Michael Bruist PhD

Michael Bruist PhD

Professor of Biochemistry


BS (Stanford University)

PhD (Cornell University)

Research Interests

Using molecular mechanics computer simulation, fluorescence spectroscopy, and chemical probing to study IHF-DNA interaction complex ESI mass spectrometry of DNA


The research in my laboratory investigates various aspects of the chemistry of DNA and its interaction with proteins.

The IHF-DNA Complex: Integration host factor (IHF) is a bacterial protein that bends DNA so that sites that are separated along the sequence are brought close together in space. This is critical to building intricate DNA-protein complexes with diverse functions, from regulating RNA synthesis to packing DNA into the heads of viruses. We are using molecular mechanics computer simulation, fluorescence spectroscopy, and chemical probing to study the interaction of IHF and DNA. Specific questions being asked concern the flexibility of the DNA in the complex, whether regional contacts break regularly, and the role of acidic residues in the binding of DNA.

ESI Mass spectrometry of DNA: In collaboration with Dr. Catherine Bentzley’s research group, we are investigating the influence of the secondary structure of DNA on its mass spectrometry. Electrospray ionization (ESI) creates a family of multiply charged whole-molecule ions. We have demonstrated that the average charge is higher when DNA can form a helix. My group is using molecular dynamics to contrast the structure of DNA ions in water and in vacuum. Understanding the ion properties may lead to simple mass spectrometry experiments to determine structural features of DNA.

Selected Scholarly Activity

“Secondary Structural Characterization of Oligonucleotide Strands Using Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry,” X. Guo, M. F. Bruist, D. L.Davis, and C. M. Bentzley, Nucl. Acids Res., 2005, 33, 3659.
“Protein-Driven DNA Device that Measures the Excess Binding Energy of Proteins that Distort DNA.” W. Shen, M. F. Bruist, S. D. Goodman, and N.C. Seeman, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2004, 43, 4750.
“Discrete and Continuous Mathematical Models of DNA Branch Migration,” M. F. Bruist and E. Myers, J. Theor. Biol., 2003, 220, 139.
“Triple-Helical DNA as a Reversible Block of the Branch Point in a Partially Symmetric DNA Four-Arm Junctions,” A. W. Kirby, M. N. Gaskin, M. A.Antezana, S. J. Goodman, E. Myers, and M. F. Bruist, J. Mol. Bio., 1997,271, 349.
“Characterization of the Interaction between the Lambda Intasome and att B,” R. L. Patsey and M. F. Bruist, J. Mol. Biol., 1995, 252, 47.

Contact Information

Office location: Griffith Hall Room 147B
Mailing address: Box 48
University of Sciences
600 South 43rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4495
Office Phone: 215-596-8530

m [dot] bruist [at] usciences [dot] edu