ChemPhysChem 2020, 21, 1044-1051
The isotopic enrichment of nucleic acids with nitrogen‐15 is often carried out by solid‐phase synthesis of oligonucleotides using phosphoramidite precursors that are synthetically demanding and expensive. These synthetic challenges, combined with the overlap of chemical shifts, explain the lag of nitrogen‐15 NMR studies of nucleic acids behind those of proteins. For the structural characterization of DNA and RNA‐related systems, new NMR methods that exploit the naturally occurring 99.9 % abundant nitrogen‐14 isotope are therefore highly desirable. In this study, we have investigated nitrogen‐14 spectra of self‐assembled quartets based on the nucleobase guanine in the solid state by means of magic‐angle spinning NMR spectroscopy. The network of dipolar proton–nitrogen couplings between neighboring stacked purine units is probed by 2D spectra based on 1H→14N→1H double cross‐polarization. Interplane dipolar contacts are identified between the stacked G quartets. The assignment is supported by density functional theory (DFT) calculations of the anisotropic chemical shifts and quadrupolar parameters. The experimental spectra are fully consistent with internuclear distances obtained in silico. Averaging of chemical shifts due to internal motions can be interpreted by semiempirical calculations. This method can easily be extended to synthetic G quartets based on nucleobase or nucleoside analogs and potentially to oligonucleotides.