DNA Reveals New Reactions | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: November 15, 2007

DNA Reveals New Reactions

Encoding procedure could aid the hunt for novel reactivity
Department: Science & Technology | Collection: Life Sciences

In 2004, David R. Liu and coworkers at Harvard University developed a DNA-based system for discovering new chemical reactions, but the conditions required for DNA base-pairing restricted its utility. Now, they have eliminated the need for base-pairing in their second-generation platform, which works in organic solvents and at high temperatures, conditions that are hostile to base-pairing (J. Am. Chem. Soc., DOI: 10.1021/ja074155j).

The new setup uses a redesigned DNA architecture in which the sequence of a single DNA strand serves as readable bar code for the identity of two reactants, A and B (shown); the first system encoded each reactant on separate strands. Hundreds of different pairs of reactants are covalently attached to encoding strands, but in each case, one reactant is connected by a biotin-bearing disulfide linker. The system enables the scientists to efficiently discriminate between reactant pairs that form a covalent bond (red) and those that don???t under a given set of conditions.

The team uncovered what they hope is the first of many new reactions—a mild coupling between indoles and some alkenes.

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