Structural Fingerprinting of siRNA Therapeutics by Solution NMR Spectroscopy

Nucleic Acid Ther. 2022 Aug;32(4):267-279. doi: 10.1089/nat.2021.0098. Epub 2022 Mar 9.


Nucleic acids are an increasingly popular platform for the development of biotherapeutics to treat a wide variety of illnesses, including diseases where traditional drug development efforts have failed. To date, there are 14 short oligonucleotide therapeutics and 2 messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which demonstrates the potential of nucleic acids as a platform for the development of safe and effective medicines and vaccines. Despite the increasing popularity of nucleic acid-based drugs, there has been a paucity of high-resolution structural techniques applied to rigorously characterize these molecules during drug development. Here, we present application of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods to structurally "fingerprint" short oligonucleotide therapeutics at natural isotope abundance under full formulation conditions. The NMR methods described herein leverage signals arising from the native structural features of nucleic acids, including imino, aromatic, and ribose resonances, in addition to non-native chemistries, such as 2'-fluoro (2'-F), 2'-O-methyl (2'-OMe), and phosphorothioate (PS) modifications, introduced during drug development. We demonstrate the utility of the NMR methods to structurally "fingerprint" a model short interfering RNA (siRNA) and a sample that simulated the drug product Givosiran. We anticipate broad applicability of the NMR methods to other nucleic acid-based therapeutics due to the generalized nature of the approach and ability to monitor many quality attributes simultaneously.

Keywords: NMR fingerprinting; drug development; oligonucleotide therapeutics; quality attributes; siRNA; structure.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Oligonucleotides* / therapeutic use
  • RNA, Small Interfering / chemistry
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics


  • Oligonucleotides
  • RNA, Small Interfering