IOCB Prague

Edward Curtis Group

Functional Potential of Nucleic Acids
Research Group
BIO cluster

About our group

Following the discovery of catalytic RNA in the early 1980s, nucleic acids capable of a wide range of functions have been identified. Examples include RNA and DNA molecules that bind ligands (aptamers) and that catalyze reactions (ribozymes and deoxyribozymes). We use a variety of biochemical and structural methods to learn more about the functional capabilities of both artificial and naturally occurring RNA molecules. One focus of my group is to generate functional nucleic acids that can be used for practical applications. Another is to better characterize the functional potential of noncanonical nucleic acid structures called G-quadruplexes, which occur frequently in genomes and are thought to play widespread biological roles.



All publications
Supernova: a deoxyribozyme that catalyzes a chemiluminescent reaction
Supernova: a deoxyribozyme that catalyzes a chemiluminescent reaction
Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2021: Early View
Functional DNA molecules are useful components in nanotechnology and synthetic biology. To expand the toolkit of functional DNA parts, in this study we used artificial evolution to identify a glowing deoxyribozyme called Supernova. This deoxyribozyme transfers a phosphate from a 1,2-dioxetane substrate to its 5′ hydroxyl group, which triggers a chemiluminescent reaction and a flash of blue light. An engineered version of Supernova is only catalytically active in the presence of an oligonucleotide complementary to its 3′ end, demonstrating that light production can be coupled to ligand binding. We anticipate that Supernova will be useful in a wide variety of applications, including as a signaling component in allosterically regulated sensors and in logic gates of molecular computers.