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Biochemistry. 2011 May 17;50(19):3913-8. doi: 10.1021/bi2002554. Epub 2011 Apr 25.

Strand invasion of mixed-sequence, double-helical B-DNA by γ-peptide nucleic acids containing G-clamp nucleobases under physiological conditions.

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Department of Chemistry and Center for Nucleic Acids Science and Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, United States.


Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) make up the only class of nucleic acid mimics developed to date that has been shown to be capable of invading double-helical B-form DNA. Recently, we showed that sequence limitation associated with PNA recognition can be relaxed by utilizing conformationally preorganized γ-peptide nucleic acids (γPNAs). However, like all the previous studies, with the exception of triplex binding, DNA strand invasion was performed at relatively low salt concentrations. When physiological ionic strengths were used, little to no binding was observed. On the basis of this finding, it was not clear whether the lack of binding is due to the lack of base pair opening or the lack of binding free energy, either of which would result in no productive binding. In this work, we show that it is the latter. Under simulated physiological conditions, the DNA double helix is sufficiently dynamic to permit strand invasion by the designer oligonucleotide molecules provided that the required binding free energy can be met. This finding has important implications for the design oligonucleotides for recognition of B-DNA via direct Watson-Crick base pairing.

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