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Physics Colloquium Series: Professor Brian Cannon
(Physics Lecture Series) Loyola University Chicago, Department of Physics
“Unraveling Nucleic Acid Biophysics, One Molecule at a Time”
Genomic DNA in its duplex form encodes our biological blueprints but has limited structural variability. In contrast, the single-stranded form is highly dynamic and capable of adopting an array of structures depending on its size and sequence. Such single-stranded domains expand the conformational and functional capabilities of DNA and are required elements for assembly of complex structured nucleic acids. These domains can also present challenges to genomic integrity. Understanding the biophysical properties of these domains is critical to assess their role in disease mechanisms and to develop bioengineering applications, such as DNA nanostructures and functional DNAzymes. Using single-molecule fluorescence approaches for real-time, nanoscale imaging, the lab examines the conformational dynamics and energetics of different structures formed by individual DNA molecules. Recent projects exploring structured nucleic acids, such as multi-helical junctions and hairpins, as well as their regulatory role on protein-DNA interactions will be presented.