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.
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.
A series of peptide nucleic acid (PNA) oligomers targeting the mdm2 oncogene mRNA has been tested for the ability to inhibit the growth of JAR cells. The effect of these PNAs on the cells was also reflected in reduced levels of the MDM2 protein and increased levels of the p53 tumor suppressor protein, which is negatively regulated by MDM2. Initially, PNA oligomers were delivered as DNA complexes with lipofectamine, but it was discovered that PNA conjugated to the DNA intercalator 9-aminoacridine (Acr) (Acr–PNA) could be effectively delivered to JAR cells (as well as to HeLa pLuc705 cells) even in the absence of a DNA carrier. Using such lipofectamine-delivered Acr–PNA conjugates, one PNA targeting a cryptic AUG initiation site was identified that at a concentration of 2 μM caused a reduction of MDM2 levels to ∼20% (but no reduction in mdm2 mRNA levels) and a 3-fold increase in p53 levels, whereas a 2-base mismatch control had no such effects. Furthermore, transcriptional activation by p53 was also increased (6-fold), and cell viability was reduced to 80%. Finally, this PNA acted cooperatively with camptothecin treatment both with regard to p53 activity induction as well as cell viability. Using this novel cell delivery system, we have identified a target on the mdm2 mRNA that appears sensitive to antisense inhibition by PNA and therefore could be used as a lead for further development of mdm2-targeted antisense (PNA and other) gene therapeutic anticancer drugs.
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.
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.
Gene correction activation effects of a small series of triplex forming peptide nucleic acid (PNA) covalently conjugated to the DNA interacting ligands psoralen, chlorambucil and camptothecin targeted proximal to a stop codon mutation in an EGFP reporter gene were studied. A 15-mer homopyrimidine PNA conjugated to the topoisomerase I inhibitor camptothecin was found to increase the frequency of repair domain mediated gene correctional events of the EGFP reporter in an in vitro HeLa cell nuclear extract assay, whereas PNA psoralen or chlorambucil conjugates both of which form covalent and also interstrand crosslinked adducts with dsDNA dramatically decreased the frequency of targeted repair/correction. The PNA conjugates were also studied in mammalian cell lines upon transfection of PNA bound EGFP reporter vector and scoring repair of the EGFP gene by FACS analysis of functional EGFP expression. Consistent with the extract experiments, treatment with adduct forming PNA conjugates (psoralen and chlorambucil) resulted in a decrease in background correction frequencies in transiently transfected cells, whereas unmodified PNA or the PNA-camptothecin conjugate had little or no effect. These results suggest that simple triplex forming PNAs have little effect on proximal gene correctional events whereas PNA conjugates capable of forming DNA adducts and interstrand crosslinks are strong inhibitors. Most interestingly the PNA conjugated to the topoisomerase inhibitor, camptothecin enhanced repair in nuclear extract. Thus the effects and use of camptothecin conjugates in gene targeted repair merit further studies.
PNA; triplex; gene correction; repair; DNA modification
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.
The selective manipulation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) replication
and expression within mammalian cells has proven difficult. One
promising approach is to use peptide nucleic acid (PNA) oligomers,
nucleic acid analogues that bind selectively to complementary DNA
or RNA sequences inhibiting replication and translation. However,
the potential of PNAs is restricted by the difficulties of delivering
them to mitochondria within cells. To overcome this problem we conjugated
a PNA 11mer to a lipophilic phosphonium cation. Such cations are
taken up by mitochondria through the lipid bilayer driven by the
membrane potential across the inner membrane. As anticipated, phosphonium–PNA
(ph–PNA) conjugates of 3.4–4 kDa were imported
into both isolated mitochondria and mitochondria within human cells
in culture. This was confirmed by using an ion-selective electrode
to measure uptake of the ph–PNA conjugates; by cell fractionation
in conjunction with immunoblotting; by confocal microscopy; by immunogold-electron microscopy;
and by crosslinking ph–PNA conjugates to mitochondrial
matrix proteins. In all cases dissipating the mitochondrial membrane
potential with an uncoupler prevented ph–PNA uptake. The ph–PNA
conjugate selectively inhibited the in vitro replication
of DNA containing the A8344G point mutation that causes the human
mtDNA disease ‘myoclonic epilepsy and ragged red fibres’ (MERRF) but
not the wild-type sequence that differs at a single nucleotide position.
Therefore these modified PNA oligomers retain their selective binding
to DNA and the lipophilic cation delivers them to mitochondria within
cells. When MERRF cells were incubated with the ph–PNA
conjugate the ratio of MERRF to wild-type mtDNA was unaffected,
even though the ph–PNA content of the mitochondria was
sufficient to inhibit MERRF mtDNA replication in a cell-free system.
This unexpected finding suggests that nucleic acid derivatives cannot
bind their complementary sequences during mtDNA replication. In
summary, we have developed a new strategy for targeting PNA oligomers
to mitochondria and used it to determine the effects of PNA on mutated
mtDNA replication in cells. This work presents new approaches for
the manipulation of mtDNA replication and expression, and will assist
in the development of therapies for mtDNA diseases.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) have a number of attractive features that have made them an ideal choice for antisense and antigene-based tools, probes and drugs, but their poor membrane permeability has limited their application as therapeutic or diagnostic agents. Herein we report a general method for the synthesis of phospholipid-PNAs (LP-PNAs), and compare the effect of non-cleavable lipids and bioreductively cleavable lipids (L and LSS) and phospholipid (LP) on the splice-correcting bioactivity of a PNA bearing the cell penetrating Arg9 group (PNA-R9). While the three constructs show similar and increasing bioactivity at 1–3 μM, the activity of LP-PNA-R9 continues to increase from 4–6 μM while the activity of L-PNA-R9 remains constant and LSS-PNA-R9 decreases rapidly in parallel with their relative cytotoxicity. The activity of both LP-PNA-R9 and L-PNA-R9 were found to dramatically increase with chloroquine, as expected for an endocytotic entry mechanism. Both constructs were also found to have CMC values of 1.0 and 4.5 μM in 150 mM NaCl, pH 7 water, suggesting that micelle formation may play a hitherto unrecognized role in modulating toxicity and/or facilitating endocytosis.
peptide nucleic acid; phospholipid; lipid; cell penetrating peptide; micelle; endocytosis; bioreductively cleavable
Peptide nucleic acids (PNA) are one of the most widely used synthetic DNA mimics where the four bases are attached to a N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine (aeg) backbone instead of the negative-charged phosphate backbone in DNA. We have developed a chimeric PNA (chiPNA), in which a chiral GNA-like γ3T monomer is incorporated into aegPNA backbone. The base pair opening kinetics of the aegPNA:DNA and chiPNA:DNA hybrid duplexes were studied by NMR hydrogen exchange experiments. This study revealed that the aegPNA:DNA hybrid is much more stable duplex and is less dynamic compared to DNA duplex, meaning that base pairs are opened and reclosed much more slowly. The site-specific incorporation of γ3T monomer in the aegPNA:DNA hybrid can destabilize a specific base pair and its neighbors, maintaining the thermal stabilities and dynamic properties of other base pairs. Our hydrogen exchange study firstly revealed the unique kinetic features of base pairs in the aegPNA:DNA and chiPNA:DNA hybrids, which will provide an insight into the development of methodology for specific DNA recognition using PNA fragments.
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is a synthetic analogue of DNA that commonly has an N-aminoethlyl-glycine backbone. The crystal structure of two PNA duplexes, one containing eight standard nucleobase pairs (GGCATCGG)2 (pdb: 3MBS), and the other containing the same nucleobase pairs and a central pair of bipyridine ligands (pdb: 3MBU), has been solved with a resolution of 1.2 Å and 1.05 Å, respectively. The non-modified PNA duplex adopts a P-type helical structure s i m i l a r t o that of previously characterized PNAs. The atomic-level resolution of the structures allowed us to observe for the first time specific modes of interaction between the terminal lysines of the PNA and the backbone and nucleobases situated in the vicinity of the lysines, which are considered an important factor in the induction of a preferred handedness in PNA duplexes. These results support the notion that while PNA typically adopts a P-type helical structure, its flexibility is relatively high. For example, the base pair rise in the bipyridine-containing PNA is the largest measured to date in a PNA homoduplex. The two bipyridines are bulged out of the duplex and are aligned parallel to the minor groove of the PNA. In the case of the bipyridine-containing PNA, two bipyridines from adjacent PNA duplexes form a π-stacked pair that relates the duplexes within the crystal. The bulging out of the bipyridines causes bending of the PNA duplex, which is in contrast to the structure previously reported for biphenyl-modified DNA duplexes in solution, where the biphenyls are π-stacking with adjacent nucleobase pairs and adopt an intrahelical geometry [Johar et al., Chem. Eur. J., 2008, 14, 2080]. This difference shows that relatively small perturbations can significantly impact the relative position of nucleobase analogues in nucleic acid duplexes.
PNA structure; X-ray crystallography; nucleic acids; bipyridine; nucleic acid bending
A series of 18-mer peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) targeted against micro-RNA miR-210 was synthesised and tested in a cellular system. Unmodified PNAs, R8-conjugated PNAs and modified PNAs containing eight arginine residues on the backbone, either as C2-modified (R) or C5-modified (S) monomers, all with the same sequence, were compared. Two different models were used for the modified PNAs: one with alternated chiral and achiral monomers and one with a stretch of chiral monomers at the N terminus. The melting temperatures of these derivatives were found to be extremely high and 5 m urea was used to assess differences between the different structures. FACS analysis and qRT-PCR on K562 chronic myelogenous leukaemic cells indicated that arginine-conjugated and backbone-modified PNAs display good cellular uptake, with best performances for the C2-modified series. Resistance to enzymatic degradation was found to be higher for the backbone-modified PNAs, thus enhancing the advantage of using these derivatives rather than conjugated PNAs in the cells in serum, and this effect is magnified in the presence of peptidases such as trypsin. Inhibition of miR-210 activity led to changes in the erythroid differentiation pathway, which were more evident in mithramycin-treated cells. Interestingly, the anti-miR activities differed with use of different PNAs, thus suggesting a role of the substituents not only in the cellular uptake, but also in the mechanism of miR recognition and inactivation. This is the first report relating to the use of backbone-modified PNAs as anti-miR agents. The results clearly indicate that backbone-modified PNAs are good candidates for the development of very efficient drugs based on anti-miR activity, due to their enhanced bioavailabilities, and that overall anti-miR performance is a combination of cellular uptake and RNA binding.
cell permeation; cellular differentiation; chiral PNA; microRNA; peptide nucleic acids; RNA
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 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.
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.
Epidermal keratinocytes are particularly suitable candidates for in situ gene correction. Intraperitoneal administration of a triplex-forming oligonucleotide (TFO) was shown previously to introduce DNA base changes in a reporter gene in skin, without identifying which cells had been targeted. We extend those previous experiments using two triplex-forming molecules (TFMs), a peptide nucleic acid (PNA-Antp) and a TFO (AG30), and two lines of transgenic mice that have the chromosomally integrated λsupFG1 shuttle-reporter transgene. Successful in vivo genomic modification occurs in epidermis and dermis in CD1 transgenic mice following either intraperitoneal or intradermal delivery of the PNA-Antennapedia conjugate. FITC-PNA-Antp accumulates in nuclei of keratinocytes and, after intradermal delivery of the PNA-Antp, chromosomally modified, keratin 5 positive basal keratinocytes persist for at least 10 days. In hairless (SKH1) mice with the λsupFG1 transgene, intradermal delivery of the TFO, AG30, introduces gene modifications in both tail and back skin and those chromosomal modifications persist in basal keratinocytes for 10 days. Hairless mice should facilitate comparison of various targeting agents and methods of delivery. Gene targeting by repeated local administration of oligonucleotides may prove clinically useful for judiciously selected disease-causing genes in the epidermis.
γ-PNA, a new class of peptide nucleic acids, promises to overcome previous sequence limitations of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) targeting with PNA. To check the potential of γ-PNA, we have synthesized a biotinylated, pentadecameric γ-PNA of mixed sequence carrying three guanidinium G-clamp nucleobases. We have found that strand invasion reactions of the γ-PNA oligomer to its fully complementary target within dsDNA occurs with significantly higher binding rates than to targets containing single mismatches. Association of the PNA oligomer to mismatched targets does not go to completion but instead reaches a stationary level at or below 60%, even at conditions of very low ionic strength. Initial binding rates to both matched and mismatched targets experience a steep decrease with increasing salt concentration. We demonstrate that a linear DNA target fragment with the correct target sequence can be purified from DNA mixtures containing mismatched target or unrelated genomic DNA by affinity capture with streptavidin-coated magnetic beads. Similarly, supercoiled plasmid DNA is obtained with high purity from an initial sample mixture that included a linear DNA fragment with the fully complementary sequence. Based on the results obtained in this study we believe that γ-PNA has a great potential for specific targeting of chosen duplex DNA sites in a sequence-unrestricted fashion.
strand-invasion; gamma-PNA; duplex DNA recognition; duplex DNA capture; plasmid DNA purification
The structural reorganization of nanoscale DNA architectures is a fundamental aspect in dynamic DNA nanotechnology. Commonly, DNA nanoarchitectures are reorganized by means of toehold-expanded DNA sequences in a strand exchange process. Here we describe an unprecedented, toehold-free switching process that relies on pseudo-complementary peptide nucleic acid (pcPNA) by using a mechanism that involves double-strand invasion. The usefulness of this approach is demonstrated by application of these peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) as switches in a DNA rotaxane architecture. The monomers required for generating the pcPNA were obtained by an improved synthesis strategy and were incorporated into a PNA actuator sequence as well as into a short DNA strand that subsequently was integrated into the rotaxane architecture. Alternate addition of a DNA and PNA actuator sequence allowed the multiple reversible switching between a mobile rotaxane macrocycle and a stationary pseudorotaxane state. The switching occurs in an isothermal process at room temperature and is nearly quantitative in each switching step. pcPNAs can potentially be combined with light- and toehold-based switches, thus broadening the toolbox of orthogonal switching approaches for DNA architectures that open up new avenues in dynamic DNA nanotechnology.
A bis-peptide nucleic acid (PNA)-anthraquinone imide (AQI) conjugate has been synthesized and shown to form strand invasion complexes with a duplex DNA target. The two arms of the bis-PNA each consist of five consecutive thymine residues and are linked by a flexible, hydrophilic spacer. Probing with potassium permanganate reveals that the bis-PNA complexes to duplex DNA at A5.T5sites with local displacement of the T5DNA strand. The 5 bp sequence targeted by the PNA is the shortest strand invasion complex reported to date. Irradiation of the strand invasion complex results in asymmetric cleavage of the displaced strand, with more efficient cleavage at the 3'-end of the loop. This result indicates that the bis-PNA binds to the DNA such that the C-terminal T5sequence forms the strand invasion complex, leaving the N-terminal T5sequence to bind by triplex formation, thereby placing the AQI closer to the 3'-end of the displaced strand, consistent with the observed photocleavage pattern. The ability of the PNA to directly report its binding site by photoinduced cleavage could have significant utility in mapping the secondary and tertiary structure of nucleic acids.
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.
We describe snap-to-it probes, a novel probe technology to enhance the hybridization specificity of natural and unnatural nucleic acid oligomers using a simple and readily introduced structural motif. Snap-to-it probes were prepared from peptide nucleic acid (PNA) oligomers by modifying each terminus with a coordinating ligand. The two coordinating ligands constrain the probe into a macrocyclic configuration through formation of an intramolecular chelate with a divalent transition metal ion. On hybridization with a DNA target, the intramolecular chelate in the snap-to-it probe dissociates, resulting in the probe ‘snapping-to’ and binding the target nucleic acid. Thermal transition analysis of snap-to-it probes with complementary and single-mismatch DNA targets revealed that the transition between free and target-bound probe conformations was a reversible equilibrium, and the intramolecular chelate provided a thermodynamic barrier to target binding that resulted in a significant increase in mismatch discrimination. A 4–6°C increase in specificity (ΔTm) was observed from snap-to-it probes bearing either terminal iminodiacetic acid ligands coordinated with Ni2+, or terminal dihistidine and nitrilotriacetic acid ligands coordinated with Cu2+. The difference in specificity of the PNA oligomer relative to DNA was more than doubled in snap-to-it probes. Snap-to-it probes labeled with a fluorophore-quencher pair exhibited target-dependent fluorescence enhancement upon binding with target DNA.
Sequence-specific DNA-binding molecules such as triple helix-forming oligonucleotides (TFOs) provide a means for inducing site-specific mutagenesis and recombination at chromosomal sites in mammalian cells. However, the utility of TFOs is limited by the requirement for homopurine stretches in the target duplex DNA. Here, we report the use of pseudo-complementary peptide nucleic acids (pcPNAs) for intracellular gene targeting at mixed sequence sites. Due to steric hindrance, pcPNAs are unable to form pcPNA–pcPNA duplexes but can bind to complementary DNA sequences by Watson–Crick pairing via double duplex-invasion complex formation. We show that psoralen-conjugated pcPNAs can deliver site-specific photoadducts and mediate targeted gene modification within both episomal and chromosomal DNA in mammalian cells without detectable off-target effects. Most of the induced psoralen-pcPNA mutations were single-base substitutions and deletions at the predicted pcPNA-binding sites. The pcPNA-directed mutagenesis was found to be dependent on PNA concentration and UVA dose and required matched pairs of pcPNAs. Neither of the individual pcPNAs alone had any effect nor did complementary PNA pairs of the same sequence. These results identify pcPNAs as new tools for site-specific gene modification in mammalian cells without purine sequence restriction, thereby providing a general strategy for designing gene targeting molecules.
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.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNA) mimic DNA and RNA by forming complementary duplex structures following Watson-Crick base pairing. A set of reporter compounds that bind to DNA by intercalation are known, but these compounds do not intercalate in PNA/DNA hybrid duplexes. Analysis of the hybrid PNA duplexes requires development of reporter compounds that probe their chemical and physical properties. We prepared a series of anthraquinone (AQ) derivatives that are linked to internal positions of a PNA oligomer. These are the first non-nucleobase functional groups that have been incorporated into a PNA. The resulting PNA(AQ) conjugates form stable hybrids with complementary DNA oligomers. We find that when the AQ groups are covalently bound to PNA that they stabilize the hybrid duplex and are, at least partially, intercalated.