Trifluoromethylated nucleic acid analogues capable of self-assembly through hydrophobic interactions†
An artificial nucleic acid analogue capable of self-assembly into a duplex merely through hydrophobic interactions is presented. The replacement of Watson–Crick hydrogen bonding with strictly hydrophobic interactions has the potential to confer new properties and facilitate the construction of complex DNA nanodevices. To study how the hydrophobic effect works during the self-assembly of nucleic acid bases, we have designed and synthesized a series of fluorinated nucleic acids (FNA) containing 3,5-bis(trifluoromethyl)benzene (F) and nucleic acids incorporating 3,5-dimethylbenzene (M) as hydrophobic base surrogates. Our experiments illustrate that two single-stranded nucleic acid oligomers could spontaneously organize into a duplex entirely by hydrophobic base pairing if the bases were size-complementary and the intermolecular forces were sufficiently strong.