Jacqueline K. Barton
Arthur and Marian Hanisch Memorial Professor and Professor of Chemistry; Chair, Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Barton's research on the electrical properties of DNA has revealed previously unknown DNA damage and repair processes and related cell-wide signaling.
Areas of Expertise:
Jackie Barton pioneered the field of charge transport in DNA--examining the way in which electrical charges are moved along a DNA strand and what roles this plays in the damage and repair of DNA and in cell-wide signaling. Her group showed that oxidative damage to DNA--a factor in many diseases and in aging--can arise from a distance through charge transport along DNA. The group also established that DNA charge-transport chemistry is sensitive to perturbations such as lesions or mismatched base pairs in DNA. These discoveries advanced development of DNA-based electrochemical sensors that scan for and pinpoint damage or mismatches. Barton's group recently discovered evidence that DNA charge transport may also help DNA by giving it a way to send a long-range signal when it undergoes oxidative damage. This signal across the cell may alert DNA-bound proteins such as p53--known as "the guardian of the genome" because of its role in cancer prevention via DNA repair--to set into motion processes that will locate and mend damaged strands.
In closely related research, the Barton group investigates how nucleic acids recognize and react with metallointercalators--custom-built, metal-containing compounds that can insert themselves between DNA base pairs. Barton's group works to improve metallointercalators used in chemotherapy, and to learn about DNA structure and recognition by designing transition metal complexes that can probe electrical transport and target specific sites on DNA and RNA.