Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chemists slide a splitting catalyst over DNA for first time

Date:
September 24, 2013
Source:
Radboud University Nijmegen
Summary:
Chemists have developed a catalyst that binds to DNA, slides over it, and splits the molecule in particular places. The researchers were able to do this by synthetically modifying a natural catalyst. This finding is a first in the field of chemistry and will help in the selective modification of polymers such as DNA.

This finding is a first in the field of chemistry and will help in the selective modification of polymers such as DNA.
Credit: © Sergey Nivens / Fotolia

Chemists from Nijmegen have developed a catalyst that binds to DNA, slides over it and splits the molecule in particular places. The researchers were able to do this by synthetically modifying a natural catalyst. This finding is a first in the field of chemistry and will help in the selective modification of polymers such as DNA. The results were published online in Nature Chemistry on 22 September.

Roeland Nolte, Emeritus Professor of Organic Chemistry at Radboud University Nijmegen, is the leader of the research project. As he explains, 'Natural enzymes exist that are able to replicate -- that is make a copy of -- DNA. These enzymes consist of a ring to which another enzyme, the replicating catalyst, is clamped. We modified the natural ring and introduced porphyrines, with the result that the system is able to split DNA. We have therefore constructed our own, modifiable, biohybrid catalyst, inspired by nature.'

DNA signposting

The tiny molecular machine is actually not a ring, but a c-shape with a narrow opening. This means that it can easily bind to and slide over DNA. While it is sliding, the machine only splits at a specific sequence: the letters AAA in the DNA -- a repetitive sequence of three adenine molecules. Adenine is one of the four DNA building blocks. 'We can also influence the direction of the catalyst, by sliding it from the left or the right over the DNA', says Nolte. 'We do this by molecularly blocking one side of the DNA so that the catalyst can only move in the other direction.'

Visible splitting positions

The chemists have developed a new technique that shows exactly where the molecular machine has performed the splitting action. The splitting produces a functional group in the DNA that, following treatment with the streptavidin protein, can be visualised using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). AFM can be used to investigate the surface of a molecule in detail because the microscope scans the surface using a needle. Using this technique, the researchers were able to detect the splitting locations in the DNA and thereby determine whether or not the machine was indeed moving in the intended direction.

Molecular computer

Molecular machines like this catalyst are very useful in organic chemistry as they make it possible to split DNA in a controlled manner. Nolte explains, 'Our ultimate goal is a fully synthetic catalyst. We would be able to use this in various solvents, whereas the catalyst we currently use only works in a water solution. The synthetic catalyst I have in mind would be a kind of molecular computer that uses the information input to perform precise tasks. We could then use this to modify polymer chains as we please, for example to strengthen them or to store information in them.'


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Radboud University Nijmegen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stijn F. M. van Dongen, Joost Clerx, Kasper Nψrgaard, Tom G. Bloemberg, Jeroen J. L. M. Cornelissen, Michael A. Trakselis, Scott W. Nelson, Stephen J. Benkovic, Alan E. Rowan, Roeland J. M. Nolte. A clamp-like biohybrid catalyst for DNA oxidation. Nature Chemistry, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1752

Cite This Page:

Radboud University Nijmegen. "Chemists slide a splitting catalyst over DNA for first time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130924122619.htm>.
Radboud University Nijmegen. (2013, September 24). Chemists slide a splitting catalyst over DNA for first time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130924122619.htm
Radboud University Nijmegen. "Chemists slide a splitting catalyst over DNA for first time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130924122619.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) — Police in Gary, Indiana are using cadaver dogs to search for more victims after a suspected serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) — Visitors to Belgrade zoo meet a pair of three-week-old lion cubs for the first time. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) — Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins