Professor Serianni received his B.S. from Albright College in 1975 and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Michigan State University in 1980. After completion of his doctoral work, he moved to the Section of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology at Cornell University as a postdoctoral research associate. In 1982, Professor Serianni joined the faculty at Notre Dame. He was the recipient of the ACS Horace S. Isbell Award in Carbohydrate Chemistry in 1988, and is the president and CEO of Omicron Biochemicals, Inc.
Professor Serianni's research focuses on the use of stable isotopically-labeled compounds to examine structure, conformation and reactivity of carbohydrates and nucleic acids in solution using modern multidimensional NMR methods and computational techniques. His group is interested in developing and improving chemical and chemi-enzymic methods to prepare carbohydrate-containing biomolecules containing one or more sites of isotopic enrichment, with 13C, 2H and 15N of primary concern. NMR studies of these labeled biomolecules permit a more detailed assessment of their 3-D structures in solution, information which is critical to understanding the fundamental factors controlling molecular recognition in biological processes.
Of current interest is the use of stable isotopes in the assessment of DNA and RNA structure in solution. Research is under way to: a) develop efficient chemical, chemi-enzymic, and/or biological methods to introduce isotopes selectively or uniformly into nucleosides and oligonucleotides, b) apply 2-D and 3-D NMR methods to decipher the NMR spectra of labeled oligonucleotides, and c) assess the merits of 13C-1H and 13C-13C spin-coupling constants within the furanose rings of RNA and DNA as structural probes. NMR data are complemented and extended by ab initio molecular orbital calculations which can assess the energetics and structural features of furanose ring pseudorotation and predict 13C-1H and 13C-13C spin-couplings for various pathways in these rings, and by X-ray crystallography. The long range objective is to apply this information to NMR solution studies of CCAAT-containing oligonucleotides involved in the NF-1 recognition site at the origin of replication of human adenovirus, and other biologically-important DNA and RNA oligomers.
Other work involves studies of carbohydrate metabolism via in vivo 13C and 19F NMR spectroscopy, and the development of automated devices for chemical and biological synthesis of labeled biomolecules.