Phenoxy Radical Reactivity of Nucleic Acids: Practical Implications for Biotinylation

Brandon Wilbanks, Brian Garcia, Shane Byrne, Peter Dedon, L. James Maher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent advances in peroxidase-mediated biotin tyramide (BT) signal amplification technology have resulted in high-resolution and subcellular compartment-specific mapping of protein and RNA localization. Horseradish peroxidase (HRP) in the presence of H2O2 is known to activate phenolic compounds for phenoxy radical reaction with nucleic acids, where biotinylation by BT is a practical example. BT reactivity with RNA and DNA is not understood in detail. We report that BT phenoxy radicals react in a sequence-independent manner with guanosine bases in RNA. In contrast, DNA reactivity with BT cannot be detected by our methods under the same conditions. Remarkably, we show that fluorescein conjugates DNA rapidly and selectively reacts with BT phenoxy radicals, allowing convenient and practical biotinylation of DNA on fluorescein with retention of fluorescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1400-1404
Number of pages5
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 16 2021


  • conjugation
  • nucleic acids
  • peroxides
  • radicals
  • reaction mechanisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Organic Chemistry


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