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Synthetic RNAi activators have shown considerable potential for therapeutic application to silencing of pathology-causing genes. Typically these exogenous RNAi activators comprise duplex RNA of approximately 21 bp with 2 nt overhangs at the 3' ends. To improve efficacy of siRNAs, chemical modification at the 2'-OH group of ribose has been employed. Enhanced stability, gene silencing and attenuated immunostimulation have been demonstrated using this approach. Although promising, efficient and controlled delivery of highly negatively charged nucleic acid gene silencers remains problematic. To assess the potential utility of introducing positively charged groups at the 2' position, our investigations aimed at assessing efficacy of novel siRNAs containing 2'-O-guanidinopropyl (GP) moieties. We describe the formation of all four GP-modified nucleosides using the synthesis sequence of Michael addition with acrylonitrile followed by Raney-Ni reduction and guanidinylation. These precursors were used successfully to generate antihepatitis B virus (HBV) siRNAs. Testing in a cell culture model of viral replication demonstrated that the GP modifications improved silencing. Moreover, thermodynamic stability was not affected by the GP moieties and their introduction into each position of the seed region of the siRNA guide strand did not alter the silencing efficacy of the intended HBV target. These results demonstrate that modification of siRNAs with GP groups confers properties that may be useful for advancing therapeutic application of synthetic RNAi activators.

Original publication




Journal article


Bioorg Med Chem

Publication Date





1594 - 1606


Drug Delivery Systems, Drug Stability, Gene Silencing, HEK293 Cells, Hepatitis B virus, Humans, Oligonucleotides, Organophosphorus Compounds, RNA, Small Interfering, Succinates