Structural elucidation and antisense properties of a sugar-modified DNA analogue

Hari, Yvonne; Schürch, Stefan (3 June 2015). Structural elucidation and antisense properties of a sugar-modified DNA analogue (Unpublished). In: 63rd Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics. St. Louis, USA. 01.-04.06.2015.

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Antisense oligonucleotides deserve great attention as potential drug candidates for the treatment of genetic disorders. For example, muscle dystrophy can be treated successfully in mice by antisense-induced exon skipping in the pre-mRNA coding for the structural protein dystrophin in muscle cells. For this purpose a sugar- and backbone-modified DNA analogue was designed, in which a tricyclic ring system substitutes the deoxyribose. These chemical modifications stabilize the dimers formed with the targeted RNA relative to native nucleic acid duplexes and increase the biostability of the antisense oligonucleotide. While evading enzymatic degradation constitutes an essential property of antisense oligonucleotides for therapeutic application, it renders the oligonucleotide inaccessible to biochemical sequencing techniques and requires the development of alternative methods based on mass spectrometry.

The set of sequences studied includes tcDNA oligonucleotides ranging from 10 to 15 nucleotides in length as well as their hybrid duplexes with DNA and RNA complements. All samples were analyzed on a LTQ Orbitrap XL instrument equipped with a nano-electrospray source. For tandem mass spectrometric experiments collision-induced dissociation was performed, using helium as collision gas.

Mass spectrometric sequencing of tcDNA oligomers manifests the applicability of the technique to substrates beyond the scope of enzyme-based methods. Sequencing requires the formation of characteristic backbone fragments, which take the form of a-B- and w-ions in the product ion spectra of tcDNA. These types of product ions are typically associated with unmodified DNA, which suggests a DNA-like fragmentation mechanism in tcDNA.
The loss of nucleobases constitutes the second prevalent dissociation pathway observed in tcDNA. Comparison of partially and fully modified oligonucleotides indicates a pronounced impact of the sugar-moiety on the base loss. As this event initiates cleavage of the backbone, the presented results provide new mechanistic insights into the fragmentation of DNA in the gas-phase.
The influence of the sugar-moiety on the dissociation extends to tcDNA:DNA and tcDNA:RNA hybrid duplexes, where base loss was found to be much more prominent from sugar-modified oligonucleotides than from their natural complements. Further prominent dissociation channels are strand separation and backbone cleavage of the single strands, as well as the ejection of backbone fragments from the intact duplex. The latter pathway depends noticeably on the base sequence. Moreover, it gives evidence of the high stability of the hybrid dimers, and thus directly reflects the affinity of tcDNA for its target in the cell. As the cellular target of tcDNA is a pre-mRNA, the structure was designed to discriminate RNA from DNA complements, which could be demonstrated by mass spectrometric experiments.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences (DCBP)

UniBE Contributor:

Hari, Yvonne Ilona, Schürch, Stefan


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 540 Chemistry
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Stefan Schürch

Date Deposited:

02 Feb 2016 14:46

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:27


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