WO2009037473A2 - Nucleobase characterisation - Google Patents

Nucleobase characterisation Download PDF

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WO2009037473A2
WO2009037473A2 PCT/GB2008/003185 GB2008003185W WO2009037473A2 WO 2009037473 A2 WO2009037473 A2 WO 2009037473A2 GB 2008003185 W GB2008003185 W GB 2008003185W WO 2009037473 A2 WO2009037473 A2 WO 2009037473A2
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pna
nucleic acid
modified
nucleotide
complementary
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WO2009037473A3 (en
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Mark Bradley
Juan J. Diaz-Mochon
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University Court Of The University Of Edinburgh
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    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C07ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
    • C07DHETEROCYCLIC COMPOUNDS
    • C07D239/00Heterocyclic compounds containing 1,3-diazine or hydrogenated 1,3-diazine rings
    • C07D239/02Heterocyclic compounds containing 1,3-diazine or hydrogenated 1,3-diazine rings not condensed with other rings
    • C07D239/24Heterocyclic compounds containing 1,3-diazine or hydrogenated 1,3-diazine rings not condensed with other rings having three or more double bonds between ring members or between ring members and non-ring members
    • C07D239/28Heterocyclic compounds containing 1,3-diazine or hydrogenated 1,3-diazine rings not condensed with other rings having three or more double bonds between ring members or between ring members and non-ring members with hetero atoms or with carbon atoms having three bonds to hetero atoms with at the most one bond to halogen, directly attached to ring carbon atoms
    • C07D239/32One oxygen, sulfur or nitrogen atom
    • C07D239/34One oxygen atom
    • C07D239/36One oxygen atom as doubly bound atom or as unsubstituted hydroxy radical
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C07ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
    • C07DHETEROCYCLIC COMPOUNDS
    • C07D239/00Heterocyclic compounds containing 1,3-diazine or hydrogenated 1,3-diazine rings
    • C07D239/02Heterocyclic compounds containing 1,3-diazine or hydrogenated 1,3-diazine rings not condensed with other rings
    • C07D239/24Heterocyclic compounds containing 1,3-diazine or hydrogenated 1,3-diazine rings not condensed with other rings having three or more double bonds between ring members or between ring members and non-ring members
    • C07D239/28Heterocyclic compounds containing 1,3-diazine or hydrogenated 1,3-diazine rings not condensed with other rings having three or more double bonds between ring members or between ring members and non-ring members with hetero atoms or with carbon atoms having three bonds to hetero atoms with at the most one bond to halogen, directly attached to ring carbon atoms
    • C07D239/46Two or more oxygen, sulfur or nitrogen atoms
    • C07D239/47One nitrogen atom and one oxygen or sulfur atom, e.g. cytosine
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C07ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
    • C07DHETEROCYCLIC COMPOUNDS
    • C07D239/00Heterocyclic compounds containing 1,3-diazine or hydrogenated 1,3-diazine rings
    • C07D239/02Heterocyclic compounds containing 1,3-diazine or hydrogenated 1,3-diazine rings not condensed with other rings
    • C07D239/24Heterocyclic compounds containing 1,3-diazine or hydrogenated 1,3-diazine rings not condensed with other rings having three or more double bonds between ring members or between ring members and non-ring members
    • C07D239/28Heterocyclic compounds containing 1,3-diazine or hydrogenated 1,3-diazine rings not condensed with other rings having three or more double bonds between ring members or between ring members and non-ring members with hetero atoms or with carbon atoms having three bonds to hetero atoms with at the most one bond to halogen, directly attached to ring carbon atoms
    • C07D239/46Two or more oxygen, sulfur or nitrogen atoms
    • C07D239/52Two oxygen atoms
    • C07D239/54Two oxygen atoms as doubly bound oxygen atoms or as unsubstituted hydroxy radicals
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C07ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
    • C07DHETEROCYCLIC COMPOUNDS
    • C07D405/00Heterocyclic compounds containing both one or more hetero rings having oxygen atoms as the only ring hetero atoms, and one or more rings having nitrogen as the only ring hetero atom
    • C07D405/02Heterocyclic compounds containing both one or more hetero rings having oxygen atoms as the only ring hetero atoms, and one or more rings having nitrogen as the only ring hetero atom containing two hetero rings
    • C07D405/12Heterocyclic compounds containing both one or more hetero rings having oxygen atoms as the only ring hetero atoms, and one or more rings having nitrogen as the only ring hetero atom containing two hetero rings linked by a chain containing hetero atoms as chain links
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C07ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
    • C07DHETEROCYCLIC COMPOUNDS
    • C07D473/00Heterocyclic compounds containing purine ring systems
    • C07D473/02Heterocyclic compounds containing purine ring systems with oxygen, sulfur or nitrogen atoms directly attached in positions 2 and 6
    • C07D473/18Heterocyclic compounds containing purine ring systems with oxygen, sulfur or nitrogen atoms directly attached in positions 2 and 6 one oxygen and one nitrogen atom, e.g. guanine
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C07ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
    • C07DHETEROCYCLIC COMPOUNDS
    • C07D473/00Heterocyclic compounds containing purine ring systems
    • C07D473/26Heterocyclic compounds containing purine ring systems with an oxygen, sulfur or nitrogen atom directly attached in position 2 or 6, but not in both
    • C07D473/32Nitrogen atom
    • C07D473/34Nitrogen atom attached in position 6, e.g. adenine
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C07ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
    • C07DHETEROCYCLIC COMPOUNDS
    • C07D498/00Heterocyclic compounds containing in the condensed system at least one hetero ring having nitrogen and oxygen atoms as the only ring hetero atoms
    • C07D498/02Heterocyclic compounds containing in the condensed system at least one hetero ring having nitrogen and oxygen atoms as the only ring hetero atoms in which the condensed system contains two hetero rings
    • C07D498/10Spiro-condensed systems
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T436/00Chemistry: analytical and immunological testing
    • Y10T436/14Heterocyclic carbon compound [i.e., O, S, N, Se, Te, as only ring hetero atom]
    • Y10T436/142222Hetero-O [e.g., ascorbic acid, etc.]
    • Y10T436/143333Saccharide [e.g., DNA, etc.]

Abstract

The present invention provides modified nucleobase compounds, modified nucleic acid mimetic compounds and various uses thereof. In addition, the invention provides methods for nucleobase characterisation, SNP characterisation and nucleic acid sequencing.

Description

NUCLEOBASE CHARACTERISATION

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides modified nucleobase compounds, modified nucleic acid mimetic compounds and various uses thereof. More specifically, the invention provides methods for nucleobase characterisation, SNP characterisation and nucleic acid sequencing. BACKGROUND

Although two original methods that allowed DNA sequencing were published - the chemical approach of Maxim and Gilbert (A.M. Maxam and W. Gilbert, PNAS, 1977, 74, 560-564) and the enzyme based methods of Sanger (F. Sangeret ciL, PNAS, 1976, 5463-5467) - the dominant method currently used is based on Sanger's approach and so-called termination or dideoxy sequencing. This fundamental methodology is based on partial termination of a growing DNA chain to produce a ladder of labelled, terminated fragments, which require size separation for sequence analysis to be carried out. Obviously various improvements have been made since its inception, thus the labels have been converted from traditional radioactive nucleotides to fluorescent dyes, and capillaries (although often polymer filled) rather than flat gel electrophoresis are commonly used in high throughput applications. As a result there has been a massive drive to parallelism, such as the simultaneous running of 96 capillaries, the use of four dyes and analysis in a single channel, while enhancements in fluorescence sensitivity and more efficient polymerases have allowed longer sequencing runs. However, the fact that this method has inherent limitations can be seen by the colossal effort that has been required to sequence the human genome.

A number of newer approaches have been reported over the past few years and really fall into three categories: (i). Sequencing by repetitive single base addition, (ii)

1 2008/003185

Pyrosequencing and (iii) Restriction enzyme mediated cleavage or kinase ligation with deconvolution/decoding.

(i). Sequencing by repetitive single base addition. There are a number of reports in this area (Z.M. Li et al, PNAS, 2003, 100, 414-419; T.S. Seo et.al, PNAS, 2005, 102, 5926-5931; L.R. Bi et al, J. Am. Chem. Soc, 2006, 128, 2542). This approach replies on the enzyme mediated addition of a single base to a growing, primed DNA strand. Single base addition is controlled by some modification of the triphosphate such that multiple additions are impossible. This can be a physical block on the nucleotide or a chemical block (e.g. an ester on the 3 'OH group). This approach relies on fluorogenically labelled building blocks and typically following removal of the blocking group the fluorogenic reporter will also be cleaved, allowing another cycle of reactions to be entertained. There are a number of issues with this approach, thus the need for enzymes and complex triphosphates. There are also issues with cleavage and termination chemistries which need to be essentially quantitative in order to allow reasonable read lengths.

(H). Pyrosequencing (P. Nyren et.al., Anal. Biochem., 1996, 242, 84-89). In this approach a growing, primed DNA strand is treated with an enzyme and one of the four triphosphates. If the base is incorporated, pyrophosphate is liberated; if no incorporation then no pyrophosphate is generated. The pyrophosphate reacts with a sulfurylase which converts it in the presence of APS (adenosine-5'-phosphosulfate) to ATP. This is then treated with another enzyme (lucif erase) to generate light. It is this light which is used to determine the addition or otherwise of a specific base to the growing DNA strand. If two or more bases of the same type are added at one time then more light is generated and this can be quantified. The process is then repeated with the next type of triphosphate allowing sequences to be generated. There are a 185

number of issues, which include the fact that quantification of light emission is not always possible so longish stretches of single bases are essentially impossible to read (e.g. it is really impossible to distinguish between 14 or 15 bases of one type due to emission variations). This was the approach used in a recent paper describing sequencing from millions of beads arrayed in microwells (M. Margulies et al., Nature, 2005, 437, 376-380).

(Hi). Restriction enzyme mediated cleavage or ligation with deconvolution/decoding (S. Brenner et al, Nature Biotech., 2000, 18, 630-634). In this approach, sequences are cleaved with a restriction enzyme to give an overhanging sequence. These are then decoded using a series of 16 encoded adapters. The adapters are then cleaved themselves, which exposes the next set of bases to be decoded. A similar approach is possible using ligation. There are again a number of problems: multiple steps per deconvolution; labelled probes and a variety of enzymes are still needed; incomplete cleavage or unwanted cleavage etc.... This was the approach used by Brenner (S. Brenner et al., Nature Biotech., 2000, 18, 630-634) as well as the approach used by Shendure and Church in their massive pareallel chip based sequencing (beads trapped in a polyacrylamide gel, J. Shendure et.al., Science, 2005, 308, 1728-1732 and R. D. Mitra et al, PNAS, 2003, 100, 5926-5931).

Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms: Another, but related area to sequencing is that of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (A-C. Syvanen et al, Nature Genetics,

2005, 37, S5-S10). Indeed SNP analysis can be viewed as sequencing a single base.

Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are on average found in every 300-1000 bases in humans and represent as much as 90% of all genetic variations between individuals. A SNP can constitute a genetic risk factor (or indeed advantage) to specific disease states as well as a host of physical features. SNP analysis methods are T/GB2008/003185 many and varied but generally consist of primer extension reactions using polymerases and fluorescently labelled triphosphates, although the methods of capture and analysis vary considerably. SNP analysis is a simple form of DNA sequencing in some respects, in that the identity of a single base is the major concern (although its context is of course crucial).

DNA Directed Ligations and Reactions. DNA and peptide nucleic acid (PNA) have been used in a number of ligation-based chemical approaches to synthesis (notably the work of D. R. Liu and O. Seitz -X. Li and D.R. Liu, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2004, 43, 4848-4870; S. Ficht et al, ChemBioChem, 2005, 6, 2098-2103). Non- enzymatic ligation has also been achieved in a DNA-DNA sense by Kool and Richert (N. Griesang et al, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2006, 45, 6144-6148 and ref therein (e.g. P. Hagenbuch et al., Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2005, 44, 6588-6592)) - who used classical nucleophilic addition chemistry to ligate DNA strands (3'-phosphothioate reacting with a 5'-iodothymidine) or monomers (e.g. 3' aminonucleotide reacting with an activated phosphate). The first approach could be used for color detection of RNA and DNA point mutations, however it requires large primers on both the nucleophile and electrophile. Richerts approach, although monomer based, required so called helper primers such that two primers spanning the single base-gap were required to direct incorporation. Liu used dynamic chemistry to make polymers of PNA using a DNA template (D.R. Liu et al. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2003, 125, 13924-13925).

PNA have been previously used as genetic probes (see review by P. Paulosova and F. Pellestor Ann. Genetique, 2004, 47, 349-358) due to their accurate recognition of complementary DNA or RNA sequences, however due to their lack of recognition by polymerases their use as tool for genetic analysis has been very limited. Dynamic chemistry: Over the past decade there has been intense activity in the area of dynamic (combinatorial) libraries (P. T. Corbett et ah. Chem. Rev., 2006, 106, 3652-3711; J.M. Lehn, Chem. Eur. J, 1999, 5, 2455-2463, O. Ramstrδm and J.M. Lehn, Nat. Rev. Drug Discov., ,2002 1, 26-36). A "dynamic library" can be prepared by mixing together in solution two complementary components, such as a selection of aldehydes and an amine, or diols and boronic acids, or thiols and disulfides in the presence of a template. Due to the dynamic equilibrium set up in the system (amine/aldehyde/imine) the most strongly bound ligand will predominate and thus in essence the template "builds" and "concentrates" its own partner. Recently, Dawson et al. (J. Am. Chem. Soc, 2006, 128, 15602-15603) showed that equilibrium kinetics of dynamic processes can also be accelerated by catalysts such as aniline.

As can be seen above, all the newer methods of DNA analysis (and the older methods) have a variety of issues and problems associated with their application, not least the use of enzymes and often expensive triphosphates. The object of the present invention is to obviate or mitigate at least one of the aforementioned problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention described herein provides modified bases, modified nucleobases and DNA mimetic compounds which may be used in various nucleic acid sequencing and/or SNP characterisation methods. The invention provides clear advantages over the prior art as each of the methods described herein is chemical based and does not require the use of enzymes.

Accordingly, and in a first aspect, the present invention provides a modified base comprising a moiety capable of reversible covalent reactions and a detectable tag. One of skill in the art will appreciate that bases (otherwise known as or referred to herein as "nucleobases") comprise purines and pyrimidines which include, for example the specific bases adenine, guanine, thymine, cytosine and uracil. As such, and in one embodiment, the present invention relates to modified adenine, guanine, thymine, cytosine and/or uracil bases. In addition, the present invention encompasses variants such as, for example, xanthine, hypoxanthine, isoguanine and uric acid.

It is to be understood that the term "modified base" may be taken to encompass bases/nucleobases comprising an alkyl chain further comprising functional groups capable of reversible covalent reactions. Preferably, the heterocycle of the bases may be modified so as to comprise the alkyl chain and functional groups. More specifically a heteroatom or carbon atom of the heterocycle may be modified to comprise the alkyl chain and functional groups.

It is to be understood that the functional groups capable of "reversible covalent reactions" may be, for example, groups comprising aldehydes and/or ketones and in one embodiment, the reversible covalent reactions may involve reactions between the aldehyde/ketone groups of the modified base and amines, hydrazide and hydrazides (A. Dirksen, et al., 7. Am. Chem. Soc, 2006, 128, 15602-15603), alkoxyamine (V.A. Polyakov et al., /. Phys. Org. Chem. 1999, 12, 357-363) or alcohols, diols and/or boronic acids (O. Abed et at. Chem. Mater., 2006, 18, 1247 -1260). In one embodiment, the group capable of a reversible covalent reaction is not an alcohol.

The term "detectable tag" may be taken to encompass tags or labels which are, for example, distinguishable from one another either optically or otherwise. Many such tags or labels are known to those skilled in this field but, by way of example, tags suitable for use in the present invention may include, for example, fluorescent or mass-tag compounds. More specifically, and in one embodiment, the modified bases/nucleobases of the present invention may comprise one or more detectable tag (such as, for example a fluorophore) selected from a group of tags having optically detectable dyes ranging from, for example, the blue to the far-red spectra. Examples of tags which may be suitable include, for example, dansyl, fluorescein, rhodamine, texas red, IAEDANS, cyanine dyes (Cy3, Cy3.5, Cy5, Cy5.5, Cy7), Bodipy dyes (Invitrogen) and/or Alexa Fluor dyes (Invitrogen). In one embodiment, the detectable tag is not ferrocene.

Suitable "mass-tag" compounds may include, for example, tags which comprise bromide moieties or other compounds, molecules or moieties capable of providing a clear isotopic pattern in mass-spectrometry techniques such as, for example, MALDI-TOF.

Accordingly, one of skill in the art will appreciate that any of the modified nucleobases described herein may be detected by, for example, fluorescent microscopy or mass spectrometry techniques such as MALDI-TOF or the like.

Advantageously, the heterocycle of each of the modified bases/nucleobases described herein may comprise a detectable tag linked, for example, at any number of positions through a heteroatom or a carbon atom. In one embodiment, the heteroatom may be modified so as to further comprise suitable spacer/carbon spacer moieties such as, for example an alkyne, alkenylene or alkynylene moiety which may be independently substituted with one or more of the detectable tags noted above. By way of example, the heteroatom and/or modified heteroatom of the heterocycle may comprise one or more fluorophore(s) (T.S. Seo et al, PNAS, 2004, 101, 5488-5493; Z. Li et al, PNAS, 2003, 100, 414-419; L. Thoresen et al, Chem. Eur. J. 2003, 9, 4603- 4610) and/or mass tags i.e. bromide, chloride (C. Portal et al, J. Comb. Chem., 2005, 7, 554-560). In one embodiment, the purine and/or pyrimidine heterocylces may be modified by, for example, cross coupling reactions using palladium catalysts (L. Thoresen et at, Chem. Eur. J. 2003, 9, 4603-4610; N.K. Garg et al. Chem. Commun., 2005, 4551-4553).

Advantageously, each modified base/nucleobase may comprise a different detectable tag. In this way, the detectable tag may allow, for example, a modified adenine nucleobase to be distinguished from any other modified nucleobase.

In one embodiment, the present invention provides modified bases selected from the group consisting of:

Formula 1

Figure imgf000009_0001

(ϋ) Formula 2

Figure imgf000009_0002

2008/003185

Formula 3

Figure imgf000010_0001

(iv)

Formula 4

Figure imgf000010_0002

Wherein Y may comprise a functional group capable of reversible covalent reactions. Suitable functional groups may include, for example aldehydes, ketones and/or diols.

Xi-X4 may be different detectable tags or spacer-tag combinations or hydrogen.

Z may be carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and sulphur. In cases (iii) and (iv) above, X may be attached to the heterocycle either through Z, when Z is carbon, or through the carbon moiety at position 8.

In a further embodiment, the present invention provides modified bases selected from the group consisting of: Formula 5

Figure imgf000011_0001

Formula 6

Figure imgf000011_0002

Formula 7

Figure imgf000011_0003
and

Formula 8

Figure imgf000012_0001

wherein X and Y may be hydrogen or a hydrocarbon chain , n equals 1, 2 or 3 and Dye!-Dye4 may be one or more of the detectable tags listed above. Preferably each of DyC1-DyC4 represents a different detectable tag such that, for example, the modified nucleobase of Formula 5 may be distinguished from those shown in Formula 6-8. Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is similar to the naturally occurring nucleic acids - deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). While DNA and RNA possess a deoxyribose or ribose sugar backbone respectively, the backbone of PNA comprises repeating N-(2-aminoethyl)-glycine units which are linked by peptide bonds. The various pyrimidine and/or purine bases (or nucleobases) of PNA, are linked to the peptide backbone by amide bond formation. One of skill in the art will understand that a single nucleobase linked via an amide bond to a single N-(2- aminoethyl)-glycine unit may be described as a PNA monomer, but other PNA' s include for example, those containing modified aminoethyl- glycine backbones, such as, for example, pyrrolidine -based (R. J. Worthington et al. Org. Biomol. Chem., 2007, 5, 249-259) and indol-based DNA mimics (Formula 9). One skilled in the art will recognise other suitable oligomers.

Figure imgf000013_0001

In a second aspect, the present invention provides modified PNA monomers having the following general formula:

Formula 1OA

Figure imgf000013_0002
wherein, "heterocycle" is a modified base (such as, for example, cytosine, adenine, guanine or thymine/uracil) ) which may comprise a detectable tag, n equals 1, 2 or 3 and further wherein, X represents a way of linkage between the heterocycle and the backbone comprising Ri and Y. Ri represents a group capable of reversible covalent reactions. By way of example, Ri may comprise groups such as an amine, a hydrazide, an alkoxymine, a boronic acid, a diol and/or a thiol.

Y, may be a functional group capable of reversible covalent reactions such as, for example, an aldehyde, a ketone, a diol, a boronic acid and a thiol. In a further embodiment, the present invention provides modified PNA monomers having the following general formula:

Formula 10

Figure imgf000014_0001
wherein, "heterocycle" is a modified base (such as, for example, cytosine, adenine, guanine or thymine/uracil) which may comprise a detectable tag as described above, n equals 1, 2 or 3 and further wherein, R1 represents a group capable of reversible covalent reactions. By way of example, Ri may comprise groups such as an amine, a hydrazide, an alkoxymine, a boronic acid, a diol and/or a thiol. Y may be a functional group capable of reversible covalent reactions such as, for example, an aldehyde, a ketone, a diol, a boronic acid and a thiol.

It is to be understood that R1 may be derivatised to comprise a protecting group or optionally a protecting group comprising (for example, covalently bound to) one or more of the detectable tags described above. Suitable protecting groups for use in further derivatising R1 may include, for example, protecting groups such as acetyl, N-[l-(4,4-dimethyl-2,6-dioxocyclohex-l- ylidene)ethyl] (Dde), fluorenylmethoxycarbonyl (Fmoc), trityl groups, disulfide (Ardec (aryldithioethyloxycarbonyl)) light cleavage protecting group (nitroveratyl based), butyloxycarbonyl (Boc), benzyloxycarbonyl (Cbz), trifluoroacetyl (Tfa), phthalimide, benzyl, allyloxycarbonyl (Alloc), toluensulfonyl (Ts), methoxymethyl ether (MOM), tetrahydropyranyl ether (THP), allyl ether, butyl ether, benzylidene acetal (Green, Wiley-Interscience, New York, 1999). In one embodiment, the modified PNA monomers may be selected from the group consisting of:

Formula 11

Figure imgf000015_0001

(ϋ) Formula 12

Figure imgf000015_0002
Formula 13
Figure imgf000016_0001
and

Formula 14

Figure imgf000016_0002

wherein Ri-R4 may comprise a group capable of reversible covalent reactions (see above) optionally protected with a protecting group (as described above). Additionally, or alternatively, Ri-R4 may comprise a protecting group which further comprises (for example covalently bound to) one or more of the detectable tags described herein. Xi- X4 may be one or more of the detectable tags described herein and may be linked to the heterocycle at any number of positions through a heteroatom or a carbon atom. In one embodiment, the heteroatom may be modified so as to further comprise suitable spacer/carbon spacer moieties such as, for example, an alkyne, alkenylene or alkynylene moiety, which may be independently substituted with one or more of the detectable tags noted above.

Xi- X4 is a detectable tag linked to the heterocycles by a cleavable linker or a hydrogen. Z may be carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and sulphur and in cases (iii) and (iv) above, X may be linked to the heterocycle either through Z, when Z is carbon, or through the carbon at position 8.

Y may be a functional group capable of reversible covalent reactions such as, for example, an aldehyde, a ketone, a diol, a boronic acid and a thiol.

In a further embodiment, the present invention provides modified PNA monomers selected from the group consisting of:

(i)

15

Figure imgf000017_0001

(ϋ)

Figure imgf000018_0001

(iii)

Formula 17

Figure imgf000018_0002

and (iv)

Figure imgf000019_0001

wherein Rj may be a hydrocarbon chain, and aryl ring, X may be a hydrocarbon chain and Y may be a hydrocarbon chain or hydrogen.

In a further embodiment, the present invention provides modified bases selected from the group consisting of:

(i)

Figure imgf000019_0002

(ϋ)

Figure imgf000020_0001

(iii)

Figure imgf000020_0002

and (iv)

Figure imgf000021_0001

wherein Y may be a hydrogen or a hydrocarbon chain.

One of skill in the art will appreciate that in addition to providing PNA monomers, the present invention may relate to PNA dimers or trimers. The term

"PNA dimer" according to this invention should be understood as relating to two (or three in the case of a PNA "trimer") PNA monomers which are covalently linked. In one embodiment, a PNA dimer may comprise at least one nucleobase modified to include any of the detectable tags described herein. In other embodiments, the PNA dimers may comprise at their N or C terminal ends any one of the detectable tags described herein.

In instances where the N or C-terminal end of the PNA dimer is modified to include a detectable tag, the other of the N or C terminal end may include a moiety capable of reversible covalent reactions. As such, in one embodiment, the present invention provides PNA dimers (or trimers) comprising at the N-terminal end a detectable tag and at the C-terminal end, a moiety capable of reversible covalent reactions. Furthermore, in certain embodiments, at least one of the nucleobases of the PNA monomers may further comprise a detectable tag. Exemplary methods of producing PNA dimers (or timers) and examples of specific forms of PNA dimer encompassed by this invention are described in more detail below.

The present invention also concerns PNA oligomers and one of skill in the art will readily understand that the term "oligomer" may be taken to refer to a molecule comprising at least two PNA monomers linked by, for example, a peptide bond. The invention also concerns other DNA mimics as noted above.

Formula 23

Figure imgf000022_0001

wherein NB is a nucleobase (for example a modified nucleobase according to the present invention) and n is at least 2.

In view of the above, one of skill will appreciate that a PNA oligomer typically comprises a continuous peptide backbone with each secondary amine of the peptide backbone being further derivatised to comprise a nucleobase (such as the modified nucleobases described above). In a further embodiment, the present invention may provide a PNA oligomer in which some of the secondary amines of the continuous peptide backbone are not derivatised to comprise a nucleobase and hence are left uncoupled. These oligomers may be referred to as oligomers comprising "blank positions". Formula 24 below provides an example of a PNA monomer comprising a blank position (i.e. secondary amine No: 3 is not derivatised to comprise a nucleobase(NB))

Figure imgf000023_0001

In one embodiment, PNA oligomers of the invention may further comprise, at either the N or C-terminal positions, a group capable of reversible covalent reactions. For example, the N-terminal position may comprise a free amine group, aldehyde/ketone hydrazide, hydrazine, alkoxyamine, alcohols, diols and/or boronic acids and the C-terminal position may comprise a group capable of forming a reversible covalent reaction with the group at the N-terminal position. In one embodiment, either of the N-terminal and/or C-terminal positions may be derivatised so as to further comprise a protecting group (as described above).

The PNA oligomers for use in the methods described herein may be synthesised using N-2aminoethyl-glycine units protected with orthogonal protecting groups. Such units may have the following general formula:

Formula 25

Figure imgf000023_0002

wherein P1 and P2 may be disulfide (Ardec (aryldithioethyloxycarbonyl)), light cleavage protecting group (nitroveratyl based), butyloxycarbonyl (Boc), benzyloxycarbonyl (Cbz), trifluoroacetyl (Tfa), phthalimide, benzyl, allyloxycarbonyl ( Alloc) N- [ l-(4,4-dimethyl-2,6-dioxocyclohex- 1 -ylidene)ethyl] (Dde), 185

fluorenylmethoxycarbonyl (Fmoc), t-butoxycarbonyl (Boc) and trityl groups (Green, Wiley-Interscience, New York, 1999).

The PNA oligomers described above may find particular application in genetic analysis methods. As such, in a third aspect, the present invention provides a use for one or more of the modified bases/nucleobases provided by the first aspect of the present invention and/or the PNA monomers/oligomers described herein, in genetic analysis methods. It is to be understood that "genetic analysis" may include, for example, the characterisation, identification and/or sequencing of nucleobases of nucleic acids. In one embodiment, the methods may be used to characterise single nucleotide polymorphisms and/or to sequencing nucleic acids.

One of skill in the art will be familiar with the term "single nucleotide polymorphism" or "SNP". Briefly, a "SNP" represents a form of variation in a genome wherein a particular nucleotide of the genome varies between members of a population. By way of example, a SNP may comprise two alleles (i.e. one of two possible nucleotides at a particular locus) - and, in such cases some of the individuals within a population may carry one SNP allele at a particular locus while others may carry the other allele at the same locus.

Accordingly, the phrase "characterising a nucleobase" may be taken to encompass the act of identifying or determining a particular nucleobase of a nucleic acid sequence - in other words, identifying which nucleobase a particular nucleotide comprises. In instances where the methods are used to characterise a SNP, the term "characterise" may be taken to encompass the act of determining which particular SNP allele (or nucleobase) is present in a particular nucleic acid sequence. Thus, in a fourth aspect, the present invention provides a method of characterising a nucleotide in a nucleic acid sequence, said method comprising the steps of:

(a) contacting a nucleic acid with a peptide nucleic acid (PNA) oligomer capable of hybridising to a portion of the nucleic acid and lacking a nucleobase complementary to a nucleobase of the nucleic acid, to form a nucleic acid/PNA duplex; and

(b) contacting the nucleic acid/PNA duplex with modified bases according to the first aspect of the invention; wherein the modified nucleobase which integrates with the nucleic acid/PNA duplex is complementary to the nucleobase of the nucleic acid, the nucleotide being characterised by means of the detectable tag of the PNA monomer.

One of skill in the art will appreciate that the part of the PNA oligomer which lacks a base complementary to a nucleobase of the nucleic acid sequence, may present a moiety, for example a secondary amine, capable of reacting reversibly with a moiety of the modified bases described above. As such, upon contact with the nucleic acid/PNA duplex, a modified base which is complementary (or matched) to a nucleobase of the nucleic acid, may be incorporated into the nucleic acid/PNA duplex by the formation of, for example: (i) a reversible iminium species between the secondary amine of the PNA oligomer and the reacting moiety (aldehyde group) of the modified nucleobase and (ii) the formation of hydrogen bonds between the modified nucleobase and the nucleobase of the nucleic acid.

In one embodiment, the method may comprise the further step of trapping the base integrated with the nucleic acid/PNA duplex and complementary to (i.e. paired with) the nucleotide of the nucleic acid. For example, the reversible reaction between 185

the secondary amine of the PNA oligomer and the group capable of reversible covalent reactions of the modified nucleobase may be stopped. For example, iminium species may be reduced to give rise to stable tertiary amines using reducing agents such as sodium cyanoborohydride. It is to be understood that the phrase "capable of hybridising to a portion of the nucleic acid sequence" should be taken to mean that the PNA oligomer is complementary to, or shares a certain degree of homology with, a portion of the nucleic acid sequence.

The skilled artisan will readily understand that by means of the detectable tag present on each of the modified nucleobases contacted with the nucleic acid/PNA duplex, it may be possible to detect which modified base has been incorporated into the nucleic acid/PNA duplex. As such, characterisation of the nucleotide of the nucleic acid may easily be achieved. For example, if the modified nucleobase found to have integrated with the nucleic acid/PNA duplex comprises a tag which indicates that it comprises a thymine nucleobase, in accordance with standard complementary base pairing, the nucleotide of the nucleic acid must comprise an adenine nucleobase.

Without wishing to be bound by theory, the integration of a modified nucleobase which is complementary to a nucleobase of a nucleic acid, may represent an example of a dynamic selection process which relates to the various interaction strengths of the complementary (matched) and un-matched nucleobases, as well as the relative concentrations of the four modified nucleobases and may be controlled by changes in the buffer concentrations, pH, temperature and also uses of different catalysts. Dynamic selection processes are well known to one of skill in this field and encompass systems in which a number of complementary components are mixed together in the presence of a template (J.M. Lehn, Nat. Rev. Drug Disc, 2002 1, 26- 36). Due to the dynamic equilibrium set up in such a system, the most strongly bound ligand will predominate and thus the template "builds" or selects from the various component parts added, its own "ligand" or "partner".

Advantageously, the nucleic acid/PNA duplex is contacted with each of the modified nucleobases described above. Typically, the nucleic acid/PNA duplex will be contacted with modified nucleobases comprising nucleobases complementary to each of the nucleobases likely present in the nucleic acid sample. For example, and in one embodiment, the nucleic acid/PNA duplex may be contacted with the modified adenosine, guanine, cytosine and thymine bases described above. Furthermore, by ensuring that each type of modified bases used in the methods described herein comprises a tag which allows it to be separately distinguished from the other modified nucleobases, characterisation of a nucleotide in a nucleic acid sample may be readily achieved.

While the methods described herein may be conducted in solution, it may be advantageous to immobilise or otherwise bind the nucleic acid or PNA oligomer to some form of support substrate, preferably a solid support substrate. In one embodiment, the support substrate may comprise glass, nitrocellulose, cellulose, plastic, agarose, beads, a metal (such as for example gold) or the like. In the case of beads, sizes of approximately 1 nm to about 2 mm are preferred. In a fifth aspect, the present invention provides an alternate method of characterising a nucleotide of a nucleic acid. As stated, the term "characterise" encompasses the act of identifying a particular nucleobase of a nucleotide. It is to be noted that all of the definitions provided above also to apply to this aspect of the invention. The method according to the fifth aspect comprises the step of: (a) hybridising a nucleic acid sequence with a PNA oligomer complementary to a portion of the nucleic acid sequence upstream of the nucleotide to be characterised and further comprising a functional group capable of reversible covalent reactions, to form a nucleic acid/PNA duplex; and (b) contacting the nucleic acid/PNA duplex with modified PNA monomers according to the second aspect of the invention; wherein the modified PNA monomer which integrates with the nucleic acid/PNA duplex is complementary to the nucleobase of the nucleotide, said nucleotide being characterised by means of the detectable tag of the PNA monomer. Preferably, the PNA oligomer hybridises with, or is complementary to, a sequence of the nucleic acid which lies immediately upstream of the nucleotide to be characterised. In other words the PNA oligomer may hybridise with or bind to a nucleic acid sequence at a position 3' to the nucleotide of the nucleic acid such that the terminal (or N-etκi) residue of the PNA oligomer, lies immediately adjacent the nucleotide to be characterised.

Advantageously, the nucleic acid/PNA duplex is contacted with modified PNA monomers (such as those provided by the second aspect of the invention) comprising nucleobases complementary to each of the nucleobases likely present in the nucleic acid sample. For example, and in one embodiment, the nucleic acid/PNA duplex may be contacted with modified PNA monomers comprising the adenosine, guanine, cytosine and thymine nucleobases described above.

One of skill in the art will understand that when the PNA monomers are contacted with the nucleic acid/PNA duplex, the PNA monomer comprising the modified nucleobases complementary to the nucleobase of the nucleic acid will, by dynamic selection (as described above), become integrated into the nucleic acid/PNA duplex.

The methods described herein and particularly the method provided by the fifth aspect of this invention may utilise the PNA dimers provided by this invention. In such cases, rather than using the PNA monomers as described in, for example, step (b) above, the method provided by the fifth aspect may utilise the PNA dimers (or trimers) described herein. Furthermore, the PNA oligomer hybridized to the nucleic acid sequence comprising the nucleotide to be characterised, may be hybridized in such a way that, while upstream of the nucleotide to be characterised, the terminal (or N-end) residue of the PNA dimer lies adjacent a nucleotide which is itself immediately adjacent the nucleotide to be characterised. In this way, in order to correctly hybridise with the nucleic acid strand containing the nucleotide to be characterised, the PNA dimer must comprise two complementary nucleobases - one complementary to the nucleotide to be characterised and the other complementary to the nucleotide immediately upstream thereof.

One of skill will appreciate that when using PNA trimers rather than PNA monomers or dimers, the PNA oligomer may be hybrised to the nucleic acid sequence comprising the nucleotide to be characterised, such that there are two nucleotides of the nucleic acid sequences between the N-terminal end of the PNA oligomer and the nucleotide to be sequenced. In this way, a correctly integrating PNA trimer must possess three complementary nucleobases; two complementary to the nucleotides immediately upstream of the nucleotide to be characterised and one complementary to the nucleotide to be characterised.

In one embodiment, the method provided by the fifth aspect of this invention may further comprise the step of trapping the modified PNA monomer (or PNA B2008/003185

dimer/trimer) comprising the nucleobase complementary to the nucleobase of the nucleic acid, by for example, stopping the reversible reaction. For example, imine species may be reduced in a process known as reductive animation using reducting agents such as sodium cyanoborohydride. Advantageously, since each of the modified PNA monomers (or PNA dimers or trimers) is labelled with at least one detectable tag which is distinguishable from the detectable tags on other types of PNA monomer (dimer or trimer), detection of the specific monomer (dimer or trimer) which has integrated may be easily achieved.

One of skill will readily understand that where PNA dimers are used, there are 16 possible combinations of the four standard nucleotides (A, G, T and C) which must be taken into consideration. As such, when using PNA dimers, the methods described herein may require the addition of all 16 possible PNA dimers. Similarly, when using PNA trimers, there are 64 possible combinations of the four standard nucleotides - as such, when using PNA trimers, the methods described herein may require the addition of all 64 PNA trimers.

As stated, it is to be understood that while each of the above-described methods has been described with reference to the characterisation of a particular nucleobase/nucleotide of a nucleic acid sequence, the methods may also permit the user to characterise a SNP present in a nucleic acid sample. For example, if a SNP is known to occur at a particular locus within a gene, by designing PNA oligomers which hybridise either side of the SNP locus or immediately upstream of the SNP locus (as described above) it may be possible to characterise the SNP (i.e. identify which particular SNP allele is present at that locus). Such methods may be particularly useful in detecting mutations associated which particular genetic disorders. In a sixth aspect, the present invention provides a method of sequencing a nucleic acid, said method comprising the steps of:

(a) hybridising a nucleic acid sequence with a PNA oligomer capable of hybridising to a portion of said nucleic acid sequence and having at its N-terminal position a functional group capable of interacting with a PNA monomer according to the second aspect of the invention, under conditions which permit the formation of a nucleic acid/PNA duplex; and

(b) contacting the nucleic acid/PNA duplex with PNA monomers according to the second aspect of the invention; wherein the PNA monomers which integrate with the nucleic acid/PNA duplex is complementary to a nucleobase of the nucleic acid sequence which may subsequently be identified by means of the detectable tag of the PNA monomer.

Since each PNA monomer may be labelled with a detectable tag which is distinguishable from the detectable tags of PNA monomers comprising another nucleobases, by detecting the tag of the PNA monomer which has integrated into or with the nucleic acid/PNA duplex, it may be possible to sequence a nucleic acid.

In addition, and as has been described above, the method provided by the sixth aspect of this invention may, rather than using PNA monomers in step (b), use the PNA dimers and/or trimers provided by this invention. Preferably, each of the PNA monomers (or dimers or trimers) contacted with the nucleic acid/PNA duplex may comprise, at its N-terminal position a blocking group (as described above). Such PNA monomers (or dimers or trimers) are referred to hereinafter as "blocked PNA monomers (dimers/trimers)". Methods which use blocked PNA monomers (dimers/trimers) are particularly advantageous as only one PNA monomer can integrate with a nucleic acid/PNA duplex at a time. In order for further PNA monomers (dimers or trimers) to be subsequently integrated, the blocking group of the integrated PNA monomer (dimer or trimer) must first be removed (optionally together with any detectable tag). In this way, prior to the addition of a further PNA monomer (dimer or trimer: blocked or otherwise), the detectable tag of the integrated modified nucleobase may be identified and the corresponding nucleobase of the nucleic acid determined.

The techniques which may be used to remove the protecting group (together with any tag present) are known to one of skill in the art and may include, for example basic-based cleavage, acidic-based cleavage, disulfide reduction, metal-based catalytic reactions, light-based cleavage reactions (Green, Wiley-Interscience, New York, 1999).

Removal of the protecting group and any tag present on the integrated modified nucleobases, may expose or yield a moiety (such as a free amine; group, aldehyde/ketone, hydrazide, hydrazine, alkoxyamine, alcohols, diols and/or boronic acids capable of reacting reversibly with another PNA monomer. In addition, the method may comprise the further step of trapping the integrated PNA monomer so as to prevent further reversible reactions. For example, reduction of the imine species with sodium cyanoborohydride and further trapping of the generated secondary amine by, for example, an amidation step using acetylchloride. Since each modified nucleobase to integrate with the nucleic acid/PNA duplex binds to a complementary nucleobase of the nucleic acid, the methods described herein render it is possible to sequentially determine the sequence of a nucleic acid.

Each of the methods described herein offers many advantages over the prior art. In particular, no enzymes are needed and no labelled triphosphates are necessary - only labelled PNA monomers, dimers or trimers are used. In addition, there is no need 03185

to use current fluorophore attachment strategies as existing strategies, such as for example the use of alkynes, are only used due to enzyme requirements (Q. Meng et al., J. Org. Chem., 2006, 71, 3248-3252).

One of skill in this field will appreciate that any of the methods provided by this invention, and in particular the methods provided by the fourth, fifth and sixth aspects of this invention may require the use of microarray technology. For example, the nucleic acid comprising the nucleotide to be characterised may be immobilised on to some form of suitable substrate using, for example, a micro printing system or the like. In this way, a large number of different nucleic acids can be immobilised on to substrates in discrete areas such.

In other embodiments, the nucleic acids comprising nucleotides to be characterised may be held in solutions with the other components i.e. the PNA oligomers, modified nucleobases etc. being added in solution also.

In further embodiments, the nucleic acids comprising nucleotides to be characterised may be immobilised on to substrates such as, for example, gold surfaces suitable for mass-spectrometry analysis.

In a seventh aspect of this invention, there is provided a kit comprising the reagents and components required for the methods provided by the fourth, fifth and sixth aspects of this invention. In one embodiment, the kit may provide reagents and components useful in methods for characterising a nucleotide of a nucleic acid and/or for sequencing a nucleic acid, said kit comprising components selected from the group consisting of:

(a) a peptide nucleic acid (PNA) oligomer capable of hybridising to a portion of a nucleic acid and lacking a nucleobase complementary to that of the nucleotide to be characterised; (b) modified nucleobases according to the present invention;

(c) PNA monomers, dimers, trimers and/or oligomers as described herein; and

(d) a PNA oligomer complementary to a portion of the nucleic acid sequence upstream of the nucleotide to be characterised and further comprising a functional group capable of reversible covalent reactions.

One of skill in the art will appreciate that, while the present invention has been described with reference to the DNA mimetic PNA, other DNA mimics could also be used provided they allow dynamic incorporation of the nucleobases. Such alternate mimetic include those disclosed by R. J. Worthington et ah, Org. Biomol. Chem.,

2007, 5, 249-259. In addition, it may be possible to use modified DNA dimers, trimers and/or oligomers in the methods provided by the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh aspects of this invention. More specifically, those steps which require the use of a PNA oligomer capable of hybridising to a nucleic acid sequence to be sequenced or comprising a nucleotide to be characterised may, in alternative embodiments utilise

DNA dimers, trimers and/or oligomers modified to include the requisite functional groups capable of reversible reactions and/or blank positions corresponding to nucleotides to be characterised. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention will now be described in detail and with reference to the following Figures which show:

Figure 1 : Structures of PNA and DNA showing PNA-DNA hybridisation. Figure 2: Dynamic-based SNP analysis. A complementary PNA sequence lacking a base opposite a SNP location, is hybridised to a nucleic acid sequence comprising a SNP, to form a nucleic acid/PNA duplex. By dynamic attachment, the base complementary to the SNP nucleotide integrates with the nucleic acid/PNA duplex. Each modified base may be labelled with a specific tag which may be a fluorophore (see Figure 1) Figure 3: Illustration of the dynamic-based SNP analysis shown in Figure 2.

Figure 4: Alternative method for dynamic-based SNP analysis - DNA oligomers are hybridised with complementary PNA oligomers having free amino groups at the N-terminus which permit the dynamic attachment of the base complementary to the SNP nucleobase. Figure 5: Illustration of the dynamic-based SNP analysis shown in Figure 4.

Figure 6: Illustration of dynamic-based DNA sequencing, (a) PNA oligomers, which may be attached to surfaces or in solution, containing a free amino group at the N-terminal position (b) DNA templates hybridise to their corresponding "PNA primers" (c) addition of the four N-protected aldehyde PNA monomers (d) dynamic attachment of the corresponding nucleobase (e) removal of both protecting groups and tags "fixing" the growing strand by may be a reduction process and (f) repeat.

Figure 7: Illustration of dynamic-based DNA sequencing, (a) DNA oligomers, which may be attached to surfaces or in solution (b) "PNA primers" having a free amine group at their N-terminal position hybridise to their corresponding DNA template (c). addition of the four N-protected aldehyde PNA monomers (d) dynamic attachment of the corresponding nucleobase (e) removal of both protecting groups and tags and "fixing" the growing strand by may be a reduction process and (f) repeat.

Figure 8: Dynamic-based DNA sequencing of Figures 6 and 7. 2008/003185

Figure 9: Synthesis of aldehyde bases (i) N-alkylation of nucleobase using a bromoalkyl acetal (ii) labelling of the nucleobases via Sonogashira reaction (iii) deprotetion of the acetal protecting group.

Figure 10: Synthesis of protected/tagged PNA- aldehydes: (i) Protection of primary (ii) CMmtCH2COOH, AMmtCH2COOH or GMmtCH2COOH or T-CH2COOH, DCC, HOBt; NB = Nucleobases.

Figure 11: Schematic representation of the pattern followed to print 8 DNA oligomers (Table 1) and a fluorescently-labelled marker.

Figure 12: FITC channel image of slide containing 8 DNA oligomers (Table 1) plus a fluorescent DNA marker hybridized with PNA 13 containing a blank position. Just the fluorescent DNA marker is detected;

Figure 13: Cy5 channel image of slide containing 8 DNA oligomers (Table 1) plus a fluorescent DNA marker hybridized with PNA 13 containing a blank position, only PNA-DNA antiparallel orientated duplexes were able to hybridise.

Figure 14: (A) Shows the pattern of amino modified oligonucleotides (Table

2) printed onto aldehyde slides using a Microdrop robot equipped with a piezo electric pipette (3 x 8 pattern). (B) Schematic representation of antiparallel duplexes formed by PNA 13 and DNA oligonucleotides found in Table 2. (C) Fluorescent image (Cy5 channel) showing PNA 13 hybridised with oligo 1 and 2 (Table 2) . (D) FITC channel image showing the dynamic incorporation of fluorescein-labelled cytosine aldehyde 10 following incubation of arrays containing DNA-PNA 13 duplexes with aldehydes 9 and 10. Fluorescein signal was detected only where G-antipar oligo 2 (Table 2, Figure 14A and 14B) was printed. (E) Further FITC channel image showing the results of an in situ approach and the dynamic incorporation of fluorescein-labelled cytosine aldehyde. Fluorescein signal was detected only where G-antipar oligo 2 (Table 2, Figure 14A and 14B) was printed

Figure 15: (A) Synthesis of aldehyde dimers for dynamic sequencing where the second nucleobase is defined by a dye. (B) A PNA dimer in which the first nucloebase is identified by a dye.

Figure 16: (A) Nucleotide characterisation method using PNA dimers in which the second nucleobase of the dimer is labelled with a detectable tag. (B) Alternative method of nucleotide characterisation utilising PNA dimers in which the first nucleobase is labelled with a detectable tag. Figure 17: schematic diagram showing a method for mass-spectrometry based

SNP analysis.

Figure 18: Shows the general structure of the modified nucleobases for use in mass-spectrometry based SNP analysis.

Figure 19: Shows the general structures of modified nucleobases which may be useful in mass- spectrometry based nucleic acid sequencing methods.

Methods

Synthesis of the labelled bases, building blocks and primers.

(i). PNA-aldehyde monomers and aldehyde bases. These were prepared as shown in Figures 9 and 10. This method is applicable to many protecting groups groups and this includes the Dde group, the Fmoc group, thiol cleaved protecting group (Ardec (aryldithioethyloxycarbonyl) light cleavable protecting groups

(nitroveratyl based) as well as fluorophores.

The above detailed methods may be adapted to give fluorescent labelled materials via classical Sonogashira coupling of the bromo and iodo-pyrimidine and purine derivatives to propargylamines followed by fluorescent labelling with the T/GB2008/003185 various fluorophores (see Scheme 3). This approach may also be applied to the synthesis of the fluorescently labelled "aldehyde bases" (Figure 6). The fluorophore choice will be dictated by the need to allow individual detection of bases.

Synthesis of protected and tagged PNA-aldehydes: PNA-aldehydes 2 were prepared from PNA carboxylic acids, PNA esters or PNA alcohols following standard chemistries (Scheme 1). 1 was prepared according to a published methods (L. Bialy et al.. Tetrahedron 2005, 61, 8295-8305).

Figure imgf000038_0001

Scheme 1. Target synthesis.

As an example 3 was converted into a Weinreb amide 4 (Scheme 2), then reduced to afford the target aldehyde 2. To prevent over-reduction of 4, the milder reducing agent lithium tri-ferϊ-butoxyaluminium hydride (LiAlH(O-^-Bu)3) was employed in place of LiAlH4 (M. Paris et al. Tetrahedron Lett. 1998, 39, 1341- 1344).

Figure imgf000038_0002
185

Scheme 2. Synthesis of target aldehyde via reduction of a Weinreb amide: (a) MeONHMe-HCl, EDCHCl, HOBt-H2O, Et3N, DMF, room temperature; (b) LiAlH(O-^-Bu)3, THF, room temperature. 65 % yield (HPLC). Aldehydes were purified using a catch-and-release strategy on a threonyl resin (D.R. Liu et al. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2003, 125, 13924-13925).

(a) Preparation of resin: Aminomethyl NovaGel HL was swollen with DMF over approximately 10 min. Meanwhile, DIPEA was added to a solution of Fmoc- Thr(t-Bu)-OH and TBTU in DMF and the reaction mixture was shaken for 5 min. The swollen resin was then filtered and the solution of activated protected threonine was added. The resulting suspension was shaken at room temperature for 2 h. The resin was then filtered from the reaction mixture and washed with DMF (5 x), THF (5 x) and DCM (5 x), then dried in vacuo at 40 0C overnight. The resin was then swollen in DMF for approximately 10 min and filtered, then shaken with 20 % v/v piperidine in DMF x2. The resin was then shaken with 80 % v/v TFA (trifluoroacetic acid) in DCM, filtered, washed with DCM (1 x) and again shaken with 80 % v/v TFA in DCM. The resin was filtered, washed with DCM (5 x) and dried in vacuo at 40 0C.

(b) Purification of aldehyde by catch and release:

Capture: To the deprotected threonyl scavenging resin was added a solution of crude aldehyde. The mixture was shaken at room temperature for 1 h, then the resin was filtered and washed. Release: The resin was shaken and washed with a mixture of AcOH/H2O/DCM/MeOH (10/5/5/80, 2 mLx5) for 20 min and the washings concentrated in vacuo to give the aldehyde.

Figure imgf000040_0001

Scheme 3. Condensation of the impure aldehyde with a threonine modified resin yields a supported oxazolidine. After washing, cleavage affords the pure aldehyde.

1. An alternative route to aldehyde 2 is via the S-benzyl thioester 5 as shown in

Scheme 4 (P.T. Ho, et a J. Org. Chem. 1993, JS, 2313-2316).

Figure imgf000040_0002

Scheme 4. Synthesis of target aldehydes via the 5-benzyl thioester: (a) benzyl mercaptan, DMAP, DCC, DMF room temperature, (b) triethylsilane, Pd/C, THF, room temperature, 20 h, 95% yield (HPLC).

Alternative routes include the reduction of the methyl ester to the corresponding primary alcohol and subsequent oxidation or direct synthesis of the PNA alcohol and oxidation. Synthesis of tagged nucleobases-aldehydes for SNP analysis (Method 1):

Nucleobases-aldehydes 6 were prepared from commercial available halo-nucleobases by alkylation with 2-(bromomethyl)-l,3-dioxolane (Scheme 5) under microwave irradiation followed by Sonogashira reaction with Tfa protected propargylamine, deprotection of the Tfa protecting group and coupling with a carboxylic acid derivatised dye.

Figure imgf000041_0001

Halo-nucleobases

Figure imgf000041_0002

N ucleobase-alde hyde

Scheme 5. General strategy for synthesising nucleobase-aldehyde.

As an example thymine and cytosine derivative were synthesised as described in Scheme 6 and 7.

Figure imgf000042_0001
o

Jl

-N"^ Dye H y

Figure imgf000042_0002

Scheme 6. Synthesis of rhodamine labelled cytosine-aldehyde 7

Figure imgf000043_0001

Figure imgf000043_0002

5(6)-carboxyfluorescein

Figure imgf000043_0003

Scheme 7. Synthesis of fluorescein labelled thymine-aldehyde 8

Alkylation of nucleobases with acetals

This process was optimised using microwave irradiation at 1000C for 30 min in THF. The use of 1.2 equiv. of 2-(bromomethyl)-l,3-dioxolane with NEt3 gave rise to the mono-alkylated product in a 4: 1 ratio.

The labelling of the nucleobases were achieved via Sonogashira cross coupling reaction using aminomethylacetylene.

(a) Sonogashira reaction with Tf a protected aminomethylacetylene before deprotecing the Tf a group with ammonia. PyBOP as coupling agent.

(b) The second explored pathway was to carry out the Sonogashira reaction with the acetylene group already bearing the dye. That reaction was done by reacting 185 aminomethyl acethylene with supported activated dyes using a hydroxynitrobenzoic resin (Scheme 8).

Figure imgf000044_0001

5(6)carboxyfluorescein 5(6)carboxytetraethylrhodamine

Scheme 8. Synthesis of labelled acetylene using supported activated dyes.

Finally, acetals were deprotected using 2N HCl in H2O to give products 7 and 8.

Synthesis of fluorescently-labelled aldehyde bases for "clamp" SNP analysis

The alkylation of the nucleobases was achieved using a modified procedure described by L. Christensen et al, Nucl. Acids Res., 1998, 26, 2735-2739. One equivalent of halogenated nucleobase was dissovled in DMF with NaH (1.2 equivalent) and then stirred for 30 min at room temperature. Then, 1.12 equivalent of bromoacetaldehyde diethylacetal was added and the solution stirred under microwave irradiation for 30 min at 130 0C.

Alkylated halobases were subjected to Sonoghasira cross-coupling following a procedure described in N.K. Garg et al. Chem. Commun., 2005, 4551-4553 and using Tfa protected aminomethylacetylene. Deprotecing the Tfa group with ammonia in MeOH, gave rise to a free primary amine which was used to couple dyes containing carboxylic groups. The amide coupling was achieved using HOBt/EDCI HCl coupling agents.

Acetal deprotection was achieved by treatment with 75% TFA/12.5%H2O/12.5%CH3CN during 24 hours at room temperature. Alternatively, by heating at 60 0C under microwave irradiation for 2 hours. Acetals were purified by RP-HPLC. RP-HPLC was performed on a HPIlOO system equipped with a Phenomenex Prodigy C18 reverse-phase column (250 mm x 10 mm x 5 mm) with a flow rate of 2.5 mL/min and eluting with (A) 0.1% TFA in H2O and (B) 0.042% TFA in acetonitrile, with an initial isocratic period of 4 min at 0% (B) followed by a gradient of 0-50%.(B) over 25 min and 50-100 % (B) over 10 min, holding at 100 % (B) for 5 min. ESI-/MS analyses were carried out on an Agilent Technologies LC/MSD Series 1100 quadrupole mass spectrometer (QMS) in a electrospray ionization (ESI) mode. Final aldehydes were identified by NMR and LC-MS (ESI).

As examples, rhodamine-labelled thymine aldehyde (Scheme 9) and fluorescein-labelled cytosine aldehyde (Scheme 10) were produced as described above. Nucleobases modified in this way may be used in any of the methods described herein and in particular, in methods for SNP characterisations and/or analysis.

2008/003185

Figure imgf000046_0001

2003, 5, 3245-3248

Figure imgf000046_0002

Figure imgf000046_0003

Scheme 9 - Synthesis of rhodamine-labelled thymine 9 aldehyde for SNP analysis using the "clamp" approach. 08/003185

Figure imgf000047_0001

Pure Isomer

Figure imgf000047_0002

Scheme 10 - Synthesis of fluorescein-labelled cytosine aldehyde 10 for SNP analysis using the "clamp" approach.

One of skill in this field will appreciate that adenine and guanine derivatives using BODIPY dyes will prepare in a similar manner. In such cases the halonucleobases are the following: B2008/003185

Adenine Guanine

Figure imgf000048_0001

X = Br at either 7 or 8

Y = C when X at 7; N when X at 8

Synthesis of N-2(Dde-amino)ethyl-iV-boc-glycine 11

Figure imgf000048_0002
To a solution of methyl 7V-2(Dde-amino)ethyl- glycine ester (1 jnmol) (L. Bialy et al.., Tetrahedron, 2005, 61, 8295-8305) in dry THF (10 rnL, 0.1 M) was added Boc2O (1.1 mmol) and triethylamine (1.1 mmol) and the reaction was stirred for 5 hours being monitored by TLC. After removal of the solvent the crude was dissolved in DCM and washed with NaHCO3, KHSO4 and brine. The organic phase was dried over NaSO4 anh. and concentrated to give rise to a yellow solid. Without any further purification the crude was dissolved in MeOH and a 2 M solution of Cs2CO3 in water was added. After 1.5 h the reaction was acidified to pH 3 with KHSO4. The acid precipitated, filtered off and dried to give rise acid 11 as a white solid.

Synthesis of PNA oligomers 12 and 13

PNA oligomer 12 (H2N-TACTACATC-CTTCC-CONH2) and 13

(Cy5COHN-TACTACATC_CTTCC-CONH2) _ = boc-deprotected blank monomer 9 were synthesised using Dde protected monomers (Bradley et al, Tetrahedron, 2005, 61, 8295-8305) on solid phase (JJ. Diaz-Mochon et al, Org. Lett. 2004, 6, 1127- 1129). In order to insert the blank monomer iV-2(Dde-amino)ethyl-N-boc-glycine 11 was used.

HPLC and MALDI-TOF

PNA 12 (MALDI-TOF; calculated mass: 3780, found mass: 3781 (M+l).

PNA 13 (MALDI-TOF; calculated mass: 4244, found mass: 4246 (M+l).

Array based screening.

8-amino modified oligonucleotides (Table 1) were contact printed onto Code-link (Amersahm) slides for SNP analysis. These oligos were designed to have either a parallel orientation (PNA C-terminal facing DNA 3 '-end) when hybridised with PNA 13 or antiparallel (PNA N-terminal facing DNA 3 '-end).

Table 1. DNA oligomers for dynamic-based SNP (method 1)

A A-antipar TTT TTT GGA AGA GAT GTA GTA

B G-antipar TTT TTT GGA AGG GAT GTA GTA

C C-antipar TTT TTT GGA AGC GAT GTA GTA

D T-antipar TTT TTT GGA AGT GAT GTA GTA

E A-par TTT TTT ATG ATG TAG AGA AGG

F C-par TTT TTT ATG ATG TAG CGA AGG

G G-par TTT TTT ATG ATG TAG GGA AGG

H T-par TTT TTT ATG ATG TAG TOA AGG

Slides were printed using a Genetix Qmini Arrayer and solid pins. A FITC-labelled DNA oligo was used as marker and the following pattern as shown in Figure 11 was used. 185

A 2 μM solution of PNA 13 in HybGen buffer (Genetix) was hybridised on the slides using Hyb4 hybridization station (from 65 0C to 40 0C over 6 h and then at 40 0C for 2 hours). After washing the slide was scanned using a Lavision Biotech Scanner a FITC and Cy5 filter sets (Figures 12 and 13). Figure 12 shows the FITC channel and just the marker is detected; in Figure 13 (Cy5 channel), only the oligos with antiparallel orientation were able to hybridised modified PNA 13

SNP analysis

Amino modified oligonucleotides (Table 2) were inkjet printed onto aldehyde slides (Genetix) for SNP analysis. These oligos were designed to hybridise following an antiparallel (PNA N-terminal facing DNA 3 '-end) orientation when hybridised with PNA 13

Table 2. DNA oligomers for dynamic-based SNP

A A-antipar Oligo 1 TTT TTT GGA AGΛ GAT GTA GTA

B G-antipar Oligo 2 TTT TTT GGA AG G GAT GTA GTA

Slides were printed using a Microdrop robot and a piezo electric pipette. Figure 14A shows the pattern used.

A 2 μM solution of PNA 13 in HybGen buffer (Genetix) was hybridised on the slides using Hyb4 hybridization station from 55 0C to 30 0C over 12 h. After washing, the slide was scanned using a Lavision Biotech Scanner. Figure 14B shows the duplex formed. Figure 14C (Cy5 channel) show the oligos with antiparallel orientation were able to hybridised modified PNA 13.

Once the arrays were hybridised, aldehyde bases 9 and 10 were incubated with the arrays. Dynamic incorporation was observed when arrays were incubated with 5 μM of each aldehyde together with ImM of NaBCNH3 at room temperature for 16h (see Figure 14D) at both pH 6 (0.1M NH4OAc) and pH 8.5 (0.2M NaHCO3; 0.3M NaCl). Images obtained using the fluorescein channel (FITC channel) detect DNA oligo 2 (G antiparallel) (Figure 14D). This signal comes from the base-aldehyde bearing a fluorescein dye, in this case cytosine aldehyde 10, corresponding with the perfect match for G

A second approach was also used: To a 2 μM solution of PNA 13 in HybGen buffer (Genetix) aldehydes 9 and 10 at 2 μM concentration were added together with

1 mM NaBCNH3. This solution was used to hybridise a slide containing DNA oligos showed in Table 2. Hybridization occurred from 55 0C to 30 0C over 12h. Under these conditions, images obtained using the fluorescein channel (FITC channel) detect DNA oligo 2 (G antiparallel: see Figure 14E). This signal comes from the base- aldehyde bearing a fluorescein dye, in this case cytosine aldehyde 10, corresponding with the perfect match for G.

Solution based screening.

Synthesis of PNA oligomers 12.

PNA oligomer 14 (NH2-CATTCTTCCTCT-CONH2) was synthesised using Dde protected monomers (L. Bialy et al, Tetrahedron, 2005, 61, 8295-8305) on solid phase (JJ. Diaz-Mochon et al, Org. Lett. 2004, 6, 1127-1129).

PNA 14 (MALDI-TOF; calculated mass: 3345, found mass: 3348 (M+ 1)

2 amino modified oligonucleotides complementary to PNA 14 were used for DNA analysis in solution using mass-spec analysis and solid phase analysis. T/GB2008/003185

Table 3. DNA oligomers for dynamic-based sequencing and SNP (method 2)

I C-extension TTTTTTAGAGGAAGAATGGGTAA

J T- extension TTTTTTAGAGGAAGAATGAAGTT

To a 1 μM solution of PNA 14 in HybGen buffer was added a 1.2 μM solution of DNA oligomer I in TE buffer (Table 3). The mixture was heated up to 65 0C and then cool it down slowly to 40 0C. At this stage different pH modifications were made before adding PNA monomer aldehyde 2. Extension reaction was followed by HPLC and mass-spectroscopy using reverse phase column and ammonia buffers.

Synthesis of fiuorescently-labelled PNA aldehyde monomers for dynamic extension.

These compounds were synthesied following modified protocols developed by L. Bialy et al. Tetrahedron, 2006, 61, 8295-8305 for the synthesis of PNA monomers. The main difference is the initial alkylation of ethylendiamine with bromoacetalldehyde diethyl acetal using microwave irradiation (see Scheme 11).

Dde deprotection in solution was achieved using hydrazine and water at room temperature for 16 h. Dye coupling was done using EDCI and HOBt. Final deprotection was achieved using TFA in acetonitrile for 30 min. Purification and analyses were performed as mentioned above.

Scheme 11

Figure imgf000053_0001

As examples, fluorescein-labelled PNA-aldehyde thymine and rhodamine- labelled PNA-aldehyde cytosine were prepared — see scheme 12.

Scheme 12

Thymine Cytosine

Figure imgf000053_0002

One of skill will appreciate that adenine and guanine derivatives using BODIPY dyes will prepare in a similar manner. Use of dimers for sequencing

Aldehydes are prepared by attachment to an additional PNA building block. This necessitates the preparation of a mixture of 16 compounds accomplished by solid phase methods using and split and mix strategy. In this case the 4 N-protected aldehydes (A, T, C and G) are immobilised onto either a hydrazine linker (see A. Lee et. al., J. Am. Chem. Soc, 1999, 121, 9907-9914) or threonyl scavenging resin (D.M. Rosenbaum and D.R. Liu, J. Am. Chem. Soc, 2003 125, 13924-13925). The protecting groups are then cleaved and the four resins mixed and split into four pools to couple standard protected PNA monomers. Following deprotection and labelling using activated disulfide (Scheme 13) containing a specific dye according to the last nucleobase, a global mixing of the resin and cleavage gives 16 PNA dimers (Figure 15A).

Scheme 13

Figure imgf000055_0001

TFA in CH3CN/H2O

Figure imgf000055_0002

DyeΛN"--'S S-'v~0YCKi The compound with fluorescein as dye has been synthesised H n >

NO,

Figure 16 (A and B) details methods of characterising SNPs/nucleotides and/or of sequencing which utilise the PNA dimers/trimers provide by this invention.

Four DNA oligomers attached to the slide varying only in one position (for simplicity only 6 bases are shown). A single complementary PNA sequence is hybridised to the array (again note the PNA will be 12 bases long - only 2 are shown to aid clarity). All 16 PNA-dimer aldehydes are added allowing dynamic attachment of the corresponding dimer. In this case the second base of the dimer will be identified by way of a detectable tag.

In an alternative embodiment, the dimers are created such that the first nucleobase is identified by means of a detactable tag and the second is random. In this cases the first nucloebase has a dye in the ring while the protecting group does not bear any dye. Figure 15B shows an example of this form of dimer.

Scheme for mass spec based detection on gold-arrays

Gold surfaces with DNA oligos attached through gold-thiol self-assembly monolayers (SAM) may be used for analysis of genetic material. For example, following the formation of SAM on gold surfaces using thiol-modified DNA oligos and the hybridisation of PNA oligomers, dynamic incroporation using aldehyde- modified nucleobases may be used to characterise SNPs/nucleotides and/or to sequence nuclec acids. As described above, the incorporated base on the PNA strand may be detected by MALDI-TOF (for the use of gold surfaces and detection of PNA- DNA hybridization see Brandt et al/ Nucleic Acid Research, 2003, 31, el 19).

When conducting SNP analysis, the nucelobases may either be those modified nucleobases substantially described above i.e. having a dye attached to them, unmodified nucleobases or nucleobases modified to include a mass-tag, such as a bromide tag, to give a clear isotopic pattern (Figure 17).

The general structure of the modified nucleobases for use in mass-based SNP analysis (such as that involving techniques such as MALDI-TOF) are given in Figure 18.

One of skill will appreciate that a similar "mass-based" analysis approach may be used for sequencing and modified nucleobases which may be useful in such methods are detailed in Figure 19.

Claims

Claims
1. A modified base selected from the group consisting of:
Figure imgf000057_0001
Figure imgf000057_0002
Figure imgf000057_0003
Wherein Y is a functional group capable of reversible covalent reactions; X1-X4 is a detectable tag or spacer-tag combination; and Z is carbon or nitrogen.
2. The modified base of claim 1, wherein the detectable tag is a tag or label which is optically detectable.
3. The modified base of claims 1 or 2, wherein the detectable tag is one or more selected from the group consisting of dansyl, fluorescein, rhodamine, texas red, IAEDANS, cyanine dyes (Cy3, Cy3.5, Cy5, Cy5.5, Cy7), Bodipy dyes (Invitrogen) Alexa Fluor dyes (Invitrogen) and SNARF dyes.
4. The modified base of claim 1 wherein the detectable tag is a mass-tag.
5. The modified base of claims 1-4, wherein the functional group capable of reversible covalent reactions is selected from the group consisting of aldehydes, ketones, thiols and/or diols.
6. A modified PNA monomer having the following general formula:
Figure imgf000058_0001
wherein, "heterocycle" is a modified base (such as, for example, cytosine, adenine, guanine or thymine/uracil) ) which may comprise a detectable tag, n equals 1, 2 or 3 and further wherein, X represents a way of linkage between the heterocycle and the backbone comprising Rj and Y. Ri represents a group capable of reversible covalent reactions. By way of example, Ri may comprise groups such as an amine, a hydrazide, an alkoxymine, a boronic acid, a diol and/or a thiol. Y is a group capable of reversible covalent reactions.
7. A modified PNA monomer of claim 6, selected from the group consisting of:
Figure imgf000059_0001
Figure imgf000060_0001
Figure imgf000060_0002
and
Figure imgf000061_0001
wherein Ri-R4 is a group capable of reversible covalent reactions;
X1- X4 is one or more of the detectable tags of claims 2-4;
Z is carbon or nitrogen; and
Y is a functional group capable of reversible covalent reactions.
8. A modified PNA dimer having the general formula:
Figure imgf000061_0002
wherein NB i and NB2 are nucleobases and at least one of NB [ and/or NB2 is a modified nucleobase according to claims 1-5; Y is a functional group capable of reversible covalent reactions; and Ri is a group capable of reversible covalent reactions
9. The modified PNA monomer of claims 6 or 7 or dimer of claim 8, wherein Ri- R4 is selected from the group consisting of amine, hydrazide, alkoxymine, boronic acid, diol and/or thiol.
10. The modified PNA monomer or dimer of claims 6-9, wherein Y is selected from the group consisting of aldehyde, ketone, diol, boronic acid and thiol.
11. The modified PNA monomer or dimer of claims 6-9, wherein Ri-R4 is derivatised to comprise a protecting group or a protecting group further comprising one or more detectable tags according to claims 2, 3 or 4.
12. The modified PNA monomer or dimer of claim 11, wherein the protecting groups for use in derivatising Ri-R4 are selected from the group consisting of acetyl, N-[l-(4,4-dimethyl-2,6-dioxocyclohex-l-ylidene)ethyl] (Dde), fluorenylniethoxycarbonyl (Fmoc), trityl groups, disulfide (Ardec (aryldithioethyloxycarbonyl)) light cleavage protecting group (nitroveratyl based), butyloxycarbonyl (Boc), benzyloxycarbonyl (Cbz), trifluoroacetyl (Tfa) , phthalimide, benzyl, allyloxycarbonyl (Alloc), toluensulfonyl (Ts), methoxymethyl ether (MOM), tetrahydropyranyl ether (THP), allyl ether, butyl ether and benzylidene acetal
13. A peptide nucleic acid (PNA) oligomer having the following formula:
Figure imgf000063_0001
wherein NB is selected from the group consisting of adenine; guanine; thymine; cytosine and a modified nucleobase according to claims 1-5, and n is 1 or more.
14. The use of one or more of the modified bases/nucleobases of claim 1-5 and/or the PNA monomers/dimers of claims 6-13, in genetic analysis methods.
15. The use of claim 14, wherein the genetic analysis methods include the characterisation and identification of nucleobases of nucleic acids for purposes of characterising single nucleotide polymorphisms and/or sequencing nucleic acids.
16. A method of characterising a nucleotide in a nucleic acid sequence, said method comprising the steps of:
(c) contacting a nucleic acid with a peptide nucleic acid (PNA) oligomer capable of hybridising to a portion of the nucleic acid and lacking a base complementary to that of the nucleotide to be characterised, to form a nucleic acid/PNA duplex; and (d) contacting the nucleic acid/PNA duplex with modified bases according to claim 1-5; wherein the modified base which integrates with the nucleic acid/PNA duplex is complementary to that of the nucleotide to be characterised, the nucleotide being characterised by means of the detectable tag of the modified base.
17. A method of characterising a nucleotide of a nucleic acid, said method comprising the steps of:
(a) hybridising a nucleic acid sequence with a PNA or DNA oligomer complementary to a portion of the nucleic acid sequence upstream of the nucleotide to be characterised and further comprising a functional group capable of reversible covalent reactions, to form a nucleic acid/PNA or DNA duplex; and
(b) contacting the nucleic acid/PNA or DNA duplex with modified PNA monomers or dimers according to claims 6-11; wherein the modified PNA monomer which integrates with the nucleic acid/PNA or DNA duplex is complementary to the base of the nucleotide, said nucleotide being characterised by means of the detectable tag of the PNA monomer.
18. A method of sequencing a nucleic acid, said method comprising the steps of:
(a) hybridising a nucleic acid sequence with a PNA or DNA oligomer complementary to a portion of the nucleic acid to be sequenced and further comprising a functional group capable of reversible covalent reactions to form a nucleic acid/PNA or DNA duplex; and (b) contacting the nucleic acid/PNA or DNA duplex with modified PNA monomers or dimers of claims 10-11;
(c) identifying the PNA monomer or dimer which integrates with the nucleic acid/PNA or DNA duplex by means of the detectable tag; (d) removing the protecting group from monomers of claims 10-11 and
(e) repeating steps (b) and (c); wherein the PNA monomer or dimer identified in step (c) is complementary to at least one of the nucleobases of the nucleic acid sequence which may subsequently be identified by means of the detectable tag of the PNA monomer or dimer so as to sequence the nucleic acid.
19. The methods of claims 16, 17 and 18, wherein the detectable tag is identified by mass spectrometry or microscopy methods.
20. A kit providing reagents and components useful in methods for characterising a nucleotide of a nucleic acid and/or for sequencing a nucleic acid, said kit comprising components selected from the group consisting of:
(a) a peptide nucleic acid (PNA) oligomer capable of hybridising to a portion of a nucleic acid and lacking a nucleobase complementary to that of the nucleotide to be characterised;
(b) modified nucleobases according to the present invention;
(c) PNA monomers, dimers, trimers and/or oligomers as described herein;
(d) a PNA oligomer complementary to a portion of the nucleic acid sequence upstream of the nucleotide to be characterised and further comprising a functional group capable of reversible covalent reactions; and (e) instructions for use.
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