Here we describe the first example of selective reductive amination in biological fluids using split aptamer proximity ligation (StAPL). Utilizing the cocaine split aptamer, we demonstrate small-molecule-dependent ligation that is dose-dependent over a wide range of target concentrations in buffer, human blood serum and artificial urine medium. We explore the substrate binding preferences of the split aptamer and find that the cinchona alkaloids quinine and quinidine bind to the aptamer with higher affinity than cocaine. This increased affinity leads to improved detection limits for these small-molecule targets. We also demonstrate that linker length and hydrophobicity impact the efficiency of split aptamer ligation. The ability to carry out selective chemical transformations using non-bioorthogonal chemistry in media where competing reactive groups are present highlights the power of the increased effective molarity provided by DNA assembly. Obviating the need for bioorthogonal chemistry would dramatically expand the repertoire of chemical transformations available for use in templated reactions such as proximity ligation assays, in turn enabling the development of novel methods for biomolecule detection.
DNA; reductive amination; split aptamer; templated reaction; bioorthogonal
We have developed an assay for single strand DNA or RNA detection which is based on the homo-DNA templated Staudinger reduction of the profluorophore rhodamine-azide. The assay is based on a three component system, consisting of a homo-DNA/DNA hybrid probe, a set of homo-DNA reporter strands and the target DNA or RNA. We present two different formats of the assay (Omega probe and linear probe) in which the linear probe was found to perform best with catalytic turnover of the reporter strands (TON: 8) and a match/mismatch discrimination of up to 19. The advantage of this system is that the reporting (homo-DNA) and sensing (DNA) domain are decoupled from each other since the two pairing systems are bioorthogonal. This allows independent optimization of either domain which may lead to higher selectivity in in vivo imaging.
homo-DNA; Staudinger reaction; RNA diagnostics; fluorescence sensing; oligonucleotides
Over the past decade, several technologies have emerged to access nucleic acid-tagged libraries and select the fittest compound within such libraries. This perspective focuses on recent development with PNA-tagged small molecules displayed on DNA templates for screening purposes and to probe the optimal geometry in multivalent interactions.
DNA display; PNA-encoded synthesis; cooperative binding; inhibitor; multivalent interaction; screen
Information storage capabilities are key in most aspects of society and the requirement for storage capacity is rapidly expanding. In principle, DNA could be a high-density medium for information storage. Church and coworkers recently demonstrated how binary data can be encoded, stored in, and retrieved from a library of oligonucleotides, increasing by several orders of magnitude the amount and density of manmade information stored in DNA to date. The technology remains in its infancy and important hurdles have yet to be overcome in order to realize its potential. However, DNA may be particularly useful as a storage-medium over long time-scales (centuries), because data-access is compatible with any large-scale DNA-sequencing and -synthesis technology.
DNA; information storage in DNA; bit; byte; binary encoding
This review highlights the recent methods to prepare PNA-based materials through a combination of self-assembly and self-organization processes. The use of these methods allows easy and versatile preparation of structured hybrid materials showing specific recognition properties and unique physicochemical properties at the nano- and micro-scale levels displaying potential applications in several directions, ranging from sensors and microarrays to nanostructured devices for biochips.
PNA; monolayers; nanoparticles; self-assembly; self-organisation; materials; surfaces; sensors; microarrays; biochips; DNA-PNA duplexes; hybridization
We are happy to publish this special issue dedicated to Prof. Rosangela Marchelli. This issue not only celebrates her long-standing scientific activity on occasion of her significant anniversary, but it is meant to recognize her contribution to Bioorganic Chemistry in the field of Artificial DNA, and in particular of Peptide Nucleic Acids.
The helix is a critical conformation exhibited by biological macromolecules and plays a key role in fundamental biological processes. Biological helical polymers exist in a single helical sense arising from the chiral effect of their primary units—for example, DNA and proteins adopt predominantly a right-handed helix conformation in response to the asymmetric conformational propensity of D-sugars and L-amino acids, respectively. In using these homochiral systems, nature blocks our observations of some fascinating aspects of the cooperativity in helical systems, although when useful for a specific purpose, “wrong” enantiomers may be incorporated in specific places. In synthetic helical systems, on the contrary, incorporation of non-racemic chirality is an additional burden, and the findings discussed in this review show that this burden may be considerably alleviated by taking advantage of the amplification of chirality, in which small chiral influences lead to large consequences. Peptide nucleic acid (PNA), which is a non-chiral synthetic DNA mimic, shows a cooperative response to a small chiral effect induced by a chiral amino acid, which is limited, however, due to the highly flexible nature of this oligomeric chimera. The lack of internal stereochemical bias is an important factor which makes PNA an ideal system to understand some cooperative features that are not directly accessible from DNA.
helix control; chiral amplification; cooperativity; helical polymers; PNA
The combined use of surface plasmon resonance (SPR) and modified or mimic oligonucleotides have expanded diagnostic capabilities of SPR-based biosensors and have allowed detailed studies of molecular recognition processes. This review summarizes the most significant advances made in this area over the past 15 years.
Functional and conformationally restricted DNA analogs (e.g., aptamers and PNAs) when used as components of SPR biosensors contribute to enhance the biosensor sensitivity and selectivity. At the same time, the SPR technology brings advantages that allows forbetter exploration of underlying properties of non-natural nucleic acid structures such us DNAzymes, LNA and HNA.
DNAzyme; LNA; PNA; SPR; aptamer; biosensors
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
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
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is one of the most widely used synthetic DNA analogs. Conjugation of functional molecules to PNA is very effective to further widen its potential applications. For this purpose, here we report the synthesis of several ligand monomers and introduced them to PNA. These ligand-modified PNAs attract cerium ion and are useful for site-selective DNA hydrolysis. It should be noted that these ligands on PNA are also effective even under the conditions of invasion complex.
cerium; DNA; hydrolysis; ligand; metal ion; peptide nucleic acid
A homothymine PNA decamer bearing four lysine residues has been synthesized as a probe for the development of amperometric sensors. On one hand, the four amino groups introduced make this derivative nine times more soluble than the corresponding homothymine PNA decamer and, on the other hand, allow the stable anchoring of this molecule on Au nanostructured surface through the terminal -NH2 moieties. In particular, XPS and electrochemical investigations performed with hexylamine, as a model molecule, indicate that the stable deposition of primary amine derivatives on such a nanostructured surface is possible and involves the free electron doublet on the nitrogen atom. This finding indicates that this PNA derivative is suitable to act as the probe molecule for the development of amperometric sensors.
Thanks to the molecular probe chosen and to the use of a nanostructured surface as the substrate for the sensor assembly, the device proposed makes possible the selective recognition of the target oligonucleotide sequence with very high sensitivity.
DNA recognition; PNA; amperometric genosensors; nanostructured surfaces; amine deposition
PNAs conjugated to carrier peptides have been employed for the targeting of miRNA precursor, with the aim to develop molecules able to interfere in the pre-miRNA processing. The capability of the molecules to bind pre-miRNA has been tested in vitro by fluorescence assayes on Thiazole Orange labeled molecules and in vivo, in K562 cells, evaluating the amount of miRNA produced after treatment of cells with two amounts of PNAs.
FACS; fluorescence; miR-210; PNA; pre-miR; thiazole orange
One of the clinical features of cystic fibrosis (CF) is a deep inflammatory process, which is characterized by production and release of cytokines and chemokines, among which interleukin 8 (IL-8) represents one of the most important. Accordingly, there is a growing interest in developing therapies against CF to reduce the excessive inflammatory response in the airways of CF patients. Since transcription factor NF-kappaB plays a critical role in IL-8 expression, the transcription factor decoy (TFD) strategy might be of interest. In order to demonstrate that TFD against NF-kappaB interferes with the NF-kappaB pathway we proved, by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) that treatment with TFD oligodeoxyribonucleotides of cystic fibrosis IB3–1 cells infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa leads to a decrease occupancy of the Il-8 gene promoter by NF-kappaB factors. In order to develop more stable therapeutic molecules, peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) based agents were considered. In this respect PNA-DNA-PNA (PDP) chimeras are molecules of great interest from several points of view: (1) they can be complexed with liposomes and microspheres; (2) they are resistant to DNases, serum and cytoplasmic extracts; (3) they are potent decoy molecules. By using electrophoretic mobility shift assay and RT-PCR analysis we have demonstrated that (1) the effects of PDP/PDP NF-kappaB decoy chimera on accumulation of pro-inflammatory mRNAs in P.aeruginosa infected IB3–1 cells reproduce that of decoy oligonucleotides; in particular (2) the PDP/PDP chimera is a strong inhibitor of IL-8 gene expression; (3) the effect of PDP/PDP chimeras, unlike those of ODN-based decoys, are observed even in the absence of protection with lipofectamine. These informations are of great impact, in our opinion, for the development of stable molecules to be used in non-viral gene therapy of cystic fibrosis.
NF-kappaB; transcription factor decoy; inflammation; Peptide Nucleic Acids; PNA-DNA chimeras
The recent claim by Wolfe-Simon et al. that the Halomonas bacterial strain GFAJ-1 when grown in arsenate-containing medium with limiting phosphate is able to substitute phosphate with arsenate in biomolecules including nucleic acids and in particular DNA1 arose much skepticism, primarily due to the very limited chemical stability of arsenate esters (see ref. 2 and references therein). A major part of the criticisms was concerned with the insufficient (bio)chemical evidence in the Wolfe-Simon study for the actual chemical incorporation of arsenate in DNA (and/or RNA). Redfield et al. now present evidence that the identification of arsenate DNA was artifactual.
arsenate; bacteria; DNA; genetic material; life
We describe the first enzymatic incorporation of an α-L-LNA nucleotide into an oligonucleotide. It was found that the 5′-triphosphate of α-L-LNA is a substrate for the DNA polymerases KOD, 9°Nm, Phusion and HIV RT. Three dispersed α-L-LNA thymine nucleotides can be incorporated into DNA strands by all four polymerases, but they were unable to perform consecutive incorporations of α-L-LNA nucleotides. In addition it was found that primer extension can be achieved using templates containing one α-L-LNA nucleotide.
enzymatic synthesis; modified nucleotide; polymerase; triphosphate; α-L-LNA
Efficient intracellular delivery is essential for high activity of nucleic acids based therapeutics, including antisense agents. Several strategies have been developed and practically all rely on auxiliary transfection reagents such as cationic lipids, cationic polymers and cell penetrating peptides as complexing agents and carriers of the nucleic acids. However, uptake mechanisms remain rather poorly understood, and protocols always require optimization of transfection parameters. Considering that cationic transfection complexes bind to and thus may up-concentrate on the cell surface, we have now quantitatively compared the cellular activity (in the pLuc705 HeLa cell splice correction system) of PNA antisense oligomers using lipoplex delivery of cholesterol- and bisphosphonate-PNA conjugates, polyplex delivery via a PNA-polyethyleneimine conjugate and CPP delivery via a PNA-octaarginine conjugate upon varying the cell culture transfection volume (and cell density) at fixed PNA concentration. The results show that for all delivery modalities the cellular antisense activity increases (less than proportionally) with increasing volume (in some cases accompanied with increased toxicity), and that this effect is more pronounced at higher cell densities. These results emphasize that transfection efficacy using cationic carriers is critically dependent on parameters such as transfection volume and cell density, and that these must be taken into account when comparing different delivery regimes.
antisense; cellular delivery; lipoplex; octaarginine (CPP); peptide nucleic acid (PNA); polyethyleneimine (PEI)
A DNA capsule fitted with aptamer controlled target sensing has been “woven” using a 7308-base single-stranded DNA “thread” and 196 staple oligonucleotides. The capsule enables logic-gated molecular cargo delivery to targeted cell surfaces.
aptamer; delivery; DNA origami; nanocapsule; nanoscience
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.
(α,α-dimethyl)glycyl PNA; gem-dimethylglycyl PNA; peptide nucleic acid; PNA-DNA binding; sterically constrained PNA analog; α-aminoisobutyric acid PNA
A recent paper in Science by Li et al. 20111 reports widespread sequence differences in the human transcriptome between RNAs and their encoding genes termed RNA-DNA differences (RDDs). The findings could add a new layer of complexity to gene expression but the study has been criticized.
gene expression; RNA editing; RNA-DNA differences; transcription; transcriptome
Efficient cell delivery of antisense oligonucleotides (ONs) is a key issue for their potential therapeutic use. It has been shown recently that some ONs can be delivered into cells without the use of transfection agents (gymnosis), but this generally requires cell incubation over several days and high amounts of ONs (micromolar concentrations). Here we have targeted microRNA 122 (miR-122), a small non-coding RNA involved in regulation of lipid metabolism and in the replication of hepatitis C virus, with ONs of different chemistries (anti-miRs) by gymnotic delivery in cell culture. Using a sensitive dual-luciferase reporter assay, anti-miRs were screened for their ability to enter liver cells gymnotically and inhibit miR-122 activity. Efficient miR-122 inhibition was obtained with cationic PNAs and 2'-O-methyl (OMe) and Locked Nucleic Acids (LNA)/OMe mixmers containing either phosphodiester (PO) or phosphorothioate (PS) linkages at sub-micromolar concentrations when incubated with cells for just 4 hours. Furthermore, PNA and PS-containing anti-miRs were able to sustain miR-122 inhibitory effects for at least 4 days. LNA/OMe PS anti-miRs were the most potent anti-miR chemistry tested in this study, an ON chemistry that has been little exploited so far as anti-miR agents towards therapeutics.
2’-O-Methyl; anti-miR; delivery; Gymnosis; Locked Nucleic Acids; miR-122; miRNA; Peptide Nucleic Acids; phosphorothioate; transfection
Aminoalkyl and alkyne-tagged PNA HyBeacons have been synthesized, labeled with fluorescein via conventional amide bond or triazole formation (click chemistry) and used to detect single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) implicated in statin-induced myopathy. The PNA HyBeacons gave much better mismatch/mutant discrimination than conventional DNA HyBeacons but smaller fluorescence changes on melting.
fluorescence melting; genetic analysis; HyBeacon; PNA; SNPs; statin-induced myopathy
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.
antisense; carrier; cell penetrating peptide (CPP); cellular delivery; peptide nucleic acid (PNA); siRNA