Innovative DNA Building Blocks as Biohybrid Catalysts

Eric Kool
Home Organization
Chemistry Department, Stanford University
Michael Smietana
Visiting Organization
Université Montpellier, Montpellier

The need for chiral compounds has escalated tremendously in recent years as many biological activities, flavors or fragrances are associated with their absolute molecular configuration. In chemistry, chirality (derived from the Greek, "kheir" "hand") refers to molecules that cannot be superimposed on their own mirror images. Historically, chiral compounds were generated by chemical transformation of a chiral precursor obtained from nature's chiral pool. Intensive research effort from academics and industrials led to new and efficient catalytic reactions culminating with the attribution of 2001 Nobel Prize in chemistry to Prs Knowles, Noyori and Sharpless. Conversely, in nature, chirality has been for a long time exclusively the realm of enzymes whereas the right-handed double helix of DNA (which encodes the synthesis of enzymes) is unambiguously the most well-designed but unexploited example of chirality. Recently, chirality transfer from DNA has been reported which opened new avenues in asymmetric catalysis. Based on the complementary expertise of the two teams, our project intends to develop new innovative and sustainable DNA-based catalytic systems and to provide information on the structural elements that play an important role in the catalytic activity.

Academic Year
2013-2014
Project Type