ChemBioChem 2019, 20, 3032 – 3040
The formation of artificial metal base pairs is an alluring and versatile method for the functionalization of nucleic acids. Access to DNA functionalized with metal base pairs is granted mainly by solid-phase synthesis. An alternative, yet underexplored method, envisions the installation of metal base pairs through the polymerization of modified nucleoside triphosphates. Herein, we have explored the possibility of using thiolated and pKa-perturbed nucleotides for the enzymatic construction of artificial metal base pairs. The thiolated nucleotides S2C, S6G, and S4T as well as the fluorinated analogue 5FU are readily incorporated opposite a templating S4T nucleotide through the guidance of metal cations. Multiple incorporation
of the modified nucleotides along with polymerase bypass of the unnatural base pairs are also possible under certain conditions. The thiolated nucleotides S4T, S4T, S2C, and S6G were also shown to be compatible with the synthesis of modified, high molecular weight single-stranded (ss)DNA products
through TdT-mediated tailing reactions. Thus, sulfur-substitution and pKa perturbation represent alternative strategies for the design of modified nucleotides compatible with the enzymatic
construction of metal base pairs.