AA Tanpure, SG Srivatsan
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Base-modified fluorescent ribonucleoside-analogue probes are valuable tools in monitoring RNA structure and function because they closely resemble the structure of natural nucleobases. Especially, 2-aminopurine, a highly environment-sensitive adenosine analogue, is the most extensively utilized fluorescent nucleoside analogue. However, only a few isosteric pyrimidine ribonucleoside analogues that are suitable for probing the structure and recognition properties of RNA molecules are available. Herein, we describe the synthesis and photophysical characterization of a small series of base-modified pyrimidine ribonucleoside analogues derived from tagging indole, N-methylindole, and benzofuran onto the 5-position of uracil. One of the analogues, based on a 5-(benzofuran-2-yl)pyrimidine core, shows emission in the visible region with a reasonable quantum yield and, importantly, displays excellent solvatochromism. The corresponding triphosphate substrate is effectively incorporated into oligoribonucleotides by T7 RNA polymerase to produce fluorescent oligoribonucleotide constructs. Steady-state and time-resolved spectroscopic studies with fluorescent oligoribonucleotide constructs demonstrate that the fluorescent ribonucleoside photophysically responds to subtle changes in its environment brought about by the interaction of the chromophore with neighboring bases. In particular, the emissive ribonucleoside, if incorporated into an oligoribonucleotide, positively reports the presence of a DNA abasic site with an appreciable enhancement in fluorescence intensity. The straightforward synthesis, amicability to enzymatic incorporation, and sensitivity to changes in the microenvironment highlight the potential of the benzofuran-conjugated pyrimidine ribonucleoside as an efficient fluorescent probe to investigate nucleic acid structure, dynamics, and recognition events.
E-pub date: 
04 Nov 2011