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RNA. 2004 Apr;10(4):731-46.

Practical and general synthesis of 5'-adenylated RNA (5'-AppRNA).

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.


A simple strategy is reported for 5'-adenylation of nearly any RNA sequence of indefinite length. The 5'-adenylated product (5'-AppRNA) is an activated RNA that is structurally similar to 5'-triphosphorylated RNA, which is usually prepared by in vitro transcription using T7 RNA polymerase. In the new 5'-adenylation strategy, the RNA substrate is first 5'-monophosphorylated either by T4 polynucleotide kinase, by in vitro transcription in the presence of excess GMP, or by appropriate derivatization during solid-phase synthesis. The RNA is then 5'-adenylated using ATP and T4 RNA ligase, in an interrupted version of the natural adenylation-ligation mechanism by which T4 RNA ligase joins two RNA substrates. Here, the final ligation step of the mechanism is inhibited with complementary DNA blocking oligonucleotide(s) that permit adenylation to occur with good yield. The 5'-AppRNA products of this approach should be valuable as activated RNAs for in vitro selection experiments as an alternative to 5'-triphosphorylated RNAs, among other likely applications. The 5'-terminal nucleotide of an RNA substrate to be adenylated using the new method is not restricted to guanosine, in contrast to 5'-triphosphorylated RNA prepared by in vitro transcription. Therefore, using the new approach, essentially any RNA obtained from solid-phase synthesis or other means can be activated by 5'-adenylation in a practical manner.

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