A metal-mediated base pair that discriminates between the canonical pyrimidine nucleobases

Chem Sci. 2017 Feb 1;8(2):1337-1343. doi: 10.1039/c6sc03482a. Epub 2016 Oct 12.


A nucleoside analogue comprising the ligand 1H-imidazo[4,5-f][1,10]phenanthroline (P) was applied to develop a molecular beacon capable of discriminating the canonical nucleobases cytosine and thymine. The beacon is based on the formation of a stable Ag+-mediated base pair between P and cytosine, whereas the presence of Ag+ strongly destabilizes nucleic acids comprising an artificial base pair between P and thymine. Metal-mediated base pair formation was investigated by temperature-dependent UV spectroscopy and CD spectroscopy and complemented by extensive DFT calculations. The molecular beacon significantly extends the application spectrum of nucleic acids with metal-mediated base pairs. It is of potential use in the detection of single-nucleotide polymorphisms.