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Tuning DNA Stability to Achieve Isothermal DNA Amplification Open Access


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Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Kausar, Abu
Supervisor and department
Gibbs-Davis, Julianne (Chemistry)
Examining committee member and department
Campbell, Robert (Chemistry)
Klassen, John (Chemistry)
Serpe, Michael (Chemistry)
Klobukowski, Mariusz (Chemistry)
Heemstra, Jennifer (Chemistry)
Department of Chemistry

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Developing a simple, general, and isothermal self-replicating system is one of the key requirements for a simplified detection platform for nucleic acid sequences specific to a disease causing microrganism. One of the challenges in achieving nucleic-acid templated isothermal amplification is that the product duplex formed after the templated reaction is much more stable than the pre-reaction complex. Consequently, the template remains bound to the complementary nucleic acid formed, preventing the template from initiating another cycle of amplification. To avoid this product inhibition, we introduce different destabilizing linkers in the template, which result in the isothermal amplification of complementary DNA. One of the most active destabilizing groups is an abasic lesion, which we demonstrate can also operate in across-catalytic process that we refer to as lesion-induced DNA amplification or LIDA. Using LIDA, we are able to observe rapid, isothermal self-replication of DNA, of a variety of sequences, by combining two cycles of amplification and using a high concentration of T4 DNA ligase enzyme. Moreover, we find the LIDA process operates in the presence of genomic DNA and can detect a specific sequence in plasmid DNA, suggesting this method may find application in nucleic-acid based diagnostics. Additionally, as DNA ligases have a better discriminating ability than DNA polymerases for mismatches in target DNA, using ligase-based LIDA we are able to achieve very good discrimination between amplification initiated with a matched target versus a mismatched target (discrimination ratio = 47). Combining a simple amplification method for disease-specific nucleic acid sequences with a simple detection platform is an important step towards the development of a diagnostic tool usable in resource-limited environments. Traditionally, we employ polyacrylamide gel electrophoreses (PAGE) to detect the amplified nucleic acid, requiring that we label one of the DNA probe strands that is incorporated into the self-replication product. In another approach explored, one of the probes is modified with a fluorescent donor (FAM) and another probe modified with a fluorescent acceptor (Cy5). The replication process causes these probes to become covalently attached, which we observe by Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) providing a real-time method of detection of the amplification process. To further simplify detection, we also combine LIDA with a rapid colorimetric approach developed in our group based on gold nanoparticles, where the target-induced amplification product leads to the disassembly of nanoparticle aggregates resulting in a color change from purple to red. Additionally, we have screened different DNA ligases and demonstrate that we are able to detect down to 14 pM target DNA using E. coli DNA ligase (compared with 1.4 nM using T4 DNA ligase), which suggests that identifying or developing an enzyme with no blunt-end ligation would be ideal for further lowering the limit of detection with LIDA. Finally, varying the base across from the abasic site reveals that there is no special base requirement for the isothermal system to work, providing further evidence that LIDA represents a general approach for isothermal target sequence amplification.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
Citation for previous publication
1) Kausar, A.*, McKay, R. D.*, Lam, J.*, Bhogal, R. S., Tang, A. Y. and Gibbs-Davis, J. M. (2011), Tuning DNA Stability To Achieve Turnover in Template for an Enzymatic Ligation Reaction. Angew Chem Int Ed, 50: 8922–8926. 2) Kausar, A., Mitran, C. J., Li, Y. and Gibbs-Davis, J. M. (2013), Rapid, Isothermal DNA Self-Replication Induced by a Destabilizing Lesion. Angew Chem Int Ed, 52: 10577–10581.

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