Peptide nucleic acid (PNA): its medical and biotechnical applications and promise for the future
Journal article, 2000
Synthetic molecules that can bind with high sequence specificity to a chosen target in a gene sequence are of major interest in medicinal and biotechnological contexts. They show promise for the development of gene therapeutic agents, diagnostic devices for genetic analysis, and as molecular tools for nucleic acid manipulations. Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is a nucleic acid analog in which the sugar phosphate backbone of natural nucleic acid has been replaced by a synthetic peptide backbone usually formed from N-(2-amino-ethyl)-glycine units, resulting in an achiral and uncharged mimic. It is chemically stable and resistant to hydrolytic (enzymatic) cleavage and thus not expected to be degraded inside a living cell. PNA is capable of sequence-specific recognition of DNA and RNA obeying the Watson-Crick hydrogen bonding scheme, and the hybrid complexes exhibit extraordinary thermal stability and unique ionic strength effects. It may also recognize duplex homopurine sequences of DNA to which it binds by strand invasion, forming a stable PNA-DNA-PNA tripler with a looped-out DNA strand. Since its discovery, PNA has attracted major attention at the interface of chemistry and biology because of its interesting chemical, physical, and biological properties and its potential to act as an active component for diagnostic as well as pharmaceutical applications. In vitro studies indicate that PNA could inhibit both transcription and translation of genes to which it has been targeted, which holds promise for its use for antigene and antisense therapy. However, as with other high molecular mass drugs, the delivery of PNA, involving passage through the cell membrane, appears to be a general problem.-Ray, A., Norden, B. Peptide nucleic acid (PNA): its medical and biotechnical applications and promise for the future.