This proposal describes single-molecule studies of gene-expression mechanisms and DNA nanodevices. The completion of the human genome project has propelled the scientific community to the next frontier of biomedicine: understanding the regulation of gene expression, i.e., how, where, and when genetic information on DNA is converted into functional proteins, and how gene expression is linked to organism development and disease.
Detailed studies of gene expression are usually precluded by excessive heterogeneity, large size, and transient nature of the gene-expression machinery. Such challenges are addressable by single-molecule methods, which remove the ensemble averaging of bulk methods and record real-time movies of single biomachines at work. I propose to study medically important gene-expression mechanisms using single-molecule spectroscopy equipped with alternating-laser excitation (ALEX), a method that I developed as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). I also propose to use ALEX-based spectroscopy to study the ability of DNA-based nanodevices to transport electrons and energy, thus contributing to an emerging field of Bionanotechnology with major scientific and technological implications.
All projects are high interdisciplinary, requiring expertise in physics, biophysics, chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, statistics, and computer science, and thus offering an excellent opportunity for training the next generation of researchers in the field s of biotechnology and nanotechnology.
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