RNA and DNA are well-known for their coding roles within a cell, but in recent years, new roles for nucleic acids have been discovered.
Of particular interest are the catalytic abilities of nucleic acids in the forms of ribozymes (catalytic RNA) and deoxyribozymes (catalytic
DNA) and the binding abilities of nucleic acids in the form of aptamers. These nucleic acid enzymes and aptamers have been used in a variety
of biochemical applications and are finding new uses in areas such as biotechnology and nanotechnology.
One goal of the Baum lab is to use nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) for analytical applications. We will use both the catalytic and binding abilities of nucleic acids to develop aptazymes for the detection of pollutants in the environment.
Another interest of the Baum lab is exploring new catalytic activities for DNA that would be of use in areas of science outside of biochemistry. We intend to study the ability of DNA to catalyze reactions that would be useful in biofuel cells. These studies will expand the catalytic repertoire of DNA while providing novel catalytic components for biofuel cells.