Four-color DNA sequencing with 3'-O-modified nucleotide reversible terminators and chemically cleavable fluorescent dideoxynucleotides

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Jul 8;105(27):9145-50. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0804023105. Epub 2008 Jun 30.


DNA sequencing by synthesis (SBS) on a solid surface during polymerase reaction can decipher many sequences in parallel. We report here a DNA sequencing method that is a hybrid between the Sanger dideoxynucleotide terminating reaction and SBS. In this approach, four nucleotides, modified as reversible terminators by capping the 3'-OH with a small reversible moiety so that they are still recognized by DNA polymerase as substrates, are combined with four cleavable fluorescent dideoxynucleotides to perform SBS. The ratio of the two sets of nucleotides is adjusted as the extension cycles proceed. Sequences are determined by the unique fluorescence emission of each fluorophore on the DNA products terminated by ddNTPs. On removing the 3'-OH capping group from the DNA products generated by incorporating the 3'-O-modified dNTPs and the fluorophore from the DNA products terminated with the ddNTPs, the polymerase reaction reinitiates to continue the sequence determination. By using an azidomethyl group as a chemically reversible capping moiety in the 3'-O-modified dNTPs, and an azido-based cleavable linker to attach the fluorophores to the ddNTPs, we synthesized four 3'-O-azidomethyl-dNTPs and four ddNTP-azidolinker-fluorophores for the hybrid SBS. After sequence determination by fluorescence imaging, the 3'-O-azidomethyl group and the fluorophore attached to the DNA extension product via the azidolinker are efficiently removed by using Tris(2-carboxyethyl)phosphine in aqueous solution that is compatible with DNA. Various DNA templates, including those with homopolymer regions, were accurately sequenced with a read length of >30 bases by using this hybrid SBS method on a chip and a four-color fluorescence scanner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Color
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism
  • Dideoxynucleotides / chemical synthesis
  • Dideoxynucleotides / chemistry
  • Dideoxynucleotides / metabolism*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemical synthesis
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization


  • Dideoxynucleotides
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase