Fall '19 Department Seminars with Dr. Özgül Persil Çetinkol

Title: From Small Molecule-Nucleic Acid Interactions to Detection Platforms

Speaker: Dr. Özgül Persil Çetinkol, Associate Professor

Department of Chemistry, Middle East Technical University

Ankara, Türkiye

Date: November 12, 2019, Tuesday

Time: 12:40

Place: Departmental Seminar Room (SB-Z14)


Design of small molecules that bind to nucleic acids (DNA & RNA) has been an active area of research for more than 50 years, largely due to the activity of such small molecules as therapeutic drugs or as mutagenic agents. The role of DNA and RNA in many cellular functions represents an opportunity for the treatment of diseases of genetic origin by targeting specific nucleic acid structures with small molecules.

Particularly, the binding of small molecules to non-canonical nucleic acid structures (i.e. non-B-form and non-A- form structures), such as triplex and quadruplex DNA, has been a major focus of rational drug design. In addition to their biological and medicinal importance, nucleic acids have also emerged as the material of choice for the creation of supramolecular assemblies in nanotechnology. Small molecule-DNA interactions therefore represent another dimension for expanding the functionality and dynamics of DNA-based nanotechnology. The research in our lab is focused on the design and synthesis of new drug candidate molecules, elucidating their interactions with nucleic acids (DNA & RNA), understanding the basic chemical and physical principles affecting nucleic acid-small molecule interactions and developing sensing platforms for such small molecules and nucleic acids. In this talk, the ability of azacyanines which are benzimidazole and benzothiazole derivatives, to bind to triplex and quadruplex DNA structures, and inhibit the Topoisomerase Ila will be discussed. In addition, two detection platforms will be presented; one for the detection of anti-inflammatory and anti-leukemic coralyne and the second one for the detection of G-quadruplex structures.

Short Biography of the Speaker:

Özgül Persil Çakmak obtained her B.Sc. degree in Chemistry Department from Koç University. She got her M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from Chemistry and Biochemistry Department of Georgia Institute of Technology, focusing on the design and synthesis of small molecules (drugs) and the biophysical characterization of small molecule-nucleic acid interactions. She worked at Lawrence National Research Laboratory, as a postdoctoral researcher working on the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass efficiently into biofuels via fermentable sugars. In 2013, she started to work at Dogus University as an assistant professor. Then, she replaced in Zentiva Health Products as a R&D Specialist. In May 2015, she moved back to academia with a role of assistant professorship at Middle East Technical University. She has been assigned as Associate Professor at the same department since 2018.