Terahertz molecular resonance of cancer DNA

Hwayeong Cheon, Hee Jin Yang, Sang Hun Lee, Young A. Kim, Joo Hiuk Son

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


Carcinogenesis involves the chemical and structural alteration of biomolecules in cells. Aberrant methylation of DNA is a well-known carcinogenic mechanism and a common chemical modification of DNA. Terahertz waves can directly observe changes in DNA because the characteristic energies lie in the same frequency region. In addition, terahertz energy levels are not high enough to damage DNA by ionization. Here, we present terahertz molecular resonance fingerprints of DNA methylation in cancer DNA. Methylated cytidine, a nucleoside, has terahertz characteristic energies that give rise to the molecular resonance of methylation in DNA. Molecular resonance is monitored in aqueous solutions of genomic DNA from cancer cell lines using a terahertz time-domain spectroscopic technique. Resonance signals can be quantified to identify the types of cancer cells with a certain degree of DNA methylation. These measurements reveal the existence of molecular resonance fingerprints of cancer DNAs in the terahertz region, which can be utilized for the early diagnosis of cancer cells at the molecular level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number37103
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2016


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