis of an oligonucleotide FRET system. The rigid linker between the dye and nucleobase minimizes dye–dye and dye–DNA interactions and reduces fluorescence quenching. These reagents open up new future applications of Cy3B, including more sensitive single-molecule and cell-imaging studies.
1,2,3-triazole analogues of PNA (TzNA) in which the amide link in backbone is replaced by triazole ring is synthesized on solid phase by ‘click’ chemistry and such triazolothymine PNA chimeric oligomers are shown to significantly stabilize the derived PNA2:DNA triplexes. With increasing number of triazole units in the backbone, single stranded PNA oligomers exhibit enhanced self-ordering.
PNA analogues; solid phase click chemistry; triazolyl oligimers; XNA; chimeric PNA-XNA; triazole PNA
We have developed a new class of surface-enhanced Raman scattering beacons (SERS beacons) that can be turned on and off by long-range plasmonic coupling, induced by biomolecular recognition and binding events. The beacons are based on colloidal gold nanocrystals in two sizes (40 nm and 60 nm), and are prepared by spectral encoding with a Raman reporter molecule, functionalized with thiolated DNA probes, and stabilized and protected by low-molecular weight polyethylene glycols (PEG). The results show the SERS signal intensities increase by 40-200 fold when the nanoparticle beacons are activated by plasmonic coupling, much higher than the bright-to-dark intensity ratios reported for traditional molecular beacons. Multivalent gold nanoparticles also have exquisite specificity and are able to recognize single-base mismatches or mutations. This class of SERS nanoparticle beacons has novel mechanisms for molecular detection and signal amplification, and its long-range coupling nature raises new opportunities in developing plasmonic probes to detect proteins, cells, and intact viruses.
Molecular beacons are oligonucleotide probes capable of forming a stem–loop hairpin structure with a reporter dye at one end and a quencher at the other end. Conventional molecular beacons are designed with a target-binding domain flanked by two complementary short arm sequences that are independent of the target sequence. Here we report the design of shared-stem molecular beacons with one arm participating in both stem formation when the beacon is closed and target hybridization when it is open. We performed a systematic study to compare the behavior of conventional and shared-stem molecular beacons by conducting thermodynamic and kinetic analyses. Shared-stem molecular beacons form more stable duplexes with target molecules than conventional molecular beacons; however, conventional molecular beacons may discriminate between targets with a higher specificity. For both conventional and shared-stem molecular beacons, increasing stem length enhanced the ability to differentiate between wild-type and mutant targets over a wider range of temperatures. Interestingly, probe–target hybridization kinetics were similar for both classes of molecular beacons and were influenced primarily by the length and sequence of the stem. These findings should enable better design of molecular beacons for various applications.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) have gained much interest as molecular recognition tools in biology, medicine and chemistry. This is due to high hybridization efficiency to complimentary oligonucleotides and stability of the duplexes with RNA or DNA. We have synthesized 15/16-mer PNA probes to detect the HER2 mRNA. The performance of these probes to detect the HER2 target was evaluated by fluorescence imaging and fluorescence bead assays. The PNA probes have sufficiently discriminated between the wild type HER2 target and the mutant target with single base mismatches. Furthermore, the probes exhibited excellent linear concentration dependence between 0.4 to 400 fmol for the target gene. The results demonstrate potential application of PNAs as diagnostic probes with high specificity for quantitative measurements of amplifications or over-expressions of oncogenes.
We developed a new technique to immobilize a set of molecular beacons on an agarose film-coated slide and found that it has the ability to identify a single nucleotide difference in label-free DNA targets. The annealing properties, specificity and hybridization dynamics of the present technique were compared with those of the conventional technique that directly immobilizes molecular beacons on a planar glass slide. It is demonstrated that the molecular beacon array on an agarose film has high quench efficiency, an excellent discrimination ratio for single nucleotide mismatches and a short detection time. We hypothesize that such a low fluorescence background and high specificity molecular beacon array will find practical applications in label-free, high-throughput mutation analysis and disease diagnosis.
A highly efficient chemical ligation was developed for quantitative conjugation of PNA with DNA (PNA or peptide) using the copper-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition reaction. While PNAs with an alkyne at the C-terminus and an azide at the N-terminus have been used, an efficient click-click reaction occurs. The PNA click ligation is sequence-specific and capable of single nucleotide discrimination.
Peptide Nucleic Acids; Chemical Ligation; Click Chemistry; Single Nucleotide Discrimination; DNA detection
Fmoc- and Boc-protected modified monomers bearing 5-azidomethyluracil nucleobase were synthesized. Four different solid-phase synthetic strategies were tested in order to evaluate the application of this series of monomers for the solid-phase synthesis of modified PNA. The azide was used as masked amine for the introduction of amide-linked functional groups, allowing the production of a library of compounds starting from a single modified monomer. The azide function was also exploited as reactive group for the modification of PNA in solution via azide-alkyne click cycloaddition.
modified uracil; peptide nucleic acids; PNA; solid-phase modification; click reaction; orthogonal protection
Rapid and precise screening of small genetic variations, such as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), among an individual’s genome is still an unmet challenge at point-of-care settings. One crucial step towards this goal is the development of discrimination probes that require no enzymatic reaction and are easy to use. Here we report a new type of fluorescent molecular probe, termed a chameleon NanoCluster Beacon (cNCB), that lights up into different colors upon binding SNP targets. NanoCluster Beacons (NCBs) are collections of a small number of Ag atoms templated on single-stranded DNA that fluoresce strongly when placed in proximity to particular DNA sequences, termed enhancers. Here we show the fluorescence emission color of a NCB can change substantially (a shift of 60–70 nm in the emission maximum) depending upon the alignment between the silver nanocluster and the DNA enhancer sequence. Chameleon NCBs exploit this color shift to directly detect SNPs, based on the fact that different SNPs produce a different alignment between the Ag nanocluster and the enhancer. This SNP detection method has been validated on all single-nucleotide substitution scenarios in three synthetic DNA targets, in six disease-related SNP targets, and in two clinical samples taken from patients with ovarian serous borderline tumors. Samples with single-nucleotide variations can be easily identified by the naked eye under UV excitation, making this method a reliable and low-cost assay with a simple readout format.
PNA probes for the specific detection of DNA from olive oil samples by microarray technology were developed. The presence of as low as 5% refined hazelnut (Corylus avellana) oil in extra-virgin olive oil (Olea europaea L.) could be detected by using a PNA microarray. A set of two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from the Actin gene of Olive was chosen as a model for evaluating the ability of PNA probes for discriminating olive cultivars. Both unmodified and C2-modified PNAs bearing an arginine side-chain were used, the latter showing higher sequence specificity. DNA extracted from leaves of three different cultivars (Ogliarola leccese, Canino and Frantoio) could be easily discriminated using a microarray with unmodified PNA probes, whereas discrimination of DNA from oil samples was more challenging, and could be obtained only by using chiral PNA probes.
PNA; olive oil; hazelnut oil; SNP; cultivar identification; DNA fingerprinting
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
We report here the use of novel “sloppy” molecular beacon probes in homogeneous PCR screening assays in which thermal denaturation of the resulting probe-amplicon hybrids provides a characteristic set of amplicon melting temperature (Tm) values that identify which species is present in a sample. Sloppy molecular beacons possess relatively long probe sequences, enabling them to form hybrids with amplicons from many different species despite the presence of mismatched base pairs. By using four sloppy molecular beacons, each possessing a different probe sequence and each labeled with a differently colored fluorophore, four different Tm values can be determined simultaneously. We tested this technique with 27 different species of mycobacteria and found that each species generates a unique, highly reproducible signature that is unaffected by the initial bacterial DNA concentration. Utilizing this general paradigm, screening assays can be designed for the identification of a wide range of species.
We present a simple and novel assay—employing a universal molecular beacon (MB) in the presence of Hg2+—for the detection of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) based on Hg2+–DNA complexes inducing a conformational change in the MB. The MB (T7-MB) contains a 19-mer loop and a stem of a pair of seven thymidine (T) bases, a carboxyfluorescein (FAM) unit at the 5′-end, and a 4-([4-(dimethylamino)phenyl]azo)benzoic acid (DABCYL) unit at the 3′-end. Upon formation of Hg2+–T7-MB complexes through T–Hg2+–T bonding, the conformation of T7-MB changes from a random coil to a folded structure, leading to a decreased distance between the FAM and DABCYL units and, hence, increased efficiency of fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between the FAM and DABCYL units, resulting in decreased fluorescence intensity of the MB. In the presence of complementary DNA, double-stranded DNA complexes form (instead of the Hg2+–T7-MB complexes), with FRET between the FAM and DABCYL units occurring to a lesser extent than in the folded structure. Under the optimal conditions (20 nM T7-MB, 20 mM NaCl, 1.0 μM Hg2+, 5.0 mM phosphate buffer solution, pH 7.4), the linear plot of the fluorescence intensity against the concentration of perfectly matched DNA was linear over the range 2–30 nM (R2 = 0.991), with a limit of detection of 0.5 nM at a signal-to-noise ratio of 3. This new probe provides higher selectivity toward DNA than that exhibited by conventional MBs.
Molecular beacons are increasingly being used in many applications involving nucleic acid detection and quantification. The stem–loop structure of molecular beacons provides a competing reaction for probe–target hybridization that serves to increase probe specificity, which is particularly useful when single-base discrimination is desired. To fully realize the potential of molecular beacons, it is necessary to optimize their structure. Here we report a systematic study of the thermodynamic and kinetic parameters that describe the molecular beacon structure–function relationship. Both probe and stem lengths are shown to have a significant impact on the binding specificity and hybridization kinetic rates of molecular beacons. Specifically, molecular beacons with longer stem lengths have an improved ability to discriminate between targets over a broader range of temperatures. However, this is accompanied by a decrease in the rate of molecular beacon–target hybridization. Molecular beacons with longer probe lengths tend to have lower dissociation constants, increased kinetic rate constants, and decreased specificity. Molecular beacons with very short stems have a lower signal-to-background ratio than molecular beacons with longer stems. These features have significant implications for the design of molecular beacons for various applications.
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.
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.
Real-time visualization of specific endogenous mRNA expression in vivo has the potential to revolutionize medical diagnosis, drug discovery, developmental and molecular biology. However, conventional liposome- or dendrimer-based cellular delivery of molecular probes is inefficient, slow, and often detrimental to the probes. Here we demonstrate the rapid and sensitive detection of RNA in living cells using peptide-linked molecular beacons that possess self-delivery, targeting and reporting functions. We conjugated the TAT peptide to molecular beacons using three different linkages and demonstrated that, at relatively low concentrations, these molecular beacon constructs were internalized into living cells within 30 min with nearly 100% efficiency. Further, peptide-based delivery did not interfere with either specific targeting by or hybridization-induced fluorescence of the probes. We could therefore detect human GAPDH and survivin mRNAs in living cells fluorescently, revealing intriguing intracellular localization patterns of mRNA. We clearly demonstrated that cellular delivery of molecular beacons using the peptide-based approach has far better performance compared with conventional transfection methods. The peptide-linked molecular beacons approach promises to open new and exciting opportunities in sensitive gene detection and quantification in vivo.
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.
For many tasks and species, remote memory (but not recent memory) is spared after damage to the hippocampus. An exception to this pattern of findings has been that both recent and remote memory are impaired after hippocampal lesions when rats are trained in the conventional water maze task. We explored the effect of introducing a navigational beacon for rats to use during testing. Four identical beacons were hung directly over each of the water maze quadrants, equidistant from each other (multiple-beacon maze). One of the beacons was always directly over the hidden platform. By using distal spatial cues, rats could select the correct beacon and use that beacon as a guide to the hidden platform. Probe tests indicated that rats did use the beacons to guide performance throughout training. Two months after the completion of training, rats were given hippocampal or sham lesions. Controls performed well, but the lesion group performed at chance on the retention probe trials. Furthermore, the rats with lesions not only searched indiscriminately in all four quadrants, they also did not use the beacons. These results indicate that impaired performance in the water maze after hippocampal damage reflects more than a loss of spatial information.
spatial; remote; consolidation; rat; water maze; hippocampus
We previously synthesized a series of potent and selective A3 adenosine receptor (AR) agonists (North-methanocarba nucleoside 5′-uronamides) containing dialkyne groups on extended adenine C2 substituents. We coupled the distal alkyne of a 2-octadiynyl nucleoside by Cu(I)-catalyzed “click” chemistry to azide-derivatized G4 (fourth-generation) PAMAM dendrimers to form triazoles. A3AR activation was preserved in these multivalent conjugates, which bound with apparent Ki 0.1–0.3 nM. They were substituted with nucleoside moieties, solely or in combination with water-solubilizing carboxylic acid groups derived from hexynoic acid. A comparison with various amide-linked dendrimers showed that triazole-linked conjugates displayed selectivity and enhanced A3AR affinity. We prepared a PAMAM dendrimer containing equiproportioned peripheral azido and amino groups for conjugation of multiple ligands. A bifunctional conjugate activated both A3 and P2Y14 receptors (via amide-linked uridine-5′-diphosphoglucuronic acid), with selectivity in comparison to other ARs and P2Y receptors. This is the first example of targeting two different GPCRs with the same dendrimer conjugate, which is intended for activation of heteromeric GPCR aggregates. Synergistic effects of activating multiple GPCRs with a single dendrimer conjugate might be useful in disease treatment.
G protein; coupled receptor; purines; alkyne; azide; radioligand binding; dendrimer
Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) are uncharged analogs of DNA and RNA in which the ribose-phosphate backbone is substituted by a backbone held together by amide bonds. PNAs are interesting as models of alternative genetic systems because they form potentially informational base paired helical structures. A PNA C10 oligomer has been shown to act as template for efficient formation of oligoguanylates from activated guanosine ribonucleotides. In a previous paper we used heterosequences of DNA as templates in sequence-dependent polymerization of PNA dimers. In this paper we show that information can be transferred from PNA to RNA. We describe the reactions of activated mononucleotides on heterosequences of PNA. Adenylic, cytidylic and guanylic acids were incorporated into the products opposite their complement on PNA, although less efficiently than on DNA templates.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) are analogs of nucleic acids in which the ribose-phosphate backbone is replaced by a backbone held together by amide bonds. PNAs are interesting as models of alternative genetic systems because they form potentially informational base paired helical structures. Oligocytidylates have been shown to act as templates for formation of longer oligomers of G from PNA G2 dimers. In this paper we show that information can be transferred from DNA to PNA. DNA C4T2C4 is an efficient template for synthesis of PNA G4A2G4 using G2 and A2 units as substrates. The corresponding synthesis of PNA G4C2G4 on DNA C4G2C4 is less efficient. Incorporation of PNA T2 into PNA products on DNA C4A2C4 is the least efficient of the three reactions. These results, obtained using PNA dimers as substrates, parallel those obtained using monomeric activated nucleotides.
Although statins are generally well tolerated, the most common adverse drug reaction from statin therapy is myopathy. This article reviews the current pharmacogenomic knowledge of statin-induced myopathy. Furthermore, we will discuss the importance of recent pharmacogenetic advances for the treatment and management of statin-induced myopathy. Variation in the SLCO1B1 gene is associated with increased incidence of statin-induced myopathy, particularly with simvastatin and less so with other statins. If different pharmacokinetic enzymes and transporters are responsible for susceptibility to myopathy, this may explain differences in the occurrence of statin-induced myopathy in individual patients. Genotyping in patients suffering from statin-induced myopathy may help to personalize the choice of statin for the lowest chance of developing myopathy.