Unlocked nucleic acid – an RNA modification with broad potential
The first unlocked nucleic acid (UNA) monomer was described more than a decade ago, but only recent reports have revealed the true potential applications of this acyclic RNA mimic. UNA monomers enable the modulation of the thermodynamic stability of various nucleic acid structures such as RNA and DNA duplexes, quadruplexes or i-motifs. Moreover, UNA monomers were found to be compatible with RNase H activity, a property which is important for single stranded antisense constructs. Notably, UNA monomers can be applied in the design of superior siRNAs, combining potent gene silencing and dramatically reduced off-target effects.