The formation of triplex DNA is a site-specific recognition method that directly targets duplex DNA. However, triplex DNA formation is generally formed for the GC and AT base pairs of duplex DNA, and there are no natural nucleotides that recognize the CG and TA base pairs, or even the 5-methyl-CG (5mCG) base pair. Moreover, duplex DNA, including 5mCG base pairs, epigenetically regulates gene expression in vivo, and thus targeting strategies are of biological importance. Therefore, the development of triplex-forming oligonucleotides (TFOs) with artificial nucleosides that selectively recognize these base pairs with high affinity is needed. We recently reported that 2′-deoxy-2-aminonebularine derivatives exhibited the ability to recognize 5mCG and CG base pairs in triplex formation; however, this ability was dependent on sequences. Therefore, we designed and synthesized new nucleoside derivatives based on the 2′-deoxy-nebularine (dN) skeleton to shorten the linker length connecting to the hydrogen-bonding unit in formation of the antiparallel motif triplex. We successfully demonstrated that TFOs with 2-guanidinoethyl-2′-deoxynebularine (guanidino-dN) recognized 5mCG and CG base pairs with very high affinity in all four DNA sequences with different adjacent nucleobases of guanidino-dN as well as in the promoter sequences of human genes containing 5mCG base pairs with a high DNA methylation frequency.
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