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Transition metal-catalyzed modifications of the activated heterocyclic bases of nucleosides as well as DNA or RNA fragments employing traditional cross-coupling methods have been well-established in nucleic acid chemistry. This review covers advances in the area of cross-coupling reactions in which nucleosides are functionalized via direct activation of the C8-H bond in purine and the C5-H or C6-H bond in uracil bases. The review focuses on Pd/Cu-catalyzed couplings between unactivated nucleoside bases with aryl halides. It also discusses cross-dehydrogenative arylations and alkenylations as well as other reactions used for modification of nucleoside bases that avoid the use of organometallic precursors and involve direct C-H bond activation in at least one substrate. The scope and efficiency of these coupling reactions along with some mechanistic considerations are discussed.


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