Metallo-DNAzymes and Sensors

We are interested in using in vitro selection to obtain DNAzymes (DNA molecules with enzymatic activities, also called catalytic DNA and deoxyribozymes) that are highly specific not only for different metal ions (e.g., Na+ over Li+ or K+), but also different oxidation statement of metal ions (e.g., Fe2+ over Fe3+ and vice versa).

In the process, we strive to understand structural features responsible for such a high selectivity for metal ions and reaction mechanisms, by using many spectroscopic methods (e.g. UV-vis, EPR, XAS), and x-ray crystallography.

Armed with this knowledge, we are developing highly sensitive and selective sensors and imaging agents for metal ions and other small molecular targets for environmental monitoring, food safety, medical diagnostics and imaging.

For general reviews in this area, please see the following articles in Curr. Opin. Chem. Engin., DNA Nanotechnology, Chemical Reviews, and Biotech. Advances.


General in vitro selection procedure (left), selected DNAzymes for metal binding (right)
Catalytic Beacon Sensors


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