Research Publication
Assistant Professor of Chemistry Aaron Leconte
In a recent issue of Biochemistry, scientists at the W. M. Keck Science Department have reported on discoveries that might allow for the protein-mediated synthesis of modified DNA, which has potentially broad biotechnological utility.

Chemically modified forms of DNA have potential applications in medical diagnostics and therapeutics, but cannot be synthesized by proteins found in Nature. While researchers have engineered DNA polymerases, proteins that synthesize DNA, to use some modified forms of DNA in the lab, they have not succeeded in creating a commercially viable enzyme. Recent work from the Leconte Group at the W. M. Keck Science Department revisits some of these previously engineered proteins, discovering that they are able to recognize modified forms of DNA that were not previously characterized. They went on to determine the molecular origins of the new activities. These studies are expected to be a significant step forward in the development of these potentially useful proteins.

The team was led by Assistant Professor of Chemistry Aaron Leconte and the manuscript was coauthored by nine students in Keck Science Dept: Hayley Schultz (CMC ’15), Andrea Gochi (PIT ’14), Hannah Chia (SCR ’16), Alexie Ogonowsky (SCR ’16), Sharon Chiang (CMC ’17), Nedim Filipovic (CMC ’17), Aurora Weiden (SCR ’17), Emma Hadley (SCR ’14), and Sara Gabriel (CMC ’15).  


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