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1.  Base pair opening kinetics study of the aegPNA:DNA hydrid duplex containing a site-specific GNA-like chiral PNA monomer 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(16):7329-7335.
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.
PMCID: PMC3167616  PMID: 21586589
2.  Subnanomolar antisense activity of phosphonate-peptide nucleic acid (PNA) conjugates delivered by cationic lipids to HeLa cells 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(13):4424-4432.
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.
PMCID: PMC2490735  PMID: 18596083
3.  Non-Watson–Crick interactions between PNA and DNA inhibit the ATPase activity of bacteriophage T4 Dda helicase 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(4):950-957.
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.
PMCID: PMC100347  PMID: 11842106
4.  Incorporation of thio-pseudoisocytosine into triplex-forming peptide nucleic acids for enhanced recognition of RNA duplexes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(6):4008-4018.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) have been developed for applications in biotechnology and therapeutics. There is great potential in the development of chemically modified PNAs or other triplex-forming ligands that selectively bind to RNA duplexes, but not single-stranded regions, at near-physiological conditions. Here, we report on a convenient synthesis route to a modified PNA monomer, thio-pseudoisocytosine (L), and binding studies of PNAs incorporating the monomer L. Thermal melting and gel electrophoresis studies reveal that L-incorporated 8-mer PNAs have superior affinity and specificity in recognizing the duplex region of a model RNA hairpin to form a pyrimidine motif major-groove RNA2–PNA triplex, without appreciable binding to single-stranded regions to form an RNA–PNA duplex or, via strand invasion, forming an RNA–PNA2 triplex at near-physiological buffer condition. In addition, an L-incorporated 8-mer PNA shows essentially no binding to single-stranded or double-stranded DNA. Furthermore, an L-modified 6-mer PNA, but not pseudoisocytosine (J) modified or unmodified PNA, binds to the HIV-1 programmed −1 ribosomal frameshift stimulatory RNA hairpin at near-physiological buffer conditions. The stabilization of an RNA2–PNA triplex by L modification is facilitated by enhanced van der Waals contacts, base stacking, hydrogen bonding and reduced dehydration energy. The destabilization of RNA–PNA and DNA–PNA duplexes by L modification is due to the steric clash and loss of two hydrogen bonds in a Watson–Crick-like G–L pair. An RNA2–PNA triplex is significantly more stable than a DNA2–PNA triplex, probably because the RNA duplex major groove provides geometry compatibility and favorable backbone–backbone interactions with PNA. Thus, L-modified triplex-forming PNAs may be utilized for sequence-specifically targeting duplex regions in RNAs for biological and therapeutic applications.
PMCID: PMC3973316  PMID: 24423869
5.  Synthesis and evaluation of some properties of chimeric oligomers containing PNA and phosphono-PNA residues. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1998;26(2):566-575.
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.
PMCID: PMC147292  PMID: 9421517
6.  Antiproliferative effect in chronic myeloid leukaemia cells by antisense peptide nucleic acids 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(17):3712-3721.
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.
PMCID: PMC137404  PMID: 12202756
7.  Inhibiting Gene Expression with Peptide Nucleic Acid (PNA)–Peptide Conjugates that Target Chromosomal DNA 
Biochemistry  2007;46(25):7581-7589.
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.
PMCID: PMC2564818  PMID: 17536840
8.  Hydroxyproline-based DNA mimics provide an efficient gene silencing in vitro and in vivo 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(8):2247-2257.
To be effective, antisense molecules should be stable in biological fluids, non-toxic, form stable and specific duplexes with target RNAs and readily penetrate through cell membranes without non-specific effects on cell function. We report herein that negatively charged DNA mimics representing chiral analogues of peptide nucleic acids with a constrained trans-4-hydroxy-N-acetylpyrrolidine-2-phosphonate backbone (pHypNAs) meet these criteria. To demonstrate this, we compared silencing potency of these compounds with that of previously evaluated as efficient gene knockdown molecules hetero-oligomers consisting of alternating phosphono-PNA monomers and PNA-like monomers based on trans-4-hydroxy-L-proline (HypNA-pPNAs). Antisense potential of pHypNA mimics was confirmed in a cell-free translation assay with firefly luciferase as well as in a living cell assay with green fluorescent protein. In both cases, the pHypNA antisense oligomers provided a specific knockdown of a target protein production. Confocal microscopy showed that pHypNAs, when transfected into living cells, demonstrated efficient cellular uptake with distribution in the cytosol and nucleus. Also, the high potency of pHypNAs for down-regulation of Ras-like GTPase Ras-dva in Xenopus embryos was demonstrated in comparison with phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers. Therefore, our data suggest that pHypNAs are novel antisense agents with potential widespread in vitro and in vivo applications in basic research involving live cells and intact organisms.
PMCID: PMC1456331  PMID: 16670431
9.  Site-directed gene mutation at mixed sequence targets by psoralen-conjugated pseudo-complementary peptide nucleic acids 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(22):7604-7613.
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.
PMCID: PMC2190703  PMID: 17977869
10.  Peptide nucleic acids inhibit growth of Brucella suis in pure culture and in infected murine macrophages 
International journal of antimicrobial agents  2013;41(4):10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2012.11.017.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) are single-stranded, synthetic nucleic acid analogues containing a pseudopeptide backbone in place of the phosphodiester sugar–phosphate. When PNAs are covalently linked to cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) they readily penetrate the bacterial cell envelope, inhibit expression of targeted genes and cause growth inhibition both of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. However, the effectiveness of PNAs against Brucella, a facultative intracellular bacterial pathogen, was unknown. The susceptibility of a virulent Brucella suis strain to a variety of PNAs was assessed in pure culture as well as in murine macrophages. The studies showed that some of the PNAs targeted to Brucella genes involved in DNA (polA, dnaG, gyrA), RNA (rpoB), cell envelope (asd), fatty acid (kdtA, acpP) and protein (tsf) synthesis inhibit the growth of B. suis in culture and in macrophages after 24 h of treatment. PNA treatment inhibited Brucella growth by interfering with gene expression in a sequence-specific and dose-dependent manner at micromolar concentrations. The most effective PNA in broth culture was that targeting polA at ca. 12 μM. In contrast, in B. suis-infected macrophages, the most effective PNAs were those targeting asd and dnaG at 30 μM; both of these PNAs had little inhibitory effect on Brucella in broth culture. The polA PNA that inhibits wild-type B. suis also inhibits the growth of wild-type Brucella melitensis 16M and Brucella abortus 2308 in culture. This study reveals the potential usefulness of antisense PNA constructs as novel therapeutic agents against intracellular Brucella.
PMCID: PMC3834731  PMID: 23305655
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA); Brucella; Antibiotic resistance; Antisense; Murine macrophage
11.  Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) cell penetrating peptide (CPP) conjugates as carriers for cellular delivery of antisense oligomers 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2011;2(3):90-99.
We have explored the merits of a novel delivery strategy for the antisense oligomers based on cell penetrating peptide (CPP) conjugated to a carrier PNA with sequence complementary to part of the antisense oligomer. The effect of these carrier CPP-PNAs was evaluated by using antisense PNA targeting splicing correction of the mutated luciferase gene in the HeLa pLuc705 cell line, reporting cellular (nuclear) uptake of the antisense PNA via luciferase activity measurement. Carrier CPP-PNA constructs were studied in terms of construct modification (with octaarginine and/or decanoic acid) and carrier PNA length (to adjust binding affinity). In general, the carrier CPP-PNA constructs including the ones with decanoyl modification provided significant increase of the activity of unmodified antisense PNA as well as of antisense octaarginine-PNA conjugates. Antisense activity, and by inference cellular delivery, of unmodified antisense PNA was enhanced at least 20-fold at 6 μM upon the complexation with an equimolar amount of nonamer carrier decanoyl-CPP-PNA (Deca-cPNA1(9)-(D-Arg)8). The antisense activity of a CPP-PNA ((D-Arg)8-asPNA) (at 2 μM) was improved 6-fold and 8-fold by a heptamer carrier CPP-PNA (cPNA1(7)-(D-Arg)8) and hexamer carrier decanoyl-CPP-PNA (Deca-cPNA1(6)-(D-Arg)8), respectively, without showing significant additional cellular toxicity. Most interestingly, the activity reached the same level obtained by enhancement with endosomolytic chloroquine (CQ) treatment, suggesting that the carrier might facilitate endosomal escape. Furthermore, 50% downregulation of luciferase expression at 60 nM siRNA was obtained using this carrier CPP-PNA delivery strategy (with CQ co-treatment) for a single stranded antisense RNA targeting normal luciferase mRNA. These results indicated that CPP-PNA carriers may be used as effective cellular delivery vectors for different types of antisense oligomers and also allows use of combinations of (at least two) different CPP ligands.
PMCID: PMC3324339  PMID: 22567192
antisense; carrier; cell penetrating peptide (CPP); cellular delivery; peptide nucleic acid (PNA); siRNA
12.  Antisense properties of duplex- and triplex-forming PNAs. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1996;24(3):494-500.
The potential of peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) as specific inhibitors of translation has been studied. PNAs with a mixed purine/pyrimidine sequence form duplexes, while homopyrimidine PNAs form (PNA)2/RNA triplexes with complementary sequences on RNA. We show here that neither of these PNA/RNA structures are substrates for RNase H. Translation experiments in cell-free extracts showed that a 15mer duplex-forming PNA blocked translation in a dose-dependent manner when the target was 5'-proximal to the AUG start codon on the RNA, whereas similar 10-, 15- or 20mer PNAs had no effect when targeted towards sequences in the coding region. Triplex-forming 10mer PNAs were efficient and specific antisense agents with a target overlapping the AUG start codon and caused arrest of ribosome elongation with a target positioned in the coding region of the mRNA. Furthermore, translation could be blocked with a 6mer bisPNA or with a clamp PNA, forming partly a triplex, partly a duplex, with its target sequence in the coding region of the mRNA.
PMCID: PMC145651  PMID: 8602363
13.  DNA assembly using bis-peptide nucleic acids (bisPNAs) 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(13):2782-2789.
DNA nanostructures are ordered oligonucleotide arrangements that have applications for DNA computers, crystallography, diagnostics and material sciences. Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is a DNA/RNA mimic that offers many advantages for hybridization, but its potential for application in the field of DNA nanotechnology has yet to be thoroughly examined. We report the synthesis and characterization of tethered PNA molecules (bisPNAs) designed to assemble two individual DNA molecules through Watson–Crick base pairing. The spacer regions linking the PNAs were varied in length and contained amino acids with different electrostatic properties. We observed that bisPNAs effectively assembled oligonucleotides that were either the exact length of the PNA or that contained overhanging regions that projected outwards. In contrast, DNA assembly was much less efficient if the oligonucleotides contained overhanging regions that projected inwards. Surprisingly, the length of the spacer region between the PNA sequences did not greatly affect the efficiency of DNA assembly. Reasons for inefficient assembly of inward projecting DNA oligonucleotides include non-sequence-specific intramolecular interactions between the overhanging region of the bisPNA and steric conflicts that complicate simultaneous binding of two inward projecting strands. These results suggest that bisPNA molecules can be used for self-assembling DNA nanostructures provided that the arrangement of the hybridizing DNA oligonucleotides does not interfere with simultaneous hybridization to the bisPNA molecule.
PMCID: PMC117044  PMID: 12087161
14.  Targeted correction of a thalassemia-associated β-globin mutation induced by pseudo-complementary peptide nucleic acids 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;37(11):3635-3644.
β-Thalassemia is a genetic disorder caused by mutations in the β-globin gene. Triplex-forming oligonucleotides and triplex-forming peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) have been shown to stimulate recombination in mammalian cells via site-specific binding and creation of altered helical structures that provoke DNA repair. However, the use of these molecules for gene targeting requires homopurine tracts to facilitate triple helix formation. Alternatively, to achieve binding to mixed-sequence target sites for the induced gene correction, we have used pseudo-complementary PNAs (pcPNAs). Due to steric hindrance, pcPNAs are unable to form pcPNA–pcPNA duplexes but can bind to complementary DNA sequences via double duplex-invasion complexes. We demonstrate here that pcPNAs, when co-transfected with donor DNA fragments, can promote single base pair modification at the start of the second intron of the beta-globin gene. This was detected by the restoration of proper splicing of transcripts produced from a green fluorescent protein-beta globin fusion gene. We also demonstrate that pcPNAs are effective in stimulating recombination in human fibroblast cells in a manner dependent on the nucleotide excision repair factor, XPA. These results suggest that pcPNAs can be effective tools to induce heritable, site-specific modification of disease-related genes in human cells without purine sequence restriction.
PMCID: PMC2699504  PMID: 19364810
15.  Modulation of mdm2 pre-mRNA splicing by 9-aminoacridine-PNA (peptide nucleic acid) conjugates targeting intron-exon junctions 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:342.
Modulation of pre-mRNA splicing by antisense molecules is a promising mechanism of action for gene therapeutic drugs. In this study, we have examined the potential of peptide nucleic acid (PNA) 9-aminoacridine conjugates to modulate the pre-mRNA splicing of the mdm2 human cancer gene in JAR cells.
We screened 10 different 15 mer PNAs targeting intron2 at both the 5' - and the 3'-splice site for their effects on the splicing of mdm2 using RT-PCR analysis. We also tested a PNA (2512) targeting the 3'-splice site of intron3 with a complementarity of 4 bases to intron3 and 11 bases to exon4 for its splicing modulation effect. This PNA2512 was further tested for the effects on the mdm2 protein level as well as for inhibition of cell growth in combination with the DNA damaging agent camptothecin (CPT).
We show that several of these PNAs effectively inhibit the splicing thereby producing a larger mRNA still containing intron2, while skipping of exon3 was not observed by any of these PNAs. The most effective PNA (PNA2406) targeting the 3'-splice site of intron2 had a complementarity of 4 bases to intron2 and 11 bases to exon3. PNA (2512) targeting the 3'-splice site of intron3 induced both splicing inhibition (intron3 skipping) and skipping of exon4. Furthermore, treatment of JAR cells with this PNA resulted in a reduction in the level of MDM2 protein and a concomitant increase in the level of tumor suppressor p53. In addition, a combination of this PNA with CPT inhibited cell growth more than CPT alone.
We have identified several PNAs targeting the 5'- or 3'-splice sites in intron2 or the 3'-splice site of intron3 of mdm2 pre-mRNA which can inhibit splicing. Antisense targeting of splice junctions of mdm2 pre-mRNA may be a powerful method to evaluate the cellular function of MDM2 splice variants as well as a promising approach for discovery of mdm2 targeted anticancer drugs.
PMCID: PMC2910690  PMID: 20591158
16.  A peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is more rapidly internalized in cultured neurons when coupled to a retro-inverso delivery peptide. The antisense activity depresses the target mRNA and protein in magnocellular oxytocin neurons. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1998;26(21):4910-4916.
A peptide nucleic acid (PNA) antisense for the AUG translation initiation region of prepro-oxytocin mRNA was synthesized and coupled to a r etro-inverso peptide that is rapidly taken up by cells. This bioconjugate was internalized by cultured cerebral cortex neurons within minutes, according to the specific property of the vector peptide. The PNA alone also entered the cells, but more slowly. Cell viability was unaffected when the PNA concentrations were lower than 10 microM and incubation times less than for 24 h. Magnocellular neurons from the hypothalamic supraoptic nucleus, which produce oxytocin and vasopressin, were cultured in chemically defined medium. Both PNA and vector peptide-PNA depressed the amounts of the mRNA coding for prepro-oxytocin in these neurons. A scrambled PNA had no effect and the very cognate prepro-vasopressin mRNA was not affected. The antisense PNA also depressed the immunocytochemical signal for prepro-oxytocin in this culture in a dose- and time-dependent manner. These results show that PNAs driven by the retro-inverso vector peptide are powerful antisense reagents for use on cells in culture.
PMCID: PMC147921  PMID: 9776752
17.  Efficient in vitro inhibition of HIV-1 gag reverse transcription by peptide nucleic acid (PNA) at minimal ratios of PNA/RNA. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1997;25(11):2167-2173.
We have tested the inhibitory potential of peptide nucleic acid (PNA) on in vitro reverse transcription of the HIV-1 gag gene. PNA was designed to target different regions of the HIV-1 gag gene and the effect on reverse transcription by HIV-1, MMLV and AMV reverse transcriptases (RTs) was investigated. We found that a bis-PNA (parallel antisense 10mer linked to antiparallel antisense 10mer) was superior to both the parallel antisense 10mer and antiparallel antisense 10mer in inhibiting reverse transcription of the gene, thus indicating triplex formation at the target sequence. A complete arrest of reverse transcription was obtained at approximately 6-fold molar excess of the bis-PNA with respect to the gag RNA. At this molar ratio we found no effect on in vitro translation of gag RNA. A 15mer duplex-forming PNA was also found to inhibit reverse transcription at very low molar ratios of PNA/ gag RNA. Specificity of the inhibition of reverse transcription by PNA was confirmed by RNA sequencing, which revealed that all tested RTs were stopped by the PNA/RNA complex at the predicted site. We propose that the effect of PNA is exclusively due to steric hindrance, as we found no signs of RNA degradation that would indicate PNA-mediated RNase H activation of the tested RTs. In conclusion, PNA appears to have a potential to become a specific and efficient inhibitor of reverse transcription in vivo , provided sufficient intracellular levels are achievable.
PMCID: PMC146729  PMID: 9153317
18.  Biotinylated Probe Isolation of Targeted Gene Region Improves Detection of T790M Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Mutation via Peptide Nucleic Acid–Enriched Real-Time PCR 
Clinical chemistry  2011;57(5):770-773.
The presence of the EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) T790M mutation in tumor tissue or body fluids from patients treated with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors may indicate the onset of resistance to treatment. It is important to identify this mutation as early as possible so that treatment can be modified accordingly or potential side effects of further treatment can be avoided. This requirement calls for high detection sensitivity. Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) are used as PCR clamps to inhibit amplification of wild-type DNA during PCR cycling, thereby enriching for rare mutations such as T790M. We describe a modification that improves the detection limit of PNA-clamp methods by at least 20-fold.
We enriched the target by exposing genomic DNA to an EGFR exon 20–specific biotinylated oligo-nucleotide, followed by binding to streptavidin beads. We then prepared serial dilutions of the isolated target DNA containing the T790M mutation by mixing with wild-type DNA and then performed PNA clamp–based, real-time TaqMan PCR. For comparison, we performed PNA clamp–based PCR directly on genomic DNA.
Whereas the detection limit for PNA clamp–based PCR performed directly on genomic DNA is 1 mutant allele in 1000 wild-type alleles, conducting the assay with biotinylated oligonucleotide–enriched target DNA improved the detection limit to 1 mutant allele in 40 000 wild-type alleles. A possible explanation for the improvement in detection is that biotin-based target isolation efficiently eliminates wild-type DNA; therefore, fewer erroneous amplifications of wild-type DNA can occur early during the PCR.
Combining target molecule isolation via a biotinylated probe with PNA-enriched TaqMan real-time PCR provides a major improvement for detecting the EGFR T790M resistance mutation.
PMCID: PMC3208327  PMID: 21325655
19.  Oxacillin sensitization of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius by antisense peptide nucleic acids in vitro 
BMC Microbiology  2015;15:262.
Antibiotic resistance genes can be targeted by antisense agents, which can reduce their expression and thus restore cellular susceptibility to existing antibiotics. Antisense inhibitors can be gene and pathogen specific, or designed to inhibit a group of bacteria having conserved sequences within resistance genes. Here, we aimed to develop antisense peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) that could be used to effectively restore susceptibility to β-lactams in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (MRSP).
Antisense PNAs specific for conserved regions of the mobilisable gene mecA, and the growth essential gene, ftsZ, were designed. Clinical MRSA and MRSP strains of high oxacillin resistance were treated with PNAs and assayed for reduction in colony forming units on oxacillin plates, reduction in target gene mRNA levels, and cell size. Anti-mecA PNA at 7.5 and 2.5 μM reduced mecA mRNA in MRSA and MRSP (p < 0.05). At these PNA concentrations, 66 % of MRSA and 92 % of MRSP cells were killed by oxacillin (p < 0.01). Anti-ftsZ PNA at 7.5 and 2.5 μM reduced ftsZ mRNA in MRSA and MRSP, respectively (p ≤ 0.05). At these PNA concentrations, 86 % of MRSA cells and 95 % of MRSP cells were killed by oxacillin (p < 0.05). Anti-ftsZ PNAs resulted in swelling of bacterial cells. Scrambled PNA controls did not affect MRSA but sensitized MRSP moderately to oxacillin without affecting mRNA levels.
The antisense PNAs effects observed provide in vitro proof of concept that this approach can be used to reverse β-lactam resistance in staphylococci. Further studies are warranted as clinical treatment alternatives are needed.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-015-0599-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4642645  PMID: 26560174
Antisense; mecA; ftsZ; MRSA; Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius
20.  Strand invasion by mixed base PNAs and a PNA–peptide chimera 
Nucleic Acids Research  2000;28(17):3332-3338.
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.
PMCID: PMC110698  PMID: 10954602
21.  (α,α-dimethyl)glycyl (dmg) PNAs 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2012;3(1):5-13.
The design and facile synthesis of sterically constrained new analogs of PNA having gem-dimethyl substitutions on glycine (dmg-PNA-T) is presented. The PNA oligomers [aminoethyl dimethylglycyl (aedmg) and aminopropyl dimethylglycyl (apdmg)] synthesized from the monomers 6 and 12) effected remarkable stabilization of homothyminePNA2:homoadenine DNA/RNA triplexes and mixed base sequence duplexes with target cDNA or RNA. They show a higher binding to DNA relative to that with isosequential RNA. This may be a structural consequence of the sterically rigid gem-dimethyl group, imposing a pre-organized conformation favorable for complex formation with cDNA. The results complement our previous work that had demonstrated that cyclohexanyl-PNAs favor binding with cRNA compared with cDNA and imply that the biophysical and structural properties of PNAs can be directed by introduction of the right rigidity in PNA backbone devoid of chirality. This approach of tweaking selectivity in binding of PNA constructs by installing gem-dimethyl substitution in PNA backbone can be extended to further fine-tuning by similar substitution in the aminoethyl segment as well either individually or in conjunction with present substitution.
PMCID: PMC3368815  PMID: 22679528
(α,α-dimethyl)glycyl PNA; gem-dimethylglycyl PNA; peptide nucleic acid; PNA-DNA binding; sterically constrained PNA analog; α-aminoisobutyric acid PNA
22.  Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) binding and its effect on in vitro transcription in Friedreich’s ataxia triplet repeats 
Molecular carcinogenesis  2009;48(4):299-308.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) are DNA mimics in which peptide-like linkages are substituted for the phosphodiester backbone. Homopyrimidine PNAs can invade double-stranded DNA containing the homologous sequence by displacing the homopyrimidine strand from the DNA duplex and forming a PNA/DNA/PNA triplex with the complementary homopurine strand. Among biologically interesting targets for triplex-forming PNA are (GAA/CTT)n repeats. Expansion of these repeats results in partial inhibition of transcription in the frataxin gene, 5causing Friedreich’s ataxia. We have studied PNA binding and its effect on T7 RNA polymerase transcription in vitro for short repeats (n=3) and for long repeats (n=39), placed in both possible orientations relative to the T7 promoter such that either the GAA-strand, or the CTT-strand serves as the template for transcription. In all cases PNA bound specifically and efficiently to its target sequence. For the short insert, PNA binding to the template strand caused partial transcription blockage with well-defined sites of RNA product truncation in the region of the PNA-binding sequence, whereas binding to the non-template strand did not block transcription. However, PNA binding to long repeats, whether in the template or the non-template strand, resulted in a dramatic reduction of the amount of full-length transcription product, although in the case of the non-template strand there were no predominant truncation sites. Biological implications of these results are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2664860  PMID: 19306309
23.  End invasion of peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) with mixed-base composition into linear DNA duplexes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(17):e146.
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.
PMCID: PMC1243805  PMID: 16204449
24.  Inhibition of Growth and Gene Expression by PNA-peptide Conjugates in Streptococcus pyogenes 
While Streptococcus pyogenes is consistently susceptible toward penicillin, therapeutic failure of penicillin treatment has been reported repeatedly and a considerable number of patients exhibit allergic reactions to this substance. At the same time, streptococcal resistance to alternative antibiotics, e.g., macrolides, has increased. Taken together, these facts demand the development of novel therapeutic strategies. In this study, S. pyogenes growth was inhibited by application of peptide-conjugated antisense-peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) specific for the essential gyrase A gene (gyrA). Thereby, HIV-1 Tat peptide-coupled PNAs were more efficient inhibitors of streptococcal growth as compared with (KFF)3K-coupled PNAs. Peptide-anti-gyrA PNAs decreased the abundance of gyrA transcripts in S. pyogenes. Growth inhibition by antisense interference was enhanced by combination of peptide-coupled PNAs with protein-level inhibitors. Antimicrobial synergy could be detected with levofloxacin and novobiocin, targeting the gyrase enzyme, and with spectinomycin, impeding ribosomal function. The prospective application of carrier peptide-coupled antisense PNAs in S. pyogenes covers the use as an antimicrobial agent and the employment as a knock-down strategy for the investigation of virulence factor function.
PMCID: PMC3889189  PMID: 24193033
antimicrobial; antisense; cell-penetrating peptides; HIV-1 peptide; PNA; Streptococcus pyogenes
25.  In Situ Synthesis of Peptide Nucleic Acids in Porous Silicon for Drug Delivery and Biosensing 
Bioconjugate Chemistry  2014;25(7):1192-1197.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNA) are a unique class of synthetic molecules that have a peptide backbone and can hybridize with nucleic acids. Here, a versatile method has been developed for the automated, in situ synthesis of PNA from a porous silicon (PSi) substrate for applications in gene therapy and biosensing. Nondestructive optical measurements were performed to monitor single base additions of PNA initiated from (3-aminopropyl)triethoxysilane attached to the surface of PSi films, and mass spectrometry was conducted to verify synthesis of the desired sequence. Comparison of in situ synthesis to postsynthesis surface conjugation of the full PNA molecules showed that surface mediated, in situ PNA synthesis increased loading 8-fold. For therapeutic proof-of-concept, controlled PNA release from PSi films was characterized in phosphate buffered saline, and PSi nanoparticles fabricated from PSi films containing in situ grown PNA complementary to micro-RNA (miR) 122 generated significant anti-miR activity in a Huh7 psiCHECK-miR122 cell line. The applicability of this platform for biosensing was also demonstrated using optical measurements that indicated selective hybridization of complementary DNA target molecules to PNA synthesized in situ on PSi films. These collective data confirm that we have established a novel PNA–PSi platform with broad utility in drug delivery and biosensing.
PMCID: PMC4103755  PMID: 24949894

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