The Beilstein Organic Chemistry Symposium 2016 was inspired by the Thematic Series “Nucleic acid chemistry” in the Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry. Organized by Professor Hans-Achim Wagenknecht (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), the symposium took place with 51 participants in Prien am Chiemsee (Germany, Bavaria) from 5th to 7th October 2016.
Since the discovery of solid-phase DNA (and later RNA) synthesis by methods of organic chemistry, the field of nucleic acid chemistry exploded. Natural and artificial functionalities as well as probes, markers or other biologically active molecules can be introduced synthetically into DNA, and in the meantime also into RNA, by preparing the corresponding artificial DNA building blocks. More recently, the chemistry was further developed for the case that building blocks are synthetically not obtainable. The so-called postsynthetic methodologies allow the modification of oligonucleotides even for those cases. This is especially important for functionalities, probes or biologically relevant molecules that are not compatible with the routinely applied phosphoramidite chemistry. Although nucleic acid chemistry seems to be already a mature part of organic and bioorganic chemistry, actual questions that are raised by research in biology and chemical biology give enough reasons to synthesize new nucleic acid probes and thereby further develop nucleic acid chemistry. Moreover, beside its biological functionality, DNA and RNA are considered as an increasingly important architecture and scaffold for two- and three-dimensional objects, networks and materials for nanosciences.
These broad aspects of nucleic acid chemistry were covered by the topics of five different sessions that included 21 invited speakers. In the first session “new nucleic acid building blocks”, Annemieke Madder reported on modified nucleic acids for crosslinks and Elmar Weinhold talked about sequence-specific labeling of DNA by methyltransferases. Sabine Müller described trinucleotide phosphoramidites and Michal Hocek allowed an insight into polymerase-assisted synthesis of modified nucleic acids. The second session on Wednesday covered “nucleic acid analogs and lipids”. The lipid aspect was discussed by Helmut Rosemeyer and Tirayut Vilaivan showed how the constrained pyrrolidinyl PNA binds to DNA. Hiroyuki Asanuma followed this path by a report on threolinol and serinol nucleic acid analogs and Jesper Wengel extended the topic by peptide-nucleic acid conjugates. In the evening, a poster session with 21 presentations took place – the first time within the Beilstein Organic Chemistry Symposia. The open end timeline in the evening after dinner allowed intense discussions about all aspects of nucleic acids by PhD researchers, postdocs and junior professors together with the invited speakers. It became clear that a poster session is not only important but a crucial part of the program for this type of conference.