Synthetic Molecule Occupies Double-Stranded DNA

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Carnegie Mellon University researchers along with an international team of experts developed a synthetic molecule that can recognize and bind to double-stranded DNA or RNA under normal physiological conditions.

The new molecule created by the researchers can open new platforms for developing new approach for the treatment of genetic conditions. The findings were published in the journal Communications Chemistry on November 07, 2018.

The team included Danith Ly, Professor of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University; Shivaji Thadke, chemistry postdoc and an expert in peptide nucleic acid design; Arnab Mukherjee, computer scientists at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research at Pune; along with other research fellows. They studied the base pairs of DNA double-helical structure to design molecules that could bind to DNA and regulate the flow of genetic information.

“This is the first bifacial molecule that can invade double-stranded DNA or RNA under biologically relevant condition, says Ly. The team programmed synthetic analogs to DNA and RNA, and binds it with gamma peptide nucleic acids (gamma PNAs). They bind the programmed gamma PNAs to the genetic material that causes diseases, allowing these materials to navigate for detrimental sequences and bind to them to prevent malfunctioning of the genes.

The team developed Janus gamma PNAs, doubled faced gamma peptide nucleic acid, which could recognize and bind with both strands of a DNA or RNA molecule. The new set of bifacial nucleic acid recognition elements contained 16 combination of nucleobases present in the genetic code. The Janus gamma PNAs can be employed to recognize any set of base pairs as well as mixed and matched to detect and bind to complex genetic sequences. The researchers are hopeful that their findings could be used in pharmaceuticals industry for therapeutic benefits.

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