Probing the structure of falcipain-3, a cysteine protease from Plasmodium falciparum: comparative protein modeling and docking studies.
Increasing resistance of malaria parasites to conventional antimalarial drugs is an important factor contributing to the persistence of the disease as a major health threat. The ongoing search for novel targets has resulted in identification and expression of several enzymes including cysteine proteases that are implicated in hemoglobin degradation. Falcipain-2 and falcipain-3 are considered to be the two principal cysteine proteases in this degradation, and hence, are potential drug targets. A homology model of falcipain-3 was built and validated by various structure/geometry verification tools as well as docking studies of known substrates. The correlation coefficient of 0.975 between interaction energies and K(m) values of these substrates provided additional support for the model. On comparison with the previously reported falcipain-2 homology model, the currently constructed falcipain-3 structure showed important differences between the S2 pockets that might explain the variations in the K(m) values of various substrates for these enzymes. Further, docking studies also provided insight into possible binding modes and interactions of ligands with falcipain-3. Results of the current study could be employed in de novo drug design leading to development of new antimalarial agents. (+info
MicroSAGE is highly representative and reproducible but reveals major differences in gene expression among samples obtained from similar tissues.
BACKGROUND: Serial analysis of gene expression using small amounts of starting material (microSAGE) has not yet been conclusively shown to be representative, reproducible or accurate. RESULTS: We show that microSAGE is highly representative, reproducible and accurate, but that pronounced differences in gene expression are seen between tissue samples taken from different individuals. CONCLUSIONS: MicroSAGE is a reliable method of comprehensively profiling differences in gene expression among samples, but care should be taken in generalizing results obtained from libraries constructed from tissue obtained from different individuals and/or processed or stored differently. (+info
Mining for single nucleotide polymorphisms and insertions/deletions in maize expressed sequence tag data.
We have developed a computer based method to identify candidate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and small insertions/deletions from expressed sequence tag data. Using a redundancy-based approach, valid SNPs are distinguished from erroneous sequence by their representation multiple times in an alignment of sequence reads. A second measure of validity was also calculated based on the cosegregation of the SNP pattern between multiple SNP loci in an alignment. The utility of this method was demonstrated by applying it to 102,551 maize (Zea mays) expressed sequence tag sequences. A total of 14,832 candidate polymorphisms were identified with an SNP redundancy score of two or greater. Segregation of these SNPs with haplotype indicates that candidate SNPs with high redundancy and cosegregation confidence scores are likely to represent true SNPs. This was confirmed by validation of 264 candidate SNPs from 27 loci, with a range of redundancy and cosegregation scores, in four inbred maize lines. The SNP transition/transversion ratio and insertion/deletion size frequencies correspond to those observed by direct sequencing methods of SNP discovery and suggest that the majority of predicted SNPs and insertion/deletions identified using this approach represent true genetic variation in maize. (+info
Directed nucleation assembly of DNA tile complexes for barcode-patterned lattices.
The programmed self-assembly of patterned aperiodic molecular structures is a major challenge in nanotechnology and has numerous potential applications for nanofabrication of complex structures and useful devices. Here we report the construction of an aperiodic patterned DNA lattice (barcode lattice) by a self-assembly process of directed nucleation of DNA tiles around a scaffold DNA strand. The input DNA scaffold strand, constructed by ligation of shorter synthetic oligonucleotides, provides layers of the DNA lattice with barcode patterning information represented by the presence or absence of DNA hairpin loops protruding out of the lattice plane. Self-assembly of multiple DNA tiles around the scaffold strand was shown to result in a patterned lattice containing barcode information of 01101. We have also demonstrated the reprogramming of the system to another patterning. An inverted barcode pattern of 10010 was achieved by modifying the scaffold strands and one of the strands composing each tile. A ribbon lattice, consisting of repetitions of the barcode pattern with expected periodicity, was also constructed by the addition of sticky ends. The patterning of both classes of lattices was clearly observable via atomic force microscopy. These results represent a step toward implementation of a visual readout system capable of converting information encoded on a 1D DNA strand into a 2D form readable by advanced microscopic techniques. A functioning visual output method would not only increase the readout speed of DNA-based computers, but may also find use in other sequence identification techniques such as mutation or allele mapping. (+info
An autonomous molecular computer for logical control of gene expression.
Early biomolecular computer research focused on laboratory-scale, human-operated computers for complex computational problems. Recently, simple molecular-scale autonomous programmable computers were demonstrated allowing both input and output information to be in molecular form. Such computers, using biological molecules as input data and biologically active molecules as outputs, could produce a system for 'logical' control of biological processes. Here we describe an autonomous biomolecular computer that, at least in vitro, logically analyses the levels of messenger RNA species, and in response produces a molecule capable of affecting levels of gene expression. The computer operates at a concentration of close to a trillion computers per microlitre and consists of three programmable modules: a computation module, that is, a stochastic molecular automaton; an input module, by which specific mRNA levels or point mutations regulate software molecule concentrations, and hence automaton transition probabilities; and an output module, capable of controlled release of a short single-stranded DNA molecule. This approach might be applied in vivo to biochemical sensing, genetic engineering and even medical diagnosis and treatment. As a proof of principle we programmed the computer to identify and analyse mRNA of disease-related genes associated with models of small-cell lung cancer and prostate cancer, and to produce a single-stranded DNA molecule modelled after an anticancer drug. (+info
Demonstration of a universal surface DNA computer.
A fundamental concept in computer science is that of the universal Turing machine, which is an abstract definition of a general purpose computer. A general purpose (universal) computer is defined as one which can compute anything that is computable. It has been shown that any computer which is able to simulate Boolean logic circuits of any complexity is such a general purpose computer. The field of DNA computing was founded in 1994 by Adleman's solution of a 7-bit instance of the Hamiltonian path problem. This work, as well as most of the subsequent experimental and theoretical investigations in the area, focused primarily upon the solution of NP-complete problems, which are a subset of the larger universal class of problems. In the present work a surface DNA computer capable of simulating Boolean logic circuits is demonstrated. This was done by constructing NOR and OR gates and combining them into a simple logic circuit. The NOR gate is one of the universal gates in Boolean logic, meaning that any other logic gate can be built from it alone. The circuit was solved using DNA-based operations, demonstrating the universal nature of this surface DNA computing model. (+info
Stochastic computing with biomolecular automata.
Stochastic computing has a broad range of applications, yet electronic computers realize its basic step, stochastic choice between alternative computation paths, in a cumbersome way. Biomolecular computers use a different computational paradigm and hence afford novel designs. We constructed a stochastic molecular automaton in which stochastic choice is realized by means of competition between alternative biochemical pathways, and choice probabilities are programmed by the relative molar concentrations of the software molecules coding for the alternatives. Programmable and autonomous stochastic molecular automata have been shown to perform direct analysis of disease-related molecular indicators in vitro and may have the potential to provide in situ medical diagnosis and cure. (+info
Rational design of DNA sequences for nanotechnology, microarrays and molecular computers using Eulerian graphs.
Nucleic acids are molecules of choice for both established and emerging nanoscale technologies. These technologies benefit from large functional densities of 'DNA processing elements' that can be readily manufactured. To achieve the desired functionality, polynucleotide sequences are currently designed by a process that involves tedious and laborious filtering of potential candidates against a series of requirements and parameters. Here, we present a complete novel methodology for the rapid rational design of large sets of DNA sequences. This method allows for the direct implementation of very complex and detailed requirements for the generated sequences, thus avoiding 'brute force' filtering. At the same time, these sequences have narrow distributions of melting temperatures. The molecular part of the design process can be done without computer assistance, using an efficient 'human engineering' approach by drawing a single blueprint graph that represents all generated sequences. Moreover, the method eliminates the necessity for extensive thermodynamic calculations. Melting temperature can be calculated only once (or not at all). In addition, the isostability of the sequences is independent of the selection of a particular set of thermodynamic parameters. Applications are presented for DNA sequence designs for microarrays, universal microarray zip sequences and electron transfer experiments. (+info