About Student Research

Paula Hoyne (1997–2001)

Potential for unusual DNA structures in model systems and living bacteria

A native of New Jersey, Paula came to Mayo Graduate School and did Ph.D. thesis research in the area of unusual DNA structures. Paula used biophysical, biochemical, molecular biological, and bioinformatic methods to investigate the structures and stabilities of nucleic acid intramolecular triple helices. This class of structures has mysterious roles in biological systems. Paula's research focused on structures involving the "intra-strand purine motif," a group of triple-helix structures thought more likely to be stable under physiological conditions. In addition to measuring the formation and stabilities of these unusual DNA triple helices in the test tube, a collaboration allowed Paula to search bacterial genome sequences in search of sequences with the symmetry features necessary for potential triplex formation. A mysterious class of potential intrastrand triplex ("PIT") elements were identified in several bacteria, and molecular biological properties of representative PIT elements were investigated in vitro and within bacteria.