A clickable UTP analog for the posttranscriptional chemical labeling and imaging of RNA†
The development of robust tools and practical RNA labeling strategies that would facilitate the biophysical analysis of RNA in both cell-free and cellular systems will have profound implications in the discovery of new RNA diagnostic tools and therapeutic strategies. In this context, we describe the development of a new alkyne-modified UTP analog, 5-(1,7-octadinyl)uridine triphosphate (ODUTP), which serves as an efficient substrate for the introduction of a clickable alkyne label into RNA transcripts by bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase and mammalian cellular RNA polymerases. The ODU-labeled RNA is effectively used by reverse transcriptase to produce cDNA, a property which could be utilized in expanding the chemical space of a RNA library in the aptamer selection scheme. Further, the alkyne label on RNA provides a convenient tool for the posttranscriptional chemical functionalization with a variety of biophysical tags (fluorescent, affinity, amino acid and sugar) by using alkyne–azide cycloaddition reaction. Importantly, the ability of endogenous RNA polymerases to specifically incorporate ODUTP into cellular RNA transcripts enabled the visualization of newly transcribing RNA in cells by microscopy using click reactions. In addition to a clickable alkyne group, ODU contains a Raman scattering label (internal disubstituted alkyne), which exhibits characteristic Raman shifts that fall in the Raman-silent region of cells. Our results indicate that an ODU label could potentially facilitate two-channel visualization of RNA in cells by using click chemistry and Raman spectroscopy. Taken together, ODU represents a multipurpose ribonucleoside tool, which is expected to provide new avenues to study RNA in cell-free and cellular systems.
- This article is part of the themed collection: New Talent