Sophie Fountain

Understanding the mechanobiology of DNA-protein interactions at the single-molecule level

About me

I obtained my MChem from the University of Sheffield completing my masters project under the supervision of Dr Tim Craggs. This project involved looking at the impact that different types of damage have on the conformation of DNA using Single-Molecule Fluorescence Resonance Excitation Transfer (smFRET). A change in FRET efficiency was seen for all the types of damage; the nick and gap damage have more of an impact on the mean and spread of the FRET efficiency. These results provide initial support for the hypothesis that damage alters the overall structure, and possibly dynamics of DNA duplexes. My PhD project excites me as it allows me to further develop the research, I undertook during my MChem project. 

My project

I am currently studying under Dr Tim Craggs in the Departments of Chemistry at the University of Sheffield and in partnership with Cairn Research. The project involves looking at several prevalent modifications to DNA including O6-methylguanine (O6-MeG), ribonucleotide, 8-oxoguanine (8-oxoG), an abasic site, a nick, and a gap. Confocal smFRET is going to be utilised to measure conformational changes in DNA duplexes with the different types of damage. I will also design and build a combined magnetic tweezers TIRF-FRET instrument based on the openFRAME microscopy platform in partnership with Cairn Research. This new instrument will be used to investigate the effect of forces on DNA-protein interactions and DNA damage recognition.