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Inorg Chem. 2011 Dec 5;50(23):11929-37. doi: 10.1021/ic200855p. Epub 2011 Nov 7.

Coordination-driven inversion of handedness in ligand-modified PNA.

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Department of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University, 4400 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213-3890, USA.


Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is a synthetic analogue of DNA, which has the same nucleobases as DNA but typically has a backbone based on aminoethyl glycine (Aeg). PNA forms duplexes by Watson Crick hybridization. The Aeg-based PNA duplexes adopt a chiral helical structure but do not have a preferred handedness because they do not contain a chiral center. An L-lysine situated at the C-end of one or both strands of a PNA duplex causes the duplex to preferably adopt a left-handed structure. We have introduced into the PNA duplexes both a C-terminal L-lysine and one or two PNA monomers that have a γ-(S)-methyl-aminoethyl glycine backbone, which is known to induce a preference for a right-handed structure. Indeed, we found that in these duplexes the γ-methyl monomer exerts the dominant chiral induction effect causing the duplexes to adopt a right-handed structure. The chiral PNA monomer had a 2,2':6',2''-terpyridine (Tpy) ligand instead of a nucleobase and PNA duplexes that contained one or two Tpys formed [Cu(Tpy)(2)](2+) complexes in the presence of Cu(2+). The CD spectroscopy studies showed that these metal-coordinated duplexes were right-handed due to the chiral induction effect exerted by the S-Tpy PNA monomer(s) except for the cases when the [Cu(Tpy)(2)](2+) complex was formed with Tpy ligands from two different PNA duplexes. In the latter case, the metal complex bridged the two PNA duplexes and the duplexes were left-handed. The results of this study show that the preferred handedness of a ligand-modified PNA can be switched as a consequence of metal coordination to the ligand. This finding could be used as a tool in the design of functional nucleic-acid based nanostructures.

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