Nucleobase-caged peptide nucleic acids: PNA/PNA duplex destabilization and light-triggered PNA/PNA recognition


Correspondence to: Ulf Diederichsen, Institut für Organische und Biomolekulare Chemie, Universität Göttingen, Tammannstraße 2, 37077 Göttingen, Germany. E-mail:


The 2-(o-nitrophenyl)-propyl (NPP) group is used as caging group to mask the nucleobases adenine and cytosine in N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine peptide nucleic acids (aeg-PNA). The adeninyl and cytosinyl nucleo amino acid building blocks Fmoc-aNPP-aeg-OH and Fmoc-cNPP-aeg-OH were synthesized and incorporated into PNA sequences by Fmoc solid phase synthesis relying on high stability of the NPP nucleobase protecting group toward Fmoc-cleavage, coupling, capping, and resin cleavage conditions. Removal of the nucleobase caging group was achieved by UV-LED irradiation at 365 nm. The nucleobase caging groups provided sterical crowding effecting the Watson–Crick base pairing, and thereby, the PNA double strand stabilities. Duplex formation can completely be suppressed for complementary PNA containing caging groups in both strands. PNA/PNA recognition can be completely restored by UV light-triggered release of the photolabile protecting group. Copyright © 2013 European Peptide Society and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.