Faculty Advisor

Stephen Winkle

Author Biographical Statement

Camila Garcia is an alumnus at Florida International University who majored in Biochemistry. Camila conducted her first independent research project under the mentorship of Dr. Stephen Winkle, where she explored the intricacies of melatonin-DNA interactions and binding selectivity. Under the ARCH program offered to members of the Honors College, Camila was able to depict her findings through her thesis Sequence Selectivity in the Binding of Melatonin to PhiX174RF DNA. She presented her research at the following poster conferences: FURC 2022, NCUR 2022, URFIU 2022, and LSSF 2022. In April 2022, Camila was accepted into the University of Pittsburgh’s Bioengineering doctoral program, where she majors in Neural Engineering and is a member of the B.I.O.N.I.C. Lab.


Melatonin is an endogenous neurotransmitter that controls the circadian rhythm. When consumed through medication, it has been proven to serve as a treatment for sleep disorders and alleviate sleep quality. Stable levels of melatonin in the human organism are shown to be beneficial as it provides a protective layer to DNA strands ensuring their longevity; however, its excessive consumption may have damaging consequences on the long run. Here we present a study on the sequence selectivity in the binding of melatonin to DNA, intending to show that melatonin targets specific DNA sites. Binding tophiX174RF DNA was assayed using restriction enzyme activity assays employing nine restriction enzymes with differing target sequences and melatonin/DNA base pair ratios ranging 05 – 20. Products of restriction enzyme digests were separated using agarose gel electrophoresis and the relative amounts of digestion product analyzed optically. The results indicated that melatonin selectively bind to DNA, and that upon binding, melatonin nicks DNA strands leading to a potential indication of strand damage in the long run.



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