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Invading Escherichia coli Genetics with a Xenobiotic Nucleic Acid Carrying an Acyclic Phosphonate Backbone (ZNA)

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journal contribution
posted on 28.06.2019, 19:34 by Min Luo, Elisabetta Groaz, Mathy Froeyen, Valérie Pezo, Faten Jaziri, Piotr Leonczak, Guy Schepers, Jef Rozenski, Philippe Marlière, Piet Herdewijn
A synthetic orthogonal polymer embracing a chiral acyclic-phosphonate backbone [(S)-ZNA] is presented that uniquely adds to the emerging family of xenobiotic nucleic acids (XNAs). (S)-ZNA consists of reiterating six-atom structural units and can be accessed in few synthetic steps from readily available phophonomethylglycerol nucleoside (PMGN) precursors. Comparative thermal stability experiments conducted on homo- and heteroduplexes made of (S)-ZNA are described that evince its high self-hybridization efficiency in contrast to poor binding of natural complements. Although preliminary and not conclusive, circular dichroism data and dynamic modeling computations provide support to a left-handed geometry of double-stranded (S)-ZNA. Nonetheless, PMGN diphosphate monomers were recognized as substrates by Escherichia coli (E. coli) polymerase I as well as being imported into E. coli cells equipped with an algal nucleotide transporter. A further investigation into the in vivo propagation of (S)-ZNA culminated with the demonstration of the first synthetic nucleic acid with an acyclic backbone that can be transliterated to DNA by the E. coli cellular machinery.