We report an efficient synthesis of the hypermodified natural tRNA modifications wybutosine (yW) and hydroxywybutosine (OHyW). We also describe the preparation of isotopically labeled analogues for precise quantification of yW and OHyW in different tissues including plant materials. The synthesis involved the formation of the unusual tricyclic ring structure of the bases by using a catalytic, intramolecular hydroamination reaction. The basis for the synthesis is also a stereoselective coupling reaction that allows the introduction of the fully substituted side chains to the tricyclic core structure. The isotopologues of yW and OHyW, together with other isotopically labeled tRNA modifications, were ultimately used in LC-MS quantification experiments to investigate the role of the modified bases in the translational process. Quantification was performed in the plant species Arabidopsis thaliana.
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