Université de Strasbourg

Distinguished Lecture - DNA Nanotechnology

April 18, 2016
ISIS, Salle de Conférence

Itamar Willner

Prof. Itamar Willner was born in Romania in 1947, and immigrated to Israel in 1950. He completed his studies in chemistry at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he received his Ph.D. degree in 1978. Following postdoctoral research training at the University of California, Berkeley, he joined the Institute of Chemistry at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1981, where he was appointed full professor in 1986. During the years 1997-2000 he acted as the Head of the Institute of Chemistry.

His research focuses on the development of molecular and biomolecular electronic systems aiming to establish fundamental principles for the construction of optical and electronic sensors, the self-assemby of functional nanoscale structures, and the design of materials and modified surfaces exhibiting unique optical, electronic and catalytic properties.

His scientific activities represent an interdisciplinary effort to bridge chemistry, biology and materials science, and his research pioneered the development of nanobiotechnology. His studies led to the development of a large variety of applications, ranging from sensors for clinical diagnostics and for the detection of explosives, to the construction of biofuel cells and the design of solar energy conversion and fuel production systems.

His accomplishments have been recognized with numerous awards and honors, among them the Israel Prize in Chemistry, the Rothschild Prize, the Kolthoff Prize, the Israel Chemical Society Award and the Max Planck Award for International Cooperation. He is a member of The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and of The European Academy of Sciences and Arts.

DNA Nanotechnology:  From Basic Concepts to Applications

The base sequences of oligonucleotides encode substantial structural and functional information into the biopolymers.  The self-assembly of oligonucleotides into supramolecular structures, such as G-quadruplexes, i-motif, triplex oligonucleotides and metal-ion-stabilized duplex oligonucleotides exemplify the sequence-dictated structural motive of the oligonucleotides.  Functional information encoded in DNA includes sequence-specific recognition and binding properties, e.g., aptamers, and sequence-controlled catalytic properties, e.g., DNAzymes.  These unique features of oligonucleotides are implemented to advance the rapidly developing area of DNA nanotechnology. The talk will highlight recent advances in the field and will address the future perspectives and applications of DNA nanotechnology.  The design of DNA machines and switching device (e.g., tweezers, walkers, pendulum) will be presented, and use of the system to switch biocatalytic processes and to activate enzyme cascades will be discussed.  Specifically, the synthesis of interlocked DNA catenane and rotaxane structures will be introduced, and the stimuli-triggered switchable reconfiguration of the structures will be addressed.  The programmed organization of Au nanoparticle structures by means of the reconfiguration of the DNA scaffolds, and the plasmonic control of Au nanoparticle/fluorophore couples associated with the DNA scaffolds, will be introduced.

The unique recognition and catalytic functions of oligonucleotides are used to develop a new paradigm in catalysis aimed to mimic enzyme functions by pre-designed oligonucleotide structures termed “nucleoapzymes”. The nucleoapzyme consists of DNAzyme-aptamer conjugates, aptamers conjugated to transition metal complexes or aptamer-aptamer conjugates.  The concentration and alignment of the substrates in respect to the catalytic sites associated with the nucleoapzymes lead to superior catalytic activities.

Finally, the design of stimuli-responsive DNA-based nanostructures and materials for various applications will be introduced.  These will include the development of stimuli-responsive oligonucleotide-gated mesoporous SiO2 nanoparticles, DNA-based microcapsules and DNA-based hydrogels as functional carriers for controlled drug release.  Specifically, the development of stimuli-responsive hydrogels and their use as shape-memory matrices will be discussed.


16h00 - Welcome with coffee

16h30 - Introduction by Professor Jean-Marie Lehn, Nobel laureate and professor of Chemistry of Complex Systems at USIAS

16h40 - Lecture by Itamar Willner

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