DNA-templated polymerization of side-chain-functionalized peptide nucleic acid aldehydes

Ralph E. Kleiner, Yevgeny Brudno, Michael E. Birnbaum, David R. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


The DNA-templated polymerization of synthetic building blocks provides a potential route to the laboratory evolution of sequence-defined polymers with structures and properties not necessarily limited to those of natural biopolymers. We previously reported the efficient and sequence-specific DNA-templated polymerization of peptide nucleic acid (PNA) aldehydes. Here, we report the enzyme-free, DNA-templated polymerization of side-chain- functionalized PNA tetramer and pentamer aldehydes. We observed that polymerization of tetramer and pentamer PNA building blocks with a single lysine-based side chain at various positions in the building block could proceed efficiently and sequence specifically. In addition, DNA-templated polymerization also proceeded efficiently and in a sequence-specific manner with pentamer PNA aldehydes containing two or three lysine side chains in a single building block to generate more densely functionalized polymers. To further our understanding of side-chain compatibility and expand the capabilities of this system, we also examined the polymerization efficiencies of 20 pentamer building blocks each containing one of five different side-chain groups and four different side-chain regio- and stereochemistries. Polymerization reactions were efficient for all five different side-chain groups and for three of the four combinations of side-chain regio- and stereochemistries. Differences in the efficiency and initial rate of polymerization correlate with the apparent melting temperature of each building block, which is dependent on side-chain regio- and stereochemistry but relatively insensitive to side-chain structure among the substrates tested. Our findings represent a significant step toward the evolution of sequence-defined synthetic polymers and also demonstrate that enzyme-free nucleic acid-templated polymerization can occur efficiently using substrates with a wide range of side-chain structures, functionalization positions within each building block, and functionalization densities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4646-4659
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 9 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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