Practical synthesis of quinoline-protected morpholino oligomers for light-triggered regulation of gene function

Davide Deodato, Timothy M. Dore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Photoactivatable cyclic caged morpholino oligomers (ccMOs) represent a promising tool to selectively regulate gene expression with spatiotemporal control. Nevertheless, some challenges associated with the preparation of these reagents have limited their broader use in biological settings. We describe a novel ccMO design that overcomes many of the challenges and considerably expedites the synthetic preparation. The key factor is the introduction of an ethynyl function on the photocleavable linker to facilitate the use of a Huisgen 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition for the coupling reaction with the oligonucleotide. Compared to previous strategies, this modification reduces the number of synthetic steps and significantly improves the total yield and the stability of the linker. We used the alkynyl-functionalized linker for the preparation of two different ccMOs targeting the mRNA of the glutamic acid decarboxylase genes, gad1 and gad2. HPLC analysis confirms that the caging strategy successfully inhibits the DNA binding ability, and the activity can be restored by brief illumination with 405-nm light. Overall, the straightforward preparation together with the clean and fast photochemistry make these caged antisense reagents excellent tools to modulate gene function in-vivo with spatial and temporal precision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2078
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2020


  • Antisense reagents
  • CcMO
  • Click chemistry
  • Morpholino oligomers
  • Photo-uncaging
  • Photoactivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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