Structure and Interaction of Biomolecules at Surfaces - Miroslav Fojta
Structure and Interaction of Biomolecules at Surfaces - Miroslav Fojta


Research areas

  • Interactions of natural and chemically modified biopolymers with electrodes, relationships between biopolymer structure and its electrochemical, interfacial and electrocatalytic properties
  • Novel techniques in biopolymer labelling
  • Effects of DNA and/or protein chemical modification on the biopolymer molecular recognition features
  • Development of novel bioanalytical/bioelectroanalytical and diagnostic tools

Main objectives

  • Investigations into the behaviour of natural and chemically modified biomacromolecules at electrically charged surfaces linked to the development of novel electrochemical biosensors and bioassays.
  • Development of novel electrochemical biosensors, bioassays and diagnostic approaches.

Content of research

Nucleic acids and proteins are electrochemically active species due to the presence of reducible or oxidizable moieties (nucleobases, side groups of some amino acids). In addition to intrinsic biopolymer responses, electroactive markers have been utilized to obtain reversible electrode processes at less extreme potentials than those produced by DNA or protein itself. Electrochemical detection has been utilized for various analytical applications, including detection of DNA damage, sequence-specific DNA sensing, probing DNA interactions with drugs, etc. Considerable progress has also been achieved in the development of novel ways of working (detection) electrodes applicable in the area of biopolymer sensing. Recent literature reflects a remarkable boom in the development of electrochemical biosensors and bioassays, with a considerable contribution by the group. However, in contrast to a huge number of studies utilizing simple (e.g. oligonucleotide) models for the development of DNA sensors and testing their performance, studies demonstrating applications of electrochemical sensing on more “real” systems (such as large DNA or protein molecules) are still rather scarce.

Interactions of nucleic acids, proteins and their components with/at electrically charged surfaces will be studied in detail with respect to nucleotide/aminoacid composition/sequence, secondary, tertiary or higher-order structures. We will focus on elucidating the mechanisms of structural changes in the surface-confined biopolymers (DNA unwinding, the formation of non-B DNA structures, protein folding/unfolding) on applying an external electric field, as well as on the characterization of the surface structure and electric field effects on the interaction between a surface-confined molecule and its counterpart in solution.

Novel techniques of biopolymer labelling will be developed to design novel bioanalytical and diagnostic tools. We will use various techniques, including enzymatic incorporation of labelled nucleotides into nucleic acids using enzymes and direct chemical modification of natural nucleic acids and their synthetic analogues using oxoosmium complexes. Modified nucleic acids will be studied in detail concerning the effects of sitespecific, terminal or global modification on their molecular recognition features (such as DNA hybridization, mismatch sensitivity, protein-DNA recognition). Sensitive electrochemical or other detection techniques will be developed using label-specific analytical signals.