Stanford Advisors

  • Eric Kool, Doctoral Dissertation Advisor (AC)

All Publications

  • Polymerase synthesis of four-base DNA from two stable dimeric nucleotides. Nucleic acids research Mohsen, M. G., Ji, D., Kool, E. T. 2019


    We document the preparation and properties of dimerized pentaphosphate-bridged deoxynucleotides (dicaptides) that contain reactive components of two different nucleotides simultaneously. Importantly, dicaptides are found to be considerably more stable to hydrolysis than standard dNTPs. Steady-state kinetics studies show that the dimers exhibit reasonably good efficiency with the Klenow fragment of DNA polymerase I, and we identify thermostable enzymes that process them efficiently at high temperature. Experiments show that the dAp5dT dimer successfully acts as a combination of dATP and dTTP in primer extension reactions, and the dGp5dC dimer as a combination of dGTP and dCTP. The two dimers in combination promote successful 4-base primer extension. The final byproduct of the reaction, triphosphate, is shown to be less inhibitory to primer extension than pyrophosphate, the canonical byproduct. Finally, we document PCR amplification of DNA with two dimeric nucleotides, and show that the dimers can promote amplification under extended conditions when PCR with normal dNTPs fails. These dimeric nucleotides represent a novel and simple approach for increasing stability of nucleotides and avoiding inhibition from pyrophosphate.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/nar/gkz741

    View details for PubMedID 31504784

  • Polymerase-amplified release of ATP (POLARA) for detecting single nucleotide variants in RNA and DNA CHEMICAL SCIENCE Mohsen, M. G., Ji, D., Kool, E. T. 2019; 10 (11): 3264–70

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c8sc03901a

    View details for Web of Science ID 000461228400011

  • Polymerase-amplified release of ATP (POLARA) for detecting single nucleotide variants in RNA and DNA. Chemical science Mohsen, M. G., Ji, D., Kool, E. T. 2019; 10 (11): 3264–70


    The identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) is increasingly important for diagnosis and treatment of disease. Here we studied the potential use of ATP-releasing nucleotides (ARNs) for identifying SNPs in DNA and RNA targets. Synthesized as derivatives of the four canonical deoxynucleotides, ARNs can be used in the place of deoxynucleoside triphosphates to elongate a primer hybridized to a nucleic acid template, with the leaving group being ATP rather than pyrophosphate. The released ATP is then harnessed in conjunction with luciferase to generate chemiluminescence. Extension on a long target DNA or RNA generates many equivalents of ATP per target strand, providing isothermal amplification of signal. In principle, allele-specific primers could be used in conjunction with ARNs to generate differential luminescence signals with respect to distinct genetic polymorphisms. To test this, varied primer designs, modifications, enzymes and conditions were tested, resulting in an optimized strategy that discriminates between differing nucleic acid templates with single nucleotide resolution. This strategy was then applied to diagnostically relevant alleles resulting in discrimination between known polymorphisms. SNP detection was successfully performed on transcribed mRNA fragments from four different alleles derived from JAK2, BCR-ABL1, BRAF, and HBB. To investigate background interference, wild-type and mutant transcripts of these four alleles were tested and found to be easily distinguishable amid total cellular RNA isolated from human blood. Thus, ARNs have been employed with specialized allele-specific primers to detect diagnostically important SNPs in a novel method that is sensitive, rapid, and isothermal.

    View details for PubMedID 30996911

  • Increased MTH1-specific 8-oxodGTPase activity is a hallmark of cancer in colon, lung and pancreatic tissue. DNA repair McPherson, L. A., Troccoli, C. I., Ji, D., Bowles, A. E., Gardiner, M. L., Mohsen, M. G., Nagathihalli, N. S., Nguyen, D. M., Robbins, D. J., Merchant, N. B., Kool, E. T., Rai, P., Ford, J. M. 2019: 102644


    Cellular homeostasis is dependent on a balance between DNA damage and DNA repair mechanisms. Cells are constantly assaulted by both exogenous and endogenous stimuli leading to high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that cause oxidation of the nucleotide dGTP to 8-oxodGTP. If this base is incorporated into DNA and goes unrepaired, it can result in G > T transversions, leading to genomic DNA damage. MutT Homolog 1 (MTH1) is a nucleoside diphosphate X (Nudix) pyrophosphatase that can remove 8-oxodGTP from the nucleotide pool before it is incorporated into DNA by hydrolyzing it into 8-oxodGMP. MTH1 expression has been shown to be elevated in many cancer cells and is thought to be a survival mechanism by which a cancer cell can stave off the effects of high ROS that can result in cell senescence or death. It has recently become a target of interest in cancer because it is thought that inhibiting MTH1 can increase genotoxic damage and cytotoxicity. Determining the role of MTH1 in normal and cancer cells is confounded by an inability to reliably and directly measure its native enzymatic activity. We have used the chimeric ATP-releasing guanine-oxidized (ARGO) probe that combines 8-oxodGTP and ATP to measure MTH1 enzymatic activity in colorectal cancer (CRC), non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) along with patient-matched normal tissue. MTH1 8-oxodGTPase activity is significantly increased in tumors across all three tissue types, indicating that MTH1 is a marker of cancer. MTH1 activity measured by ARGO assay was compared to mRNA and protein expression measured by RT-qPCR and Western blot in the CRC tissue pairs, revealing a positive correlation between ARGO assay and Western blot, but little correlation with RT-qPCR in these samples. The adoption of the ARGO assay will help in establishing the level of MTH1 activity in model systems and in assessing the effects of MTH1 modulation in the treatment of cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.dnarep.2019.102644

    View details for PubMedID 31311767

  • The Discovery of Rolling Circle Amplification and Rolling Circle Transcription. Accounts of chemical research Mohsen, M. G., Kool, E. T. 2016: -?


    Nucleic acid amplification is a hugely important technology for biology and medicine. While the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been highly useful and effective, its reliance on heating and cooling cycles places some constraints on its utility. For example, the heating step of PCR can destroy biological molecules under investigation and heat/cool cycles are not applicable in living systems. Thus, isothermal approaches to DNA and RNA amplification are under widespread study. Perhaps the simplest of these are the rolling circle approaches, including rolling circle amplification (RCA) and rolling circle transcription (RCT). In this strategy, a very small circular oligonucleotide (e.g., 25-100 nucleotides in length) acts as a template for a DNA or an RNA polymerase, producing long repeating product strands that serve as amplified copies of the circle sequence. Here we describe the early developments and studies involving circular oligonucleotides that ultimately led to the burgeoning rolling circle technologies currently under development. This Account starts with our studies on the design of circular oligonucleotides as novel DNA- and RNA-binding motifs. We describe how we developed chemical and biochemical strategies for synthesis of well-defined circular oligonucleotides having defined sequence and open (unpaired) structure, and we outline the unusual ways in which circular DNAs can interact with other nucleic acids. We proceed next to the discovery of DNA and RNA polymerase activity on these very small cyclic DNAs. DNA polymerase "rolling circle" activities were discovered concurrently in our laboratory and that of Andrew Fire. We describe the surprising efficiency of this process even on shockingly small circular DNAs, producing repeating DNAs thousands of nucleotides in length. RNA polymerase activity on circular oligonucleotides was first documented in our group in 1995; especially surprising in this case was the finding that the process occurs efficiently even without promoter sequences in the circle. We describe how one can encode cleavable sites into the product DNAs and RNAs from RCA/RCT, which can then be resolved into large quantities of almost pure oligonucleotides. Our Account then proceeds with a summary describing a broad variety of tools and methods built in many laboratories around the rolling circle concept. Among the important developments are the discovery of highly efficient DNA polymerases for RCA; the invention of exponential ("hyperbranched") RCA amplification made possible by use of a second primer; the development of the "padlock" process for detection of nucleic acids and proteins coupled with RCA; the use of circular oligonucleotides as vectors in cells to encode biologically active RNAs via RCT; and the use of small DNA circles to encode and extend human telomeres. Finally, we finish with some ideas about where the field may go in the future.

    View details for PubMedID 27797171

  • Kinetic selection vs. free energy of DNA base pairing in control of polymerase fidelity PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Oertell, K., Harcourt, E. M., Mohsen, M. G., Petruska, J., Kool, E. T., Goodman, M. F. 2016; 113 (16): E2277-E2285


    What is the free energy source enabling high-fidelity DNA polymerases (pols) to favor incorporation of correct over incorrect base pairs by 10(3)- to 10(4)-fold, corresponding to free energy differences of ΔΔGinc∼ 5.5-7 kcal/mol? Standard ΔΔG° values (∼0.3 kcal/mol) calculated from melting temperature measurements comparing matched vs. mismatched base pairs at duplex DNA termini are far too low to explain pol accuracy. Earlier analyses suggested that pol active-site steric constraints can amplify DNA free energy differences at the transition state (kinetic selection). A recent paper [Olson et al. (2013)J Am Chem Soc135:1205-1208] used Vent pol to catalyze incorporations in the presence of inorganic pyrophosphate intended to equilibrate forward (polymerization) and backward (pyrophosphorolysis) reactions. A steady-state leveling off of incorporation profiles at long reaction times was interpreted as reaching equilibrium between polymerization and pyrophosphorolysis, yielding apparent ΔG° = -RTlnKeq, indicating ΔΔG° of 3.5-7 kcal/mol, sufficient to account for pol accuracy without need of kinetic selection. Here we perform experiments to measure and account for pyrophosphorolysis explicitly. We show that forward and reverse reactions attain steady states far from equilibrium for wrong incorporations such as G opposite T. Therefore,[Formula: see text]values obtained from such steady-state evaluations ofKeqare not dependent on DNA properties alone, but depend largely on constraints imposed on right and wrong substrates in the polymerase active site.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1600279113

    View details for Web of Science ID 000374393800012

    View details for PubMedID 27044101

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4843490

  • ATP-Releasing Nucleotides: Linking DNA Synthesis to Luciferase Signaling. Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English) Ji, D., Mohsen, M. G., Harcourt, E. M., Kool, E. T. 2016; 55 (6): 2087-2091


    A new strategy is reported for the production of luminescence signals from DNA synthesis through the use of chimeric nucleoside tetraphosphate dimers in which ATP, rather than pyrophosphate, is the leaving group. ATP-releasing nucleotides (ARNs) were synthesized as derivatives of the four canonical nucleotides. All four derivatives are good substrates for DNA polymerase, with Km values averaging 13-fold higher than those of natural dNTPs, and kcat values within 1.5-fold of those of native nucleotides. Importantly, ARNs were found to yield very little background signal with luciferase. DNA synthesis experiments show that the ATP byproduct can be harnessed to elicit a chemiluminescence signal in the presence of luciferase. When using a polymerase together with the chimeric nucleotides, target DNAs/RNAs trigger the release of stoichiometrically large quantities of ATP, thereby allowing sensitive isothermal luminescence detection of nucleic acids as diverse as phage DNAs and short miRNAs.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/anie.201509131

    View details for PubMedID 26836342