Carnegie Mellon University

Subha Das

Subha R. Das

Associate Professor, Chemistry

  • Mellon Institute 740A
  • 412-268-6871


2000     Ph.D., Auburn University


Organic synthesis, nucleic acids chemistry, RNA biochemistry, RNA-protein recognition, nanotechnology


Nucleic Acids Chemistry – Labelling and Ligations

We have recently introduced "click-chemistry" for labeling or ligating RNA. Any RNA – not just synthetic RNA – can be labeled with another molecule or ligated to another RNA for the detection, handling or delivery or RNA. This powerful chemical tools enables a number of projects. One current project in this area seeks to label cellular RNA with different markers through which altered states or transport of the RNAs due to different environmental or epigenetic factors can be investigated.

Backbone Branched RNAs

The process of splicing generates the correct messenger RNA for the cellular synthesis of proteins by removing non-coding intron sequences as 'lariats'. These lariat RNAs have a branched structure and have been long desired in order to investigate splicing and related processes. We have accomplished the synthesis of backbone branched RNAs and these provide a unique opportunity to investigate splicing and related processes such as debranching through biochemical assays and biophysical methods such as single-molecule spectroscopy.

Nucleic Acids Nano-bio-technology

Backbone branched DNA provides a simple and powerful avenue to engineer precisely the angles between DNA helices in self-assembled DNA nanostructures. We are exploring the design and construction of nanoscale DNA objects that have been inaccessible by traditional DNA nanotechnologies. Our ability to synthesize and functionalize DNA provides additional opportunities to enhance the function of these objects by incorporating metal or polymer nanoparticles or biomolecules. Polymer DNA hybrids synergistically capitalize on the power of polymeric materials with the tunable hybridization and reversible assembly properties of DNA.

Science Education and Communication

The Kitchen Chemistry Sessions course uses food and molecular cuisine to teach the concepts of chemistry and science. The use of food ingredients and their preparation in laboratory settings are based on the molecular properties. Modules based on water, fats/oils and lipids, carbohydrates, proteins and aroma volatiles and flavor compounds provide a context to highlight how chemical and scientific principles permeate students’ everyday life chemical concepts to a wide audience – from K-12 to non-science majors. Science majors are engaged with the cooking focus that serves to reinforce, re-organize, and extend students’ knowledge of chemistry and biochemistry. The food context also provides a significant opportunity to communicate and promote science concepts to the public. See Chemistry in the Kitchen (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov 4, 2010) and Carnegie Mellon's Kitchen Chemistry Course Makes Science Palatable (University Press Release, March 25, 2010) for more information.


Automated Synthesis of Well-Defined Polymers and Biohybrids by Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization Using a DNA Synthesizer
Pan, X., Lathwal, S., Mack, S., Yan, J.. Das, S.R., Matyjaszewski, K., Angew. Chemie Int. Ed. 2017, 56, 2740–2743

Crystal structure of the Entamoeba histolytica RNA lariat debranching enzyme EhDbr1 reveals a catalytic Zn2+/Mn2+heterobinucleation
Ransey, E., Paredes, E., Dey, S. K., Das, S. R., Heroux, A. and Macbeth, M. R., FEBS Lett, 2017,591, 2003–2010. doi:10.1002/1873-3468.12677

Pseudo-ligandless Click Chemistry for Oligonucleotide Conjugation
Mack, S.; Fouz, M.; Dey, S.K.; Das, S.R. Curr. Protoc. Chem. Biol. 2016, 8, 83–95

Bright Fluorescent Nanotags from Bottlebrush Polymers with DNA-Tipped Bristles
Fouz, M.F.; Mukumoto, K.; Averick, S.; Molinar, O.; McCartney, B.M.; Matyjaszewski, K.; Armitage, B.A.; Das, S.R., ACS Cent. Sci., 2015, 1, 431–438.

Transition State Features in the Hepatitis Delta Virus Ribozyme Reaction Revealed by Atomic Perturbations
Koo, S.C.; Lu, J.; Li, N.-S.; Leung, E.; Das, S.R.; Harris, M.E.; Piccirilli, J.A., J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2015, 137, 8973–8982.

Well-defined biohybrids using reversible-deactivation radical polymerization procedures
Averick, S., Mehl, R. A., Das, S. R. & Matyjaszewski, K., J. Control. Release 2015, 205, 45–57.

Solid Phase Incorporation of an ATRP Initiator for Polymer-DNA Biohybrids
Averick, S. E.; Dey, S. K.; Grahacharya, D.; Matyjaszewski, K.; Das, S. R., Angewandte Chemie Intl Ed.  2014, 53, 2739 – 2744 doi: 10.1002/anie.201308686

Auto-transfecting siRNA through Facile Covalent Polymer Escorts
Averick, S. E.; Paredes, E.; Dey, S. K.; Snyder, K. M.; Tapinos, N.; Matyjaszewski, K.; Das, S. R., J Am Chem Soc 2013, 135, 12508–12511 doi: 10.1021/ja404520j

The Kitchen Chemistry Sessions : Palatable Chemistry through Molecular Gastronomy and Cuisine. In Using Food to Stimulate Interest in the Chemistry Classroom
Das, S. R.; Symox, K., Ed.; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2013. doi: 10.1021/bk-2013-1130.ch007

RNA Conjugations and Ligations for RNA Nanotechnology
Paredes, E.; Das, S. R.; In RNA Nanotechnology and Therapeutics; Guo, P.; Haque, F., Eds.; CRC Press, 2013; pp. 197–211.

Star Polymers with a Cationic Core Prepared by ATRP for Cellular Nucleic Acids Delivery
Cho, H. Y.; Averick, S. E.; Paredes, E.; Wegner, K.; Averick, A.; Jurga, S.; Das, S. R.; Matyjaszewski, K.; Biomacromolecules 2013, 14, 1262–1267. doi: 10.1021/bm4003199

Backbone-Branched DNA Building Blocks for Facile Angular Control in Nanostructures
Paredes, E.; Zhang, X.; Ghodke, H.; Yadavalli, V. K.; Das, S. R.; ACS Nano 2013, 7, 3953–3961. doi: 10.1021/nn305787m


2012–present Associate Professor of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University
2006–2012 Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University
2000–2006 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The University of Chicago