Enzyme Catalyzed Toehold Mediated Strand Displacement (TMSD)



Invention Summary:  

Toehold mediated strand displacement (TMSD) is widely used in nanotechnology applications such as DNA nano-circuits and devices. The toeholds which are small single‐stranded DNA overhangs, are often utilized in kinetically controlled complex biochemical circuits. Existing toehold mediated strand displacement (TMSD) reactions rely on spontaneous annealing and strand exchange reaction These reactions are typically slow and thereby limiting many applications. There is a need for a catalyst to speed up these reactions but till date there are no catalyst currently used in such TMSD reactions. 

Rutgers researchers have discovered that human mitochondrial DNA helicase ‘Twinkle’ can catalyze TMSD reactions on various DNA substrates. Twinkle catalyzed strand displacement discriminates single base changes, and thus, can be utilized for developing diagnostic probes for the detection of single nucleotide polymorphisms. The researchers employed fluorescence based stopped-flow kinetics and electrophoretic methods to investigate these possibilities. Presence of Twinkle increased the amplitude and rate of the fluorescence signal, showing that Twinkle can accelerate the spontaneous TMSD reaction anywhere between 10-100 folds.   


  • Twinkle catalyzes and accelerates the spontaneous TMSD reaction 10-100 folds.
  • This mechanism may improve circuit design and diagnostics technology efficiency.

Market Applications:  

  • Construction of autonomous molecular motors.
  • Catalytic amplifiers, reprogrammable DNA nanostructures, molecular logic gates.
  • DNA based computing (next generation digital information storage and processing).
  • Biochips, diagnostics, DNA tweezers.

Intellectual Property & Development Status: Patent pending. Available for licensing and/or research collaboration.


Doyel Sen, Gayatri Patel, Smita S. Patel, Homologous DNA strand exchange activity of the human mitochondrial DNA helicase TWINKLE, Nucleic Acids Research, Volume 44, Issue 9, 19 May 2016, Pages 4200–4210, https://doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkw098




Patent Information:
Ryan Escolin
Licensing Manager, Life Sciences
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey