Date of Award

Summer 6-21-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Markus W. Germann


The fidelity of an organism’s genome is central to biology. DNA, however, is constantly being damaged and modified by a variety of sources. As a result of these changes, repair enzymes, polymerases, and other interrogating biomolecules must be able to recognize, repair, and adapt to a multitude of different structures and dynamics presented. Manipulation of natural systems via the development and introduction of novel bases and DNA structures only adds to this complexity. In addition, specific RNA sequences are becoming more prevalent therapeutic and diagnostic targets. These include retroviruses and other viruses that maintain their genome with RNA. Unlike DNA, RNA poses a unique challenge as targets due to their highly diverse secondary and tertiary structures. In this manuscript, three different nucleic acid systems were chosen to investigate how intramolecular and intermolecular interactions impact their own structure as well as giving further insight into how nucleic acids are recognized and distorted by interrogating damage specific enzymes as well as structure specific proteins.