Read & Win: Fluorescent Analogs of Biomolecular Building Blocks: Design and Applications
Fluorescence spectroscopy is one of the key analytical techniques in unraveling the inner workings of organisms, cells and biomolecules with a significant advantage in sensitivity and quality of the data obtained. As many of the targets of investigation are not inherently fluorescent, research relies heavily on the synthesis of fluorescent analogs, which makes these targets available for the analysis with fluorescence spectroscopy. The book focuses on the design and application of fluorescent analogs of the biomolecular building blocks nucleic acids, proteins and lipids and discusses the most important fluorescent probes in the investigation of biological processes. The subject matter covered ranges from an introduction of fluorescence spectroscopy and the general synthesis of fluorescent analogs to the design and synthesis for fluorescent analogs for various applications, ranging small-molecule fluorophores and sensors as parts of biomolecular assemblies.
Marcus Wilhelmsson is a Professor of Biophysical Chemistry at Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden. He earned his Ph.D. in 2003 and thereafter entered the field of DNA-nanotechnology. In 2008 he joined Chalmers University of Technology as an Assistant Professor where he is now working on the design, characterization and application of novel fluorescent nucleic acid base analogs with a focus on FRET.
Yitzhak Tor is a Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the George W. and Carol A. Lattimer Professor at the University of California, San Diego. He earned his doctorate degree at the Weizmann Institute of Science (1990) and was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology (1990–1993). His research focuses on the chemistry and biology of nucleosides, nucleotides and nucleic acids using fluorescence-based techniques.
Interview with the Authors:
I&M: What is your main focus in research, what is your main scientific interest?
Wilhelmsson: I am working on the design, characterization and application of novel fluorescent nucleic acid base analogs and focus among other things on developing nucleic acid base analogs that can be used as FRET-pairs and on the application of these fluorophores in nucleic acid containing systems both in biochemistry/biology and nanotechnology.
For example I have recently applied a fluorescent base analog FRET-pair to study conformational changes between B- and Z-form DNA. Also, in collaborations with pharmaceutical industry in an effort to facilitate drug development, I utilize my fluorescent base analogs in the development of assays to screen for novel drug candidates.
Tor: The main focus of our current research is the design and synthesis of fluorescent nucleoside analogs and their implementation as biochemical and biophysical probes for the exploration of nucleic acid modifications, structure, dynamics and recognition. The main criteria directing the design of the emissive nucleosides are to maintain the highest possible structural and functional similarity to the natural counterparts while conferring upon them useful photophysical characteristics. Two distinct emissive RNA alphabets, fulfilling these criteria, have already developed in our lab, and have been strategically used to address questions in nucleic acids-related processes.
I&M: What was the reason to edit the book?
Wilhelmsson/Tor: The book encompasses a unique combination of fundamental theoretical and practical aspects of fluorescence spectroscopy while also addressing the development of new probes and their state of the art biophysical applications. This combination and the emphasis on the fluorescent molecules themselves rather than the fluorescence methodology and technique itself is unique to the book.
The combination of fluorescence spectroscopy and judiciously implemented fluorescent probes generates a powerful tool for studying the structure, dynamics and recognition of biomolecules. In contrast to common fluorophores, fluorescent analogs of the most common biomolecular building blocks (carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids and nucleosides), which are described in this book and resemble their native counterparts, have the potential to provide unprecedented insight into the biophysics and biochemistry of life processes. We felt there was a need to collect this knowledge in one book.
I&M: What is the target audience for the book?
Wilhelmsson/Tor: The prospective audience comprises of advanced students, postdoctoral fellows, and academic as well as industrial researchers in chemistry, biochemistry, biology and medicine. They are able to use the book as an introduction to the field of biomolecular fluorescence spectroscopy and as a reference for their own research.
I&M: What knowledge is prerequisite for the book?
Wilhelmsson/Tor: MSc level in Chemistry, Physics and/or Biology. A general knowledge in organic/medicinal chemistry and spectroscopy clearly helps working with the book.
I&M: What is the structure of the book?
Wilhelmsson/Tor: The introductory chapters give the necessary background to facilitate the entry of the novice into the field which is concerned with development and use of fluorescent probe molecules for biomolecular systems. The core chapters include contributions from leaders in the field who provide an up-to-date and comprehensive coverage of the state of the art in their respective areas.
I&M: Which fields have progressed the most?
Wilhelmsson/Tor: This is a hard question to address. It is frequently faster to synthesize a new probe than to gauge its true utility. There is typically an “induction period” between the introduction of a new fluorescent probe and its broad adoption by the community. A critical mass of independent investigations and publications are typically needed before the interested community accepts new tools.
Fluorescent Analogs of Biomolecular Building Blocks
Design and Applications
Edited by Marcus Wilhelmsson and Yitzhak Tor
448 pages / April 2016 / hardcover
Available as hardcover and E-book