Area of interest
Our research centers on understanding chemical reactions of nucleic acids with small molecules, especially transition metal complexes. Such reactions provide significant insight into the mechanisms of DNA damage, mutagenesis, and the action of many chemotherapy drugs. In addition, we have used these reactions to develop new methods for detecting nucleic acids in clinical samples based on hybridization and electrochemistry. These methods are being applied to the analysis of gene expression in tumors by monitoring the quantity of mRNA for a specific gene. Recently, we have applied these methods and principles to understanding the structure and function of telomeric DNA and find that oxidation of guanine in telomeres affects telomerase function and the activity of telomerase inhibitors. A significant new direction for our laboratory is the development of ionic liquids consisting of nucleic acids and redox-active metal complexes that are functionalized to induce formation of liquid phases. These new "liquid DNA" materials offer new methods for miniaturization of biomolecule devices and may be of use in highly multiplexed arrays.