Modified mRNA cap analogs aid in the study of mRNA-related processes and may enable creation of novel therapeutic interventions. We report the synthesis and properties of 11 dinucleotide cap analogs bearing a single boranophosphate modification at either the α-, β- or γ-position of the 5',5'-triphosphate chain. The compounds can potentially serve either as inhibitors of translation in cancer cells or reagents for increasing expression of therapeutic proteins in vivo from exogenous mRNAs. The BH3-analogs were tested as substrates and binding partners for two major cytoplasmic cap-binding proteins, DcpS, a decapping pyrophosphatase, and eIF4E, a translation initiation factor. The susceptibility to DcpS was different between BH3-analogs and the corresponding analogs containing S instead of BH3 (S-analogs). Depending on its placement, the boranophosphate group weakened the interaction with DcpS but stabilized the interaction with eIF4E. The first of the properties makes the BH3-analogs more stable and the second, more potent as inhibitors of protein biosynthesis. Protein expression in dendritic cells was 2.2- and 1.7-fold higher for mRNAs capped with m2 (7,2'-O)GppBH3pG D1 and m2 (7,2'-O)GppBH3pG D2, respectively, than for in vitro transcribed mRNA capped with m2 (7,3'-O)GpppG. Higher expression of cancer antigens would make mRNAs containing m2 (7,2'-O)GppBH3pG D1 and m2 (7,2'-O)GppBH3pG D2 favorable for anticancer immunization.
© The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.