Étudiante-chercheure étoile December 2012

Andrea Greschner

Doctoral student in Chemistry at McGill University

Award-winning publication: The Role of Organic Linkers in Directing DNA Self-Assembly and Significantly Stabilizing DNA Duplexes

Published in: JACS, August 8 2012


"To create useful scaffolds, chemists have begun to introduce synthetic molecules into the DNA backbone. This method has allowed for applications such as the precise placement of metals along DNA strands. However, the effect of these modifications on the stability and self-assembly of DNA structures has never been examined. Here, we demonstrate that commonly-used DNA linkers can stabilize a DNA construct by up to 10 °C, and that changing the rigidity of the linker can allow for the targeting of specific DNA constructs, even for identical DNA sequences. Combined, these two benefits can be used for the design of more complex DNA structures without having to rely on the current method of intricate sequence design."

In the world of nanotechnology, DNA is a powerful template to organize nanomaterials with precisely programmed shapes and structures. Andrea Greschner's work helps to move nanotech to the next level by proposing a simple method to control both the stability and the self-assembly behaviors of DNA structures. Using this method, small molecules linking DNA strands can allow for the modification of thermal denaturation temperatures without having to change the strand sequence, greatly simplifying the design and increasing the degree of intricacy in DNA structures. For example, DNA is often used as a medical detection tool. Tuning the stability of DNA sensors could increase their sensitivity, allowing positive identification with even less sample than previously required.