Antonio Pantelias Garcés
My research project
Experimental detection of tunnelling via mutation
Inspired by the experiments that demonstrated the importance of proton tunnelling in enzyme catalysis , Antonio and Virginia are currently investigating whether a similar kinetic isotope effect can alter the spontaneous mutation rate. If quantum tunnelling is involved in the transition of a DNA base from the common to its rare tautomeric form, then replacing a hydrogen nucleus (a single proton) with a deuterium nucleus (consisting of a proton and a neutron) should slow the transition rate since quantum tunnelling will be highly sensitive to doubling the mass of the particle trying to tunnel. By using deuterated water (D2O) as solvent rather than H2O and employing advanced experimental techniques from molecular biology, they aim to explore a potential relation between proton tunnelling and mutations.