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Org Biomol Chem. 2015 Sep 21;13(35):9223-30. doi: 10.1039/c5ob01273b. Epub 2015 Jul 30.

Strand displacement and duplex invasion into double-stranded DNA by pyrrolidinyl peptide nucleic acids.

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Institute of Organic Chemistry, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Fritz-Haber-Weg 6, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany.


The so-called acpcPNA system bears a peptide backbone consisting of 4'-substituted proline units with (2'R,4'R) configuration in an alternating combination with (2S)-amino-cyclopentane-(1S)-carboxylic acids. acpcPNA forms exceptionally stable hybrids with complementary DNA. We demonstrate herein (i) strand displacements by single-stranded DNA from acpcPNA-DNA hybrids, and by acpcPNA strands from DNA duplexes, and (ii) strand invasions by acpcPNA into double-stranded DNA. These processes were studied in vitro using synthetic oligonucleotides and by means of our concept of wavelength-shifting fluorescent nucleic acid probes, including fluorescence lifetime measurements that allow quantifying energy transfer efficiencies. The strand displacements of preannealed 14mer acpcPNA-7mer DNA hybrids consecutively by 10mer and 14mer DNA strands occur with rather slow kinetics but yield high fluorescence color ratios (blue : yellow or blue : red), fluorescence intensity enhancements, and energy transfer efficiencies. Furthermore, 14mer acpcPNA strands are able to invade into 30mer double-stranded DNA, remarkably with quantitative efficiency in all studied cases. These processes can also be quantified by means of fluorescence. This remarkable behavior corroborates the extraordinary versatile properties of acpcPNA. In contrast to conventional PNA systems which require 3 or more equivalents PNA, only 1.5 equivalents acpcPNA are sufficient to get efficient double duplex invasion. Invasions also take place even in the presence of 250 mM NaCl which represents an ionic strength nearly twice as high as the physiological ion concentration. These remarkable results corroborate the extraordinary properties of acpcPNA, and thus acpcPNA represents an eligible tool for biological analytics and antigene applications.

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