Reverse C-glycosidase reaction provides C-nucleotide building blocks of xenobiotic nucleic acids

Martin Pfeiffer, Bernd Nidetzky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


C-Analogues of the canonical N-nucleosides have considerable importance in medicinal chemistry and are promising building blocks of xenobiotic nucleic acids (XNA) in synthetic biology. Although well established for synthesis of N-nucleosides, biocatalytic methods are lacking in C-nucleoside synthetic chemistry. Here, we identify pseudouridine monophosphate C-glycosidase for selective 5-β-C-glycosylation of uracil and derivatives thereof from pentose 5-phosphate (d-ribose, 2-deoxy-d-ribose, d-arabinose, d-xylose) substrates. Substrate requirements of the enzymatic reaction are consistent with a Mannich-like addition between the pyrimidine nucleobase and the iminium intermediate of enzyme (Lys166) and open-chain pentose 5-phosphate. β-Elimination of the lysine and stereoselective ring closure give the product. We demonstrate phosphorylation-glycosylation cascade reactions for efficient, one-pot synthesis of C-nucleoside phosphates (yield: 33 – 94%) from unprotected sugar and nucleobase. We show incorporation of the enzymatically synthesized C-nucleotide triphosphates into nucleic acids by RNA polymerase. Collectively, these findings implement biocatalytic methodology for C-nucleotide synthesis which can facilitate XNA engineering for synthetic biology applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6270
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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