Professor, Chemistry Department
212 Physical Sciences Laboratory Building
Joined the faculty in 1987
Ph.D., Yale University, New Haven (1986)
A.M., Harvard University (1980)
B.S., Ohio State University (1977)
Nucleic Acids (DNA and RNA) play diverse roles in living organisms. Not only do they encode genetic information but they actively participate in its readout from transcription to translation, including splicing, editing, and regulation at each stage. Single-stranded DNA and RNA molecules fold into complex 3-dimensional structures to carry out these roles. We are investigating the logic of the 3D architecture of these molecules using an integrated biophysical, biochemical, and bioinformatic approach. These complex structures are able to specifically bind other molecules, including potential drug molecules. Photosensitizers that can specifically bind DNA or RNA molecules have tremendous potential for overcoming present limitations of photodynamic therapy, by directing damage to molecules specific to the target cells. We are investigating the binding of potent photosensitizers to complex nucleic acids using biophysical and biochemical methods. See also: Geometric Classification of Non-Canonical Basepairing.
A Three-Dimensional RNA Motif in Potato spindle tuber viroid Mediates Trafficking from Palisade Mesophyll to Spongy Mesophyll in Nicotiana benthamiana. Takeda R, Petrov AI, Leontis NB, Ding B. Plant Cell. 2011 Jan;23(1):258-72. Epub 2011 Jan 21.
Engineering cooperative tecto-RNA complexes having programmable stoichiometries. Novikova IV, Hassan BH, Mirzoyan MG, Leontis NB. Nucleic Acids Res. 2010 Dec 7.
R3D Align: global pairwise alignment of RNA 3D structures using local superpositions. Rahrig RR, Leontis NB, Zirbel CL.Bioinformatics. 2010 Nov 1;26(21):2689-97. Epub 2010 Oct 6.
Molecular dynamics simulations suggest that RNA three-way junctions can act as flexible RNA structural elements in the ribosome. Besseová I, Réblová K, Leontis NB, Sponer J. Nucleic Acids Res. 2010 Oct;38(18):6247-64. Epub 2010 May 27.
The RNA Ontology (RNAO): An Ontology for Integrating RNA Sequence and Structure Data. Robert Hoehndorf, Colin Batchelor, Thomas Bittner, Michel Dumontier, Karen Eilbeck, Rob Knight, Chris J.Mungall, Jane S. Richardsonh, Jesse Stombaugh, Eric Westhof, Craig L. Zirbel, and Neocles B. Leontis. Applied Ontology (2011, In press).