Modified nucleosides in natural RNA molecules are essential for their functions. Non-natural nucleoside analogues have been introduced into RNA to manipulate its structure and function. We have recently developed a new strategy for the in situ modification of RNA based on the functionality transfer reaction between an oligodeoxynucleotide probe and an RNA substrate. 2′-Deoxy-6-thioguanosine (6-thio-dG) was used as the platform to anchor the transfer group. In this study, a pyridinyl vinyl ketone moiety was newly designed as the transfer group with the expectation that a metal cation would form a chelate complex with the pyridinyl-2-keto group. It was demonstrated that the (E)-pyridinyl vinyl keto group was efficiently and specifically transferred to the 4-amino group of the opposing cytosine in RNA in the presence of NiCl2 with more than 200-fold accelerated rate compared with the previous system with the use of the diketo transfer group. Detailed mechanistic studies suggested that NiCl2 forms a bridging complex between the pyridinyl keto moiety and the N7 of the purine residue neighboring the cytosine residue of the RNA substrate to bring the groups in close proximity.
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