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Nucleic Acids Res. 1997 Nov 15;25(22):4429-43.

The ups and downs of nucleic acid duplex stability: structure-stability studies on chemically-modified DNA:RNA duplexes.

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Isis Pharmaceuticals, 2922 Faraday Avenue, Carlsbad, CA 92008, USA.


In an effort to discover novel oligonucleotide modifications for antisense therapeutics, we have prepared oligodeoxyribonucleotides containing more than 200 different modifications and measured their affinities for complementary RNA. These include modifications to the heterocyclic bases, the deoxy-ribose sugar and the phosphodiester linkage. From these results, we have been able to determine structure-activity relationships that correlate hybridization affinity with changes in oligonucleotide structure. Data for oligonucleotides containing modified pyrimidine nucleotides are presented. In general, modifications that resulted in the most stable duplexes contained a heteroatom at the 2'-position of the sugar. Other sugar modifications usually led to diminished hybrid stability. Most backbone modifications that led to improved hybridization restricted backbone mobility and resulted in an A-type sugar pucker for the residue 5'to the modified internucleotide linkage. Among the heterocycles, C-5-substituted pyrimidines stood out as substantially increasing duplex stability.

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