Formation of oligonucleotide-PNA-chimeras by template-directed ligation.J Am Chem Soc 1998; 120(19):4563-9JA
DNA sequences have previously been reported to act as templates for the synthesis of PNA, and vice versa. A continuous evolutionary transition from an informational replicating system based on one polymer to a system based on the other would be facilitated if it were possible to form chimeras, that is molecules that contain monomers of both types. Here we show that ligation to form chimeras proceeds efficiently both on PNA and on DNA templates. The efficiency of ligation is primarily determined by the number of backbone bonds at the ligation site and the relative orientation of template and substrate strands. The most efficient reactions result in the formation of chimeras with ligation junctions resembling the structures of the backbones of PNA and DNA and with antiparallel alignment of both components of the chimera with the template, that is, ligations involving formation of 3'-phosphoramidate and 5'-ester bonds. However, double helices involving PNA are stable both with antiparallel and parallel orientation of the two strands. Ligation on PNA but not on DNA templates is, therefore, sometimes possible on templates with reversed orientation. The relevance of these findings to discussions of possible transitions between genetic systems is discussed.