CUP Undergraduate Research

Date of Award


Document Type



College of Arts & Sciences


Math & Science


  • Glycol nucleic acid (GNA) is a non-natural analog of DNA
  • In place of the deoxyribose unit of DNA, GNA has an acyclic ethylene glycol unit (Fig. 1)
  • The differences between DNA and GNA are evident in the duplex structure (Fig. 3)
  • Instead of a major and minor groove, GNA has one large groove (Fig. 3)
  • The base pairs of GNA wrap around the single groove like a ribbon on a spool (Fig. 3)
  • GNA has primarily intra-strand base stacking, with each base stacking on top of a base of the opposite strand, as opposed to the inter-strand base stacking of DNA (Fig. 2)
  • GNA has a higher stability than DNA, as shown by its melting point being, on average, 20 degrees Celsius higher than DNA
  • The stability of GNA appears to be due to entropic factors, not enthalpic factors
  • Due to its stability and unique shape, GNA is of interest for its use in place of DNA as a molecular scaffold
  • Molecular dynamics (MD) uses classical laws of motion to follow the movement of atoms or molecules in computer simulations
  • MD can be used to explore the properties of nucleic acids
  • Studies comparing MD simulations to atomic force microscopy have found that the results of simulated pulling of nucleic acids are accurate and realistic

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Chemistry Commons