Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Butenandtst. 5-13 (building F), D-81377 Munich, Germany
We are interested to study the function of DNA as a self-instructing material which encodes the genetic information. Our first line of interest is the stability of DNA and the function of repair enzymes, which are able to detect and to remove DNA lesions which endanger the stability of our genetic material. We are synthesizing specific DNA lesions, which are incorporated into DNA. Investigations with DNA polymerases and DNA repair enzymes help us to decipher the mutagenic potential and repair of individual lesion. We overexpress repair proteins and polymerases and prepare complexes of the lesion containing DNA with these proteins. These complexes are crystallized and the single crystals are subjected to X-ray crystallographic analysis. In this way we obtain pictures with atomic detail of how polymerases make mistakes which give rise to mutations and how repair proteins recognize the defects in our genome to avoid mutations.
Our second line of interest covers how DNA can be manipulated to allow the transport of electrons and the organization of magnetic materials. The general idea is to exploit the self organizing properties of DNA in order to assemble wires and nano-magnetic structures. New synthetic technologies are being developed that allow hypermodification of DNA with synthetic and biochemical tools.