Peptide nucleic acids (PNA) derived from N-(N-methylaminoethyl)glycine. Synthesis, hybridization and structural properties
Backbone N-methylated peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) containing the four nucleobases adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine were synthesized via solid phase peptide oligomerization. The oligomers bind to their complementary target with a thermal stability that is 1.5–4.5°C lower per "‘N-methyl nucleobase unit’' [dependent on the number and position(s) of the N-methyl] than that of unmodified PNA. However, even fully N-methyl modified PNAs bind as efficiently to DNA or RNA targets as DNA itself. Furthermore, the hybridization efficiency per N-methyl unit in a PNA decreased with increasing N-methyl content, and the effect was more pronounced when the N-methyl backbone units are present in the Hoogsteen versus the Watson–Crick strand in (PNA)2-DNA triplexes. Interestingly, CD spectral analyses indicate that 30% (3 out of ten) substitution with N-methyl nucleobases did not alter the structure of PNA-DNA (or RNA) duplexes or (PNA)2-DNA triplexes, and likewise CD spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography showed no major structural differences between N-methylated (30%) and unmodified PNA-PNA duplexes. However, PNA-DNA duplexes as well as triplexes adopted a different conformation when formed with all-N-methyl PNAs.