Permanent or reversible conjugation of 2′-O- or 5′-O-aminooxymethylated nucleosides with functional groups as a convenient and efficient approach to the modification of RNA and DNA sequences

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2′-O-Aminooxymethyl ribonucleosides are prepared from their 3′,5′-disilylated 2′-O-phthalimidooxymethyl derivatives by treatment with NH4F in MeOH. The reaction of these novel ribonucleosides with 1-pyrenecarboxaldehyde results in the efficient formation of stable and yet reversible ribonucleoside 2′-conjugates in yields of 69–82%. Indeed, exposure of these conjugates to 0.5 M tetra-n-butylammonium fluoride (TBAF) in THF results in the cleavage of their iminoether functions to give the native ribonucleosides along with the innocuous nitrile side product. Conversely, the reaction of 5-cholesten-3-one or dansyl chloride with 2′-O-aminooxymethyl uridine provides permanent uridine 2′-conjugates, which are left essentially intact upon treatment with TBAF. Alternatively, 5′-O-aminooxymethyl thymidine is prepared by hydrazinolysis of its 3′-O-levulinyl-5′-O-phthalimidooxymethyl precursor. Pyrenylation of 5′-O-aminooxymethyl thymidine and the sensitivity of the 5′-conjugate to TBAF further exemplify the usefulness of this nucleoside for modifying DNA sequences either permanently or reversibly. Although the versatility and uniqueness of 2′-O-aminooxymethyl ribonucleosides in the preparation of modified RNA sequences is demonstrated by the single or double incorporation of a reversible pyrenylated uridine 2′-conjugate into an RNA sequence, the conjugation of 2′-O-aminooxymethyl ribonucleosides with aldehydes, including those generated from their acetals, provides reversible 2′-O-protected ribonucleosides for potential applications in the solid-phase synthesis of native RNA sequences. The synthesis of a chimeric polyuridylic acid is presented as an exemplary model.

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