Bifacial Nucleobases for Hexaplex Formation in Aqueous Solution

Although DNA can form triplex and quadruplex structures through hydrogen bonds, design and preparation of structures with more than five strands is difficult even when artificial nucleic acids are used. Herein we report a hexaplex formed by oligomers of artificial nucleic acids bearing bifacial molecules on d-threoninol. Aminopyrimidine and cyanuric acid derivatives were selected as bases because they have complementary hydrogen bonding patterns. The complex formed by aminopyrimidine and cyanuric acid decamers melted with large hysteresis. Hexaplex formation was indicated by gel electrophoresis, size exclusion chromatography and atomic force microscopy imaging, and proven directly through native mass spectrometry. CD measurements and molecular dynamics simulations indicated that the hexaplex adopts a helical structure. The hexaplex formation was highly dependent on pH and the presence of divalent cations. The hexaplex was stable in aqueous solution, and its unique structure and properties may lead to novel nanostructures, molecular assemblies, metal sensors, and ion channels.