Ferrocene Nucleic Acid (FcNA): An organometallic structural mimic of DNA

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James H. R. Tucker, Huy V. Nguyen, Zheng-yun Zhao, Antoine Sallustrau, James Carr-Smith, Sarah L. Horswell, Jonathan Kedge, Andrea Mulas

University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

There is currently immense interest in the development of artificial nucleic acid structures as analogues of natural forms. Until now, examples have been based on organic components, for example PNA and the various other forms of XNAs. As far as metal-based analogues of nucleic acids are concerned, attention has instead been largely focused on replacing nucleobases with metal-binding ligands. In an alternative approach, we have turned our attention to the synthesis of unprecedented metal-based nucleic acids, in which the nucleobases are retained but components of the sugar-phosphate backbone are replaced with metal-containing units. To this end, we recently reported the synthesis of FcNA, or ferrocene nucleic acid (Nguyen et al), that has a structure consisting of repeating iron-containing ferrocene units. Each unit is covalently linked to two nucleobases and connected to one another by a negatively charged phosphodiester group. Oligomers containing up to eight ferrocene units (i.e. 16 nucleobases in total) have been prepared, as well as FcNA-DNA conjugates. This talk will give an overview of our results on this new metal-containing nucleic acid form, involving a description of how the oligomers are made and initial results concerning their physicochemical properties, including their electrochemistry. H. V. Nguyen, Z. Zhao, A. Sallustrau, S. L. Horswell, L. Male, A. Mulas, J. H. R. Tucker, Chem. Commun., 2012, 48, 12165.