On the basis of the findings from X-ray diffraction experiments by Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin, James Watson and Francis Crick first described the nowadays well-known structure of DNA. Its double-stranded helix consists of four different nucleosides in repeating units interconnected by a phosphate ester backbone. Both double and single stranded DNA and RNA are subjects of the broader area of nucleic acid chemistry. Apart from the biological information transfer, nucleic acids provide a wide playground for experimentalists. The structure and function of the chains of nucleotides can be changed directly by chemical synthesis or indirectly by using enzymes. For example, new synthetic nucleic acids are used as probes for regulation of genes, diagnosis of DNA-related diseases and for the development of drugs.
DNA molecules have self-assembly abilities. “DNA origami” can be used to transform a linear and long-chained molecule into a three-dimensional structure. This often results in unexpected frameworks with surprising properties and capabilities. For example, they are able to expedite protein crystallization and can be used as containers for drug delivery.
Thematic Series „Nucleic Acid Chemistry“
This Thematic Series in the Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry was edited by Hans-Achim Wagenknecht from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.
During the past years, the field of nucleic acid chemistry has expanded dramatically: artificial functionalities can be attained by synthetically introducing artificial building blocks into DNA and RNA, which makes possible their use as probes, markers or other biologically active molecules. More recently, the chemistry of nucleic acids has been extended using further structural components that are synthetically not obtainable. In such cases, post-synthetic strategies are needed to obtain the desired oligonucleotide modification.
„Nanoparticle superlattice engineering with DNA“
The group of Chad A. Mirkin from Northwestern University have shown that DNA is an ideal ligand for the development of a predictable nanoparticle assembly strategy. The synthetically controllable variations in nucleotide sequence can easily change the overall hydrodynamic size and coordination environment of the particles without the need to alter the structure of the inorganic nanoparticle core.
Robert J. Macfarlane presented this result on the Beilstein Bozen Symposium 2012 on “Molecular Engineering and Control”. Chad A. Mirkin is a member of the Advisory Board of the Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology.
Beilstein Organic Chemistry Symposium 2016 - Nucleic Acids
This international meeting with 21 invited speakers will take place from 5 – 7 October, 2016 in Prien, Chiemsee in Germany. It will cover new developments in the field, ranging from the light-driven functionalities in nucleic acids, nucleic acid analogs, catalytically active nucleic acids, nucleic acid architectures to new building blocks including bioorthogonal reactivity.