DNA & NAS: Kent State Professors Publish Comprehensive Research Article

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

It doesn’t take a scientist to understand the importance of DNA, as it acts as the very foundation for the existence of any living organism. However, it does take one to produce publications involving smectic liquid crystal ordering in dense solutions of “gapped” DNA duplexes.

Samuel Sprunt

Samuel Sprunt, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Physics, along with several other cross-disciplinary faculty members and graduate students Prabesh Gyawali and Rony Saha, recently published a research article in the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). 

This article, published in March of 2021, delves into the complexities surrounding the effects of temperature on the self-assembly of layered structures in densely packed DNA solutions.

The recent publication, “Mono- and bilayer smectic liquid crystal ordering in dense solutions of “gapped” DNA duplexes,” studies the effect of temperature as it relates to the end-to-end attractions between DNA duplexes that stabilize the layered (smectic) structure.

Countless hours of research and collaboration resulted in the identification of temperature sensitivity in DNA layers.

“Any new information we can learn about DNA behavior is beneficial,” Sprunt said. “The elementary smectic phase had not been definitely identified in previous research. We knew very little about the existence of said phase layered in DNA solutions, even though it is quite common in other types of liquid crystals.”

The researchers found that the end-to-end attraction between duplexes depends on the temperature of the solution. As the temperature increases, the layered structure begins to fall apart. This may potentially have important ramifications for biological processes involving DNA-DNA interactions.

The cross disciplinary perspectives provided by the authors played an essential role in producing these findings. An enhanced understanding of the liquid crystalline behavior of DNA will improve our knowledge about interactions between the molecules of life.

Learn more about The Department of Physics. 

Learn more about The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 23, 2021 - 3:16pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, June 29, 2021 - 10:49am
WRITTEN BY:
Theresa Lovrak