Single-molecule studies of nucleic acid folding and nucleic acid-protein interactions
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Nucleic acids and proteins, some of the building blocks of life, are not static structures but highly dynamic entities that need to interact with one another to meet cellular demands. The work presented in this thesis focuses on the application of highly sensitive fluorescence methods, both at ensemble and single-molecule level, to determine the dynamics and structure of specific biomolecular interactions with nanometer resolution and in temporal scales from nanoseconds to minutes, which includes most biologically relevant processes. The main aims of my PhD can be classified in three areas: i) exploring new fluorescent sensors with increased specificity for certain nucleic acid structures; ii) understanding how some of these nucleic acids sense the presence of small molecules in the cellular environment and trigger gene regulation by altering their structure; and iii) understanding how certain molecular machines, such as helicase proteins, are able to unwind the DNA double helix by using chemical energy in the form of ATP hydrolysis.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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