The two chapters of this thesis focus on different aspects of DNA and the properties of nucleic acids as the whole. Chapter 1 focuses on the structure of DNA and its relationship to enzymatic efficiency. Chapter 2 centers itself on threose nucleic acid and optimization of a step in the path to its synthesis. While Chapter 1 discusses DNA and Uracil-DNA Glycosylase with regards to the base excision repair pathway, Chapter 2 focuses on chemical synthesis of an intermediate in the pathway to the synthesis of TNA, an analogous structure with a different saccharide in the sugar-phosphate backbone.
Chapter 1 covers the research under Dr. Levitus. Four oligonucleotides were reacted for zero, five, and thirty minutes with uracil-DNA glycosylase and subsequent addition of piperidine. These oligonucleotides were chosen based on their torsional rigidities as predicted by past research and predictions. The objective was to better understand the relationship between the sequence of DNA surrounding the incorrect base and the enzyme’s ability to remove said base in order to prepare the DNA for the next step of the base excision repair pathway. The first pair of oligonucleotides showed no statistically significant difference in enzymatic efficiency with p values of 0.24 and 0.42, while the second pair had a p value of 0.01 at the five-minute reaction. The second pair is currently being researched at different reaction times to determine at what point the enzyme seems to equilibrate and react semi-equally with all sequences of DNA.
Chapter 2 covers the research conducted under Dr. Chaput. Along the TNA synthesis pathway, the nitrogenous base must be added to the threofuranose sugar. The objective was to optimize the original protocol of Vorbrüggen glycosylation and determine if there were better conditions for the synthesis of the preferred regioisomer. This research showed that toluene and ortho-xylene were more preferable as solvents than the original anhydrous acetonitrile, as the amount of preferred isomer product far outweighed the amount of side product formed, as well as improving total yield overall. The anhydrous acetonitrile reaction had a final yield of 60.61% while the ortho-xylene system had a final yield of 94.66%, an increase of approximately 32%. The crude ratio of preferred isomer to side product was also improved, as it went from 18% undesired in anhydrous acetonitrile to 4% undesired in ortho-xylene, both values normalized to the preferred regioisomer.