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Professor David Deamer was founder of the UCSC Nanopore Project, which is now co-directed by Professor Mark Akeson and involves faculty collaborators from UCSC and other institutions. The project received a “$1000 Genome” grant from the NHGRI in 2005.
In 1996, Professor Deamer was a co-author on the paper that first demonstrated single-molecule analysis of nucleic acids using the alpha hemolysin nanopore. Professor Deamer and his collaborators now investigate physical properties of ‘single-stranded’ DNA and RNA molecules, with the aim of using alpha hemolysin to determine base sequences of nucleic acids. The team uses two approaches to analyze DNA in this way. In the first, a constant applied voltage pulls single-stranded DNA or RNA through the pore, permitting discrimination among single polymer molecules based on their nucleotide composition. The second approach is to capture a single duplex DNA molecule in the channel vestibule. Duplex DNA is too large to pass through the nanopore, but the molecular motions of the base pairs occupying the vestibule can be monitored in real time for tens-to-hundreds of milliseconds. In this voltage-pulse or 'tasting' mode, single base-pair resolution is achieved, suggesting that nanopore detection of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) is feasible.