Helix control in polymers: Case of peptide nucleic acids (PNAs)

Filbert Totsingan, Vipul Jain, Mark M. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The helix is a critical conformation exhibited by biological macromolecules and plays a key role in fundamental biological processes. Biological helical polymers exist in a single helical sense arising from the chiral effect of their primary units-for example, DNA and proteins adopt predominantly a right-handed helix conformation in response to the asymmetric conformational propensity of D-sugars and L-amino acids, respectively. In using these homochiral systems, nature blocks our observations of some fascinating aspects of the cooperativity in helical systems, although when useful for a specific purpose, "wrong" enantiomers may be incorporated in specific places. In synthetic helical systems, on the contrary, incorporation of non-racemic chirality is an additional burden, and the findings discussed in this review show that this burden may be considerably alleviated by taking advantage of the amplification of chirality, in which small chiral influences lead to large consequences. Peptide nucleic acid (PNA), which is a non-chiral synthetic DNA mimic, shows a cooperative response to a small chiral effect induced by a chiral amino acid, which is limited, however, due to the highly flexible nature of this oligomeric chimera. The lack of internal stereochemical bias is an important factor which makes PNA an ideal system to understand some cooperative features that are not directly accessible from DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-44
Number of pages14
JournalArtificial DNA, PNA & XNA
Volume3
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry

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