Pseudo-Complementary G:C Base Pair for Mixed Sequence dsDNA Invasion and Its Applications in Diagnostics (SARS-CoV-2 Detection)

JACS Au. 2023 Feb 1;3(2):449-458. doi: 10.1021/jacsau.2c00588. eCollection 2023 Feb 27.


Pseudo-complementary oligonucleotides contain artificial nucleobases designed to reduce duplex formation in the pseudo-complementary pair without compromising duplex formation to targeted (complementary) oligomers. The development of a pseudo-complementary A:T base pair, Us:D, was important in achieving dsDNA invasion. Herein, we report pseudo-complementary analogues of the G:C base pair leveraged on steric and electrostatic repulsion between the cationic phenoxazine analogue of cytosine (G-clamp, C+) and N-7 methyl guanine (G+), which is also cationic. We show that while complementary peptide nucleic acids (PNA) form a much more stable homoduplex than the PNA:DNA heteroduplex, oligomers based on pseudo-C:G complementary PNA favor PNA:DNA hybridization. We show that this enables dsDNA invasion at physiological salt concentration and that stable invasion complexes are obtained with low equivalents of PNAs (2-4 equiv). We harnessed the high yield of dsDNA invasion for the detection of RT-RPA amplicon using a lateral flow assay (LFA) and showed that two strains of SARS-CoV-2 can be discriminated owing to single nucleotide resolution.