Publication – Heckel, Burghardt, Wachtveitl

Reversible photoswitching of RNA hybridization at room temperature with an azobenzene C-nucleoside.

Goldau T, Murayama K, Brieke C, Steinwand S, Mondal P, Biswas M, Burghardt I, Wachtveitl J, Asanuma H, Heckel A. Chemistry. 2015 Feb 9. Abstract or full publication here.

Photoregulation of RNA remains a challenging task as the introduction of a photoswitch entails changes in the shape and the stability of the duplex that strongly depend on the chosen linker strategy. Herein, the influence of a novel nucleosidic linker moiety on the photoregulation efficiency of azobenzene is investigated. To this purpose, two azobenzene C-nucleosides were stereoselectively synthesized, characterized, and incorporated into RNA oligonucleotides. Spectroscopic characterization revealed a reversible and fast switching process, even at 20 °C, and a high thermal stability of the respective cis isomers. The photoregulation efficiency of RNA duplexes upon trans-to-cis isomerization was investigated by using melting point studies and compared with the known D-threoninol-based azobenzene system, revealing a photoswitching amplitude of the new residues exceeding 90 % even at room temperature. Structural changes in the duplexes upon photoisomerization were investigated by using MM/MD calculations. The excellent photoswitching performance at room temperature and the high thermal stability make these new azobenzene residues promising candidates for in-vivo and nanoarchitecture photoregulation applications of RNA.