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1.  Physico-chemical foundations underpinning microarray and next-generation sequencing experiments 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(5):2779-2796.
Hybridization of nucleic acids on solid surfaces is a key process involved in high-throughput technologies such as microarrays and, in some cases, next-generation sequencing (NGS). A physical understanding of the hybridization process helps to determine the accuracy of these technologies. The goal of a widespread research program is to develop reliable transformations between the raw signals reported by the technologies and individual molecular concentrations from an ensemble of nucleic acids. This research has inputs from many areas, from bioinformatics and biostatistics, to theoretical and experimental biochemistry and biophysics, to computer simulations. A group of leading researchers met in Ploen Germany in 2011 to discuss present knowledge and limitations of our physico-chemical understanding of high-throughput nucleic acid technologies. This meeting inspired us to write this summary, which provides an overview of the state-of-the-art approaches based on physico-chemical foundation to modeling of the nucleic acids hybridization process on solid surfaces. In addition, practical application of current knowledge is emphasized.
PMCID: PMC3597649  PMID: 23307556
2.  Stability of double-stranded oligonucleotide DNA with a bulged loop: a microarray study 
BMC Biophysics  2011;4:20.
DNA is a carrier of biological information. The hybridization process, the formation of the DNA double-helix from single-strands with complementary sequences, is important for all living cells. DNA microarrays, among other biotechnologies such as PCR, rely on DNA hybridization. However, to date the thermodynamics of hybridization is only partly understood. Here we address, experimentally and theoretically, the hybridization of oligonucleotide strands of unequal lengths, which form a bulged loop upon hybridization. For our study we use in-house synthesized DNA microarrays.
We synthesize a microarray with additional thymine bases in the probe sequence motifs so that bulged loops occur upon target hybridization. We observe a monotonic decrease of the fluorescence signal of the hybridized strands with increasing length of the bulged loop. This corresponds to a decrease in duplex binding affinity within the considered loop lengths of one to thirteen bases. By varying the position of the bulged loop along the DNA duplex, we observe a symmetric signal variation with respect to the center of the strand. We reproduce the experimental results well using a molecular zipper model at thermal equilibrium. However, binding states between both strands, which emerge through duplex opening at the position of the bulged loop, need to be taken into account.
We show that stable DNA duplexes with a bulged loop can form from short strands of unequal length and they contribute substantially to the fluorescence intensity from the hybridized strands on a microarray. In order to reproduce the result with the help of equilibrium thermodynamics, it is essential (and to a good approximation sufficient) to consider duplex opening not only at the ends but also at the position of the bulged loop. Although the thermodynamic parameters used in this study are taken from hybridization experiments in solution, these parameters fit our DNA microarray data well.
PMCID: PMC3262748  PMID: 22166491
3.  Position dependent mismatch discrimination on DNA microarrays – experiments and model 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:509.
The propensity of oligonucleotide strands to form stable duplexes with complementary sequences is fundamental to a variety of biological and biotechnological processes as various as microRNA signalling, microarray hybridization and PCR. Yet our understanding of oligonucleotide hybridization, in particular in presence of surfaces, is rather limited. Here we use oligonucleotide microarrays made in-house by optically controlled DNA synthesis to produce probe sets comprising all possible single base mismatches and base bulges for each of 20 sequence motifs under study.
We observe that mismatch discrimination is mostly determined by the defect position (relative to the duplex ends) as well as by the sequence context. We investigate the thermodynamics of the oligonucleotide duplexes on the basis of double-ended molecular zipper. Theoretical predictions of defect positional influence as well as long range sequence influence agree well with the experimental results.
Molecular zipping at thermodynamic equilibrium explains the binding affinity of mismatched DNA duplexes on microarrays well. The position dependent nearest neighbor model (PDNN) can be inferred from it. Quantitative understanding of microarray experiments from first principles is in reach.
PMCID: PMC2661940  PMID: 19046422
4.  Impact of point-mutations on the hybridization affinity of surface-bound DNA/DNA and RNA/DNA oligonucleotide-duplexes: Comparison of single base mismatches and base bulges 
BMC Biotechnology  2008;8:48.
The high binding specificity of short 10 to 30 mer oligonucleotide probes enables single base mismatch (MM) discrimination and thus provides the basis for genotyping and resequencing microarray applications. Recent experiments indicate that the underlying principles governing DNA microarray hybridization – and in particular MM discrimination – are not completely understood. Microarrays usually address complex mixtures of DNA targets. In order to reduce the level of complexity and to study the problem of surface-based hybridization with point defects in more detail, we performed array based hybridization experiments in well controlled and simple situations.
We performed microarray hybridization experiments with short 16 to 40 mer target and probe lengths (in situations without competitive hybridization) in order to systematically investigate the impact of point-mutations – varying defect type and position – on the oligonucleotide duplex binding affinity. The influence of single base bulges and single base MMs depends predominantly on position – it is largest in the middle of the strand. The position-dependent influence of base bulges is very similar to that of single base MMs, however certain bulges give rise to an unexpectedly high binding affinity. Besides the defect (MM or bulge) type, which is the second contribution in importance to hybridization affinity, there is also a sequence dependence, which extends beyond the defect next-neighbor and which is difficult to quantify. Direct comparison between binding affinities of DNA/DNA and RNA/DNA duplexes shows, that RNA/DNA purine-purine MMs are more discriminating than corresponding DNA/DNA MMs. In DNA/DNA MM discrimination the affected base pair (C·G vs. A·T) is the pertinent parameter. We attribute these differences to the different structures of the duplexes (A vs. B form).
We have shown that DNA microarrays can resolve even subtle changes in hybridization affinity for simple target mixtures. We have further shown that the impact of point defects on oligonucleotide stability can be broken down to a hierarchy of effects. In order to explain our observations we propose DNA molecular dynamics – in form of zipping of the oligonucleotide duplex – to play an important role.
PMCID: PMC2435543  PMID: 18477387

Results 1-4 (4)