• fluorescence;
  • i-motifs;
  • nucleic acid hybridization;
  • oligonucleotides;
  • unlocked nucleic acids


The synthesis of two new phosphoramidite building blocks for the incorporation of 5-(pyren-1-yl)uracilyl unlocked nucleic acid (UNA) monomers into oligonucleotides has been developed. Monomers containing a pyrene-modified nucleobase component were found to destabilize an i-motif structure at pH 5.2, both under molecular crowding and noncrowding conditions. The presence of the pyrene-modified UNA monomers in DNA strands led to decreases in the thermal stabilities of DNA*/DNA and DNA*/RNA duplexes, but these duplexes' thermal stabilities were better than those of duplexes containing unmodified UNA monomers. Pyrene-modified UNA monomers incorporated in bulges were able to stabilize DNA*/DNA duplexes due to intercalation of the pyrene moiety into the duplexes. Steady-state fluorescence emission studies of oligonucleotides containing pyrene-modified UNA monomers revealed decreases in fluorescence intensities upon hybridization to DNA or RNA. Efficient quenching of fluorescence of pyrene-modified UNA monomers was observed after formation of i-motif structures at pH 5.2. The stabilizing/destabilizing effect of pyrene-modified nucleic acids might be useful for designing antisense oligonucleotides and hybridization probes.