NUCLEIC ACID SYNTHESIS
The aim of the Nucleic Acid Synthesis Laboratory is to deliver high-quality DNA- and RNA oligomers quickly and directly for the ongoing BRC projects. We produce a great variety of specifically modified nucleic acid sequences on demand by chemical synthesis. We are also committed to the research of new applications of chemically modified oligonucleotides as structural elements and as genomic tools in various living organisms. In order to realize this goal, we also take part in various scientific collaboration projects with a number of research laboratories.
In 1967, when a large research group of chemists headed by H. G. Khorana announced their project to produce the first chemically synthesized gene, there were a lot of scientists who expressed their doubts whether such a synthetic product would ever find real biological use. When we take a look at the development of molecular biology, we can firmly state that today’s achievements could not be reached without the results of synthetic nucleic acid chemistry.
Figure 1. Small and high-throughput automated nucleic acid synthesizers capable of 2 and 48 simultaneous syntheses, respectively. The small plastic synthesis columns (blue arrow) and the reagent flasks (red arrows) can be observed.
The elements of modern nucleic acid synthesis
In the Nucleic Acid Synthesis Laboratory we use the most up-to-date chemistry for synthesizing pieces of DNA with defined base-sequences. The chain length of these molecules ranges from 6 to 200 nucleotides. Key elements of modern synthesis are the carefully optimized chemistry called phosphoramidite method, the solid supported procedure which means that the growing chain is attached to a suitable solid particle throughout the procedure, and finally the full automation of the process. For this purpose, we use a high-throughput nucleic acid synthesizer for large scale production and a smaller instrument with high flexibility for building oligonucleotides bearing various chemical modifications.
Natural and modified sequences
Oligonucleotides with natural structure, the working horses of molecular biology are involved in many known procedures as primers, probes and even total synthetic genes. On the other hand, chemically modified structures enable new applications – labeling, visualization, stabilization, conjugation, enzyme- and structural studies. As a collaboration partner, we synthesize almost all types of oligonucleotide derivatives, elaborate new compounds and actively participate in developing novel methods in diverse fields of molecular biology.
Targeted inhibition of gene expression
Perhaps this application is the most exciting area of oligonucleotide research. These types of compounds are able to act directly on living cells and organisms as active compounds or drugs. Oligonucleotides bind to the nucleic acids of the cells in a sequence-selective fashion, and thereby cause specific inhibition of gene expression. Our own research project is devoted to the research of various applications of this phenomenon. The so-called antisense oligonucleotide and small inhibitory RNA projects are focused mainly to plant systems, and the final goal is to develop a novel genomic research tool.