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Org Biomol Chem. 2014 Sep 14;12(34):6624-33. doi: 10.1039/c4ob01132e.

Azide-alkyne cycloaddition for universal post-synthetic modifications of nucleic acids and effective synthesis of bioactive nucleic acid conjugates.

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Department of Medicinal and Applied Chemistry, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, 80708, Taiwan.


The regioselective post-synthetic modifications of nucleic acids are essential to studies of these molecules for science and applications. Here we report a facile universal approach by harnessing versatile phosphoramidation reactions to regioselectively incorporate alkynyl/azido groups into post-synthetic nucleic acids primed with phosphate at the 5' termini. With and without the presence of copper, the modified nucleic acids were subjected to azide-alkyne cycloaddition to afford various nucleic acid conjugates including a peptide-oligonucleotide conjugate (POC) with high yield. The POC was inoculated with human A549 cells and demonstrated excellent cell-penetrating ability despite cell deformation caused by a small amount of residual copper chelated to the POC. The combination of phosphoramidation and azide-alkyne cycloaddition reactions thus provides a universal regioselective strategy to post-synthetically modify nucleic acids. This study also explicated the toxicity of residual copper in synthesized bioconjugates destined for biological systems.

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