Base modified peptidic nucleic acids: synthesis and crystallographic analysis of intermediates

  • Geeta Sood

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Peptidic Nucleic Acids (PNAs) are achiral, uncharged nucleic add mimetics, with a novel backbone composed of N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine units attached to the DNA
bases through carboxymethylene linkers. With the aim of extending and improving upon the molecular recognition properties of PNAs, the aim of this work was to synthesjse PNA building block intermediates containing a series of substituted purine bases for subsequent use in automated PNA synthesis.
Four purine bases: 2,6~diaminopurine (D), isoGuanine (isoG), xanthine (X) and
hypoxanthine (H) were identified for incorporation into PNAs targeted to DNA, with the promise of increased hybrid stability over extended pH ranges together with improvements over the use of adenine (A) in duplex formation, and cytosine (C) in triplex formation.
A reliable, high-yielding synthesis of the PNA backbone component N -('2-
butyloxycarbonyl-aminoethyl)glycinate ethyl ester was establishecl. The precursor N~(2-butyloxycarbonyl)amino acetonitrile was crystallised and analysed by X-ray crystallography for the first time. An excellent refinement (R = 0.0276) was attained for this structure, allowing comparisons with known analogues. Although chemical synthesis of pure, fully-characterised PNA monomers was not achieved, chemical synthesis of PNA building blocks composed of diaminopurine, xanthine and hypoxanthine was completely
In parallel, a second objective of this work was to characterise and evaluate novel
crystalline intermediates, which formed a new series of substituted purine bases, generated by attaching alkyl substituents at the N9 or N7 sites of purine bases. Crystallographic analysis was undertaken to probe the regiochemistry of isomers, and to reveal interesting structural features of the new series of similarly-substituted purine bases.
The attainment of the versatile synthetic intermediate 2,6-dichloro~9-
(carboxymethyl)purine ethyl ester, and its homologous regioisomers 6-chloro~9-
(carboxymethyl)purine ethyl ester and 6-chloro-7-(carboxymethyl)purine ethyl ester, necessitated the use of X-ray crystallographic analysis for unambiguous structural assignment. Successful refinement of the disordered 2,6-diamino-9-(carboxymethyl) purine ethyl ester allowed comparison with the reported structure of the adenine analogue, ethyl adenin-9-yl acetate. Replacement of the chloro moieties with amino, azido and methoxy groups expanded the internal angles at their point of attachment to the purine ring. Crystallographic analysis played a pivotal role towards confirming the identity of the peralkylated hypoxanthine derivative diethyl 6-oxo-6,7-dihydro-3H-purlne~3,7~djacetate,
where two ethyl side chains were found to attach at N3 and N7,
Date of AwardSept 1998
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorWilliam Fraser (Supervisor) & Carl H Schwalbe (Supervisor)


  • peptide nucleic acids (PNAs)
  • antisense and antigene theory
  • triplex forming oligonucleotides (TFOs)
  • X-ray crystallographic analysis
  • 2,6-diaminopurine (D)
  • isoGuanine (isoG)
  • xanthine (X)
  • hypoxanthine (H)

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