Stephen Levene

Stephen Levene

Distinguished Chair

[email protected]
Phone: 972-883-2503
Office: BSB 12.909

800 West Campbell Rd.
Mailstop: BSB11
Richardson, TX 75080-3021

Personal Web Page


PhD, Chemistry, Yale University, 1985
AB, Chemistry, Columbia University (College), 1979


Dr. Levene’s research interests involve protein-DNA interactions in site-specific recombination and the structure and dynamics of nucleic acids in solution.

Research Interests

Chemical and enzymatic probing methods are powerful techniques for examining details of sequence-dependent structure in DNA and RNA. Reagents that cleave nucleic acid molecules in a structure-specific, but relatively sequence-non-specific manner, such as hydroxyl radical or DNase I, have been used widely to probe helical geometry in nucleic acid structures, nucleic acid-drug complexes, and in nucleoprotein assemblies. Application of cleavage-based techniques to structures present in superhelical DNA has been hindered by the fact that the cleavage pattern attributable to supercoiling-dependent structures is heavily mixed with non-specific cleavage signals that are inevitable products of multiple cleavage events. We present a rigorous mathematical procedure for extracting the cleavage pattern specific to supercoiled DNA and use this method to investigate the hydroxyl radical cleavage pattern in a cruciform DNA structure formed by a 60 bp inverted repeat sequence embedded in a negatively supercoiled plasmid. Our results support the presence of a stem-loop structure in the expected location and suggest that the helical geometry of the cruciform stem differs from that of the normal duplex form.