Nora Liu
Cohort: 2022

DNAzymes are catalytic single-stranded nucleic acid biopolymers, analogous to protein enzymes as catalytic amino acid biopolymers. Since the discovery of the first DNAzyme in 1994, many new DNAzymes have been identified by in vitro selection for chemical reactions including phosphorylation, RNA ligation, thymine dimer photoreversion, the Diels-Alder reaction, and the aldol addition. To expand the scope of DNA-catalyzed reactions, I aim to use in vitro selection to identify DNAzymes capable of N-alkylation of DNA and RNA nucleobases by reductive amination with a small-molecule substrate. The identification of such DNAzymes will open new avenues for their potentially biological applications in DNA methylation, such as DNA-methylation-based diagnosis tools and therapeutic drugs.