Cationic oligonucleotide derivatives and conjugates: A favorable approach for enhanced DNA and RNA targeting oligonucleotides

Mathias B. Danielsen, Jesper Wengel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) have the ability of binding to endogenous nucleic acid targets, thereby inhibiting the gene expression. Although ASOs have great potential in the treatment of many diseases, the search for favorable toxicity profiles and distribution has been challenging and consequently impeded the widespread use of ASOs as conventional medicine. One strategy that has been employed to optimize the delivery profile of ASOs, is the functionalization of ASOs with cationic amine groups, either by direct conjugation onto the sugar, nucleobase or internucleotide linkage. The introduction of these positively charged groups has improved properties like nuclease resistance, increased binding to the nucleic acid target and improved cell uptake for oligonucleotides (ONs) and ASOs. The modifications highlighted in this review are some of the most prevalent cationic amine groups which have been attached as single modifications onto ONs/ASOs. The review has been separated into three sections, nucleobase, sugar and backbone modifications, highlighting what impact the cationic amine groups have on the ONs/ASOs physiochemical and biological properties. Finally, a concluding section has been added, summarizing the important knowledge from thethree chapters, and examining the future design for ASOs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBeilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry
Pages (from-to)1828-1848
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Antisense oligonucleotides
  • Backbone modifications
  • Cations;nucleobase modifications
  • Sugar modifications


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