Affiliation: Department of Human Molecular Genetics, Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Ul. Umultowska 89, 61-614 Poznan, Poland.
Peptide Nucleic Acids (PNAs) are molecules combining structural features of proteins and nucleic acid. They resemble DNA or RNA by forming helical polyamides containing nitrogen bases attached to the backbone consisting of N-(2-aminoethyl)-glycine monomers, which mimics the alternating ribose-phosphodiester-backbone of a nucleic acid. Because PNAs bind exceptionally strong to complementary DNA or RNA sequences obeying Watson-Crick base paring, they became attractive candidates for antisense and antigen therapies. PNAs are also being tested as novel antibiotics, gene-activating agents, and as molecular probes for FISH and imaging or biosensors used in diagnostics. Although PNAs offer many exiting medical applications, improving their cellular uptake and developing specific delivery strategies is crucial for a successful entry in the clinic in the near future.