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Pure Appl. Chem., 2011, Vol. 83, No. 3, pp. 677-686

Published online 2011-02-01

Nitroxides and nucleic acids: Chemistry and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy

Snorri Th. Sigurdsson

Science Institute, University of Iceland, Dunhaga 3, 107 Reykjavik, Iceland

Abstract: Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy has increasingly been applied for the study of nucleic acid structure and dynamics. Such studies require incorporation of free radicals (spin labels) into the biopolymer. The labels can be incorporated during chemical synthesis of the oligomer (phosphoramidite approach) or postsynthetically, by reaction of a spin-labeling reagent with a reactive functional group on the oligonucleotide. Incorporation of the rigid nitroxide spin label Ç is an example of the phosphoramidite method, and reaction of a spin-labeled azide with an alkyne-modified oligomer to yield a triazole-derived, spin-labeled nucleotide illustrates the postsynthetic spin-labeling strategy. Characterization and application of these labels to study structural features of DNA by EPR spectroscopy is discussed. Finally, a new spin-labeling strategy is described for nucleic acids that relies on noncovalent interactions between a spin-labeled nucleobase and an abasic site in duplex DNA.