August 16, 2009

Illinois scientists discover new DNA tool

A new discovery may make it easier for scientists to manipulate DNA in the laboratory, a paper from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne said.

Three scientists at the university discovered catalytic DNA known as deoxyribozymes that can cleave DNA strands to become catalysts for research.

The scientists, chemistry Professor Scott Silverman, postdoctoral research associate Madhavaiah Chandra and graduate student Amit Sachdeva were searching for artificial sequences of DNA to cleave proteins. They now hope their discovery will cleave double-stranded DNA.

Our work suggests that deoxyribozymes have significant potential as sequence-specific DNA cleavage reagents, Silverman said.

Their paper, which was accepted for publication in Nature Chemical Biology and posted on the journal's Web site, explains that a catalyst that can find the proper site and sequence in the DNA has the potential for creating better tools for manipulating DNA. Molecular biology research requires scientists to cut and past portions of double-stranded DNA, the researchers' paper explained.