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Pyridazine Nucleobase in Triplex-Forming PNA Improves Recognition of Cytosine Interruptions of Polypurine Tracts in RNA

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journal contribution
posted on 21.04.2021, 20:10 by Nikita Brodyagin, Ilze Kumpina, Justin Applegate, Martins Katkevics, Eriks Rozners
Sequence specific recognition of regulatory noncoding RNAs would open new possibilities for fundamental science and medicine. However, molecular recognition of such complex double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) structures remains a formidable problem. Recently, we discovered that peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) form an unusually stable and sequence-specific triple helix with dsRNA. Triplex-forming PNAs could become universal tools for recognition of noncoding dsRNAs but are limited by the requirement of polypurine tracts in target RNAs as only purines form stable Hoogsteen hydrogen bonded base triplets. Herein, we systematically surveyed simple nitrogen heterocycles PN as modified nucleobases for recognition of cytosine in PN*C-G triplets. We found that a 3-pyridazinyl nucleobase formed significantly more stable PN*C-G triplets than other heterocycles including the pyrimidin-2-one previously used by us and others for recognition of cytosine interruptions in polypurine tracts of PNA-dsRNA triplexes. Our results improve triple helical recognition of dsRNA and provide insights for future development of new nucleobases to expand the sequence scope of noncoding dsRNAs that can be targeted by triplex-forming PNAs.