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Postgraduate Admissions

Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramanian FRS

The Dynamic Chemistry, Structure & Function of DNA

There are new insights emerging about how DNA actually works that go beyond the classical view of the DNA double helix, Watson-Crick base pairing and the genetic code. My lab is studying two new dimensions to DNA. The first is the existence of structures that are NOT the Watson-Crick double helix with a focus on four-stranded DNA structures called G-quadruplexes that can form in G-rich sequences in the test tube and within cells.

The second is the study of natural, chemically modified DNA bases that give rise to a DNA alphabet that extends beyond G, C, T and A. The expanded chemistry of DNA is dynamic and can be altered in ways that shape the identity of cells and tissues -sometimes called epigenetic control. We are investigating the chemistry, function and associated molecular mechanisms of these epigenetic bases.  

I run two labs, one in Department of Chemistry and one in the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. Both labs function as an integrated unit with constant exchange of ideas, experiments and people between the two sites. 


DNA G-quadruplexes in the Human Genome: Detection, Functions and Therapeutic Potential Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 2017, 18, 279.

Chemical Methods for Decoding Cytosine Modifications in DNA Chem. Rev2015, 115, 2240.
T  01223 336347