DNA-supported photochemistry for protocell metabolism

Project one DNA/Protocell: Synthesis and investigation

This project pertains to the main task of the FlinT center: the design of functional protocell (see other webpages). In this project, we aim at exploring the possibility to sustain a photochemical metabolism using DNA strands as electron relay molecules. In particular, we want to synthesize DNA strands containing the 8-oxoguanine and ruthenium complexes and test their promotion of a photochemical reaction producing amphiphiles from their precursors.

  • DNA synthesis: First, two new phosphoimidate ”monomers” have to be synthesize a 8-oxoguanine and a ruthenium tris bipyridine. Second, the ”monomers” will be inserted into natural DNA sequences
  • Kinetics: The newly sequences will be tested for activity (promotion of of a photochemical reaction producing amphiphiles from their precursors). Then various DNA sequences will be synthesized to determine the impact on the same reaction

Contact: Pierre-Alain Monnard

Project two DNA/Protocell: Linking a DNA with the container of a protocell

The protocell envisioned a construction of a chemical system that is composed of nucleic acid strands as electron relay molecules.

  • Synthesis of bioconjugates: amphiphilic DNA
  • Investigation of their insertion in various bilayers
  • Study of the photochemical production of amphiphiles in this systems

Contact: Pierre-Alain Monnard

Project three DNA/Protocell: Replication of a DNA sequence

Nucleic acids have in theory the capacity of self-replicate. This property would be essential for the realization of a fully functional protocell. We envision a replication based on the ligation of small DNA oligomers on a DNA template attached to the container of the protocell.

  • Determination of the minimal length needed for each component
  • Ligation kinetic in aqueous medium or structured medium (see non-enzymatic RNA polymerization)
  • Investigation of the ligation reaction at the interface of the container (vesicle) or within reverse-micelles
  • Depending on the progress of our collaborators at LANL, implementation of the photochemical version of the ligation reaction

Contact: Pierre-Alain Monnard