Nav: Home

RNA microchips

November 06, 2018

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is, along with DNA and protein, one of the three primary biological macromolecules and was probably the first to arise in early life forms. In the "RNA world"hypothesis, RNA is able to support life on its own because it can both store information and catalyze biochemical reactions. Even in modern life, the most complex molecular machines in all cells, the ribosomes, are made largely of RNA. Chemists at the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Vienna and at McGill University have developed a new synthetic approach that allows RNA to be chemically synthesized about a million times more efficiently than previously possible.

RNA is ubiquitous in cells. It is responsible for shuttling information out of the nucleus, regulating gene expression and synthesizing proteins. Some RNA molecules, particularly in bacteria, also catalyze biochemical reactions and sense environmental signals.

The chemical synthesis of DNA and RNA goes back to the early days of molecular biology, particularly the efforts by Nobel Laureate Har Gobind Khorana in the early 1960s to decipher the genetic code. Over the years, the chemistry has improved considerably but RNA synthesis has remained much more difficult and slow due to the need for an additional protecting group on the 2'-hydroxy of the ribose sugar of RNA. Chemists at Department of Inorganic Chemistry of the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Vienna and at McGill University have now been able to bring RNA synthesis a large step forward.

In order to increase the synthesis efficiency, the chemists joined two key concepts: photolithographic fabrication technology from semiconductor manufacture and the development of a new protecting group.

First, the chemists adapted the photolithographic fabrication technology from the semiconductor chip industry, commonly used for integrated circuit manufacture, for the chemical synthesis of RNA. Biological photolithography makes it possible to produce RNA chips with a density of up to one million sequences per square centimeter. Instead of using far ultraviolet light, which is used in the production of computer chips for silicon etching and doping, the researchers use UV-A light. "Shortwave ultraviolet light has a very destructive effect on RNA, so we are limited to UV-A light in the synthesis" explains Mark Somoza, of the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry.

In addition to the innovative use of photolithography, the researchers were also able to develop a new protecting group for the RNA 2'-hydroxyl group that is compatible with photolithographic synthesis. The new protecting group is acetal levulinyl ester (ALE), which also gives very high yields (over 99 percent) in the coupling reactions between the added RNA monomers in the extension of the RNA strand. "The combination of high-synthesis yield and ease of handling makes it possible to foresee the preparation of longer, and functional, RNA molecules on microchips" said Jory Liétard, post-doc of the group of Mark Somoza.
-end-
The research on RNA microarrays was funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF projects 23797, 27275 and 30596), the Swiss National Science Foundation (PBBEP2_146174), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada.

University of Vienna

Related Dna Articles:

Penn State DNA ladders: Inexpensive molecular rulers for DNA research
New license-free tools will allow researchers to estimate the size of DNA fragments for a fraction of the cost of currently available methods.
It is easier for a DNA knot...
How can long DNA filaments, which have convoluted and highly knotted structure, manage to pass through the tiny pores of biological systems?
How do metals interact with DNA?
Since a couple of decades, metal-containing drugs have been successfully used to fight against certain types of cancer.
Electrons use DNA like a wire for signaling DNA replication
A Caltech-led study has shown that the electrical wire-like behavior of DNA is involved in the molecule's replication.
Switched-on DNA
DNA, the stuff of life, may very well also pack quite the jolt for engineers trying to advance the development of tiny, low-cost electronic devices.
More Dna News and Dna Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#535 Superior
Apologies for the delay getting this week's episode out! A technical glitch slowed us down, but all is once again well. This week, we look at the often troubling intertwining of science and race: its long history, its ability to persist even during periods of disrepute, and the current forms it takes as it resurfaces, leveraging the internet and nationalism to buoy itself. We speak with Angela Saini, independent journalist and author of the new book "Superior: The Return of Race Science", about where race science went and how it's coming back.