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Methods. 2019 Mar 21. pii: S1046-2023(18)30274-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2019.03.018. [Epub ahead of print]

Chemical methods for the modification of RNA.

Author information

1
Institut Pasteur, Department of Structural Biology and Chemistry, Laboratory for Bioorganic Chemistry of Nucleic Acids, CNRS UMR3523, 28, rue du Docteur Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France; Sorbonne Université, Collège doctoral, F-75005 Paris, France.
2
Institut Pasteur, Department of Structural Biology and Chemistry, Laboratory for Bioorganic Chemistry of Nucleic Acids, CNRS UMR3523, 28, rue du Docteur Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France.
3
Institut Pasteur, Department of Structural Biology and Chemistry, Laboratory for Bioorganic Chemistry of Nucleic Acids, CNRS UMR3523, 28, rue du Docteur Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France. Electronic address: marcel.hollenstein@pasteur.fr.

Abstract

RNA is often considered as being the vector for the transmission of genetic information from DNA to the protein synthesis machinery. However, besides translation RNA participates in a broad variety of fundamental biological roles such as gene expression and regulation, protein synthesis, and even catalysis of chemical reactions. This variety of function combined with intricate three-dimensional structures and the discovery of over 100 chemical modifications in natural RNAs require chemical methods for the modification of RNAs in order to investigate their mechanism, location, and exact biological roles. In addition, numerous RNA-based tools such as ribozymes, aptamers, or therapeutic oligonucleotides require the presence of additional chemical functionalities to strengthen the nucleosidic backbone against degradation or enhance the desired catalytic or binding properties. Herein, the two main methods for the chemical modification of RNA are presented: solid-phase synthesis using phosphoramidite precursors and the enzymatic polymerization of nucleoside triphosphates. The different synthetic and biochemical steps required for each method are carefully described and recent examples of practical applications based on these two methods are discussed.

KEYWORDS:

Modified nucleotides; Mutant T7 RNA polymerases; Phosphoramidites; Phosphorothioates; RNA aptamers; RNA solid-phase synthesis; SELEX; Sugar-base modifications

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