In recent years modified oligonucleotides (oligos) have become an area of increased research activity. These synthetic biopolymers have long been used as molecular probes to understand better the interaction between proteins and nucleic acids at molecular level, which in fact is responsible for all aspects of cellular or viral gene expression. Modified oligos have also been used as therapeutic and diagnostic agents. For example, the antisense oligos are used to block gene expression by binding especially with complimentary sequences of target mRNA. Also, over the past decade efforts are made to modify the native phosphodiester linkages to improve nuclease resistance and membrane permeation of naturally occurring oligonucleotide for therapeutic applications. Therefore, design and synthesis of modified oligonucleotides for a wide range of applications are of interest for bioorganic chemists and biologists. The advent of the phosphoramidite chemistry has accelerated the development of oligos with modified nucleobases, phosphate-protecting groups and modified sugars. In this review, we have presented the recently reported nucleoside based phosphoramidites with modified base, sugar or backbone units and their subsequent conversion into modified DNA and RNA analogs. The effect of such modification on structural, thermodynamic, and hybridization properties of the modified oligos and their duplex with natural complementary oligos have also been discussed for some cases. Similarly, we have highlighted the role of modified nucleoside phosphoramidite building blocks in synthesis of oligos modified with optically or electrochemically active molecules. Nucleoside phosphoramidites or small oligos immobilized over solid supports through different linkages or groups and their biological applications has also been mentioned.
Keywords: phosphoramidites, nucleosides, nucleotides, dna, rna, oligonucleotides
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