Mussel adhesive for DNA chips

December 24, 2010

Mussels are true masters of adhesion. Whether on the wood of a pier, the metal of a ship’s hull, rocks, or to their own kind, they stick to everything. Researchers led by Philip B. Messersmith at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL/USA) have successfully synthesized a mimic of one of the "universal adhesives" used by mussels. As the scientists report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, they were able to use their synthetic "mussel glue" to fix DNA molecules on various substrates. This new, simple method seems particularly promising for the production of DNA chips for diagnostics and research.

Modern analytical strategies for the detection and analysis of biomolecules are often based on robust and inexpensive methods for immobilizing DNA, proteins, and other biomolecules on surfaces. DNA microarray techniques involve the arrangement of different DNA probes on a single chip. Various target DNA molecules are selectively fished out of the many found in a DNA sample. The target DNA is identified by means of the binding location on the chip, because the location of every probe on the chip is documented.

“Previous anchoring strategies have generally been developed specifically for a single substrate,” says Messersmith, “they are thus ineffective on other .” Messersmith and his colleagues have now developed a universal method—inspired by —that can adhere to just about any material desired. Biopolymers responsible for the unusual adhesive properties of mussels have now been identified. These polymers are rich in catechol and amino groups. “We have synthesized a catecholamine that mimics the chemistry of the musselproteins,” reports Messersmith.

The new approach is rather simple: Just place the desired substrate in a solution of the catecholamine polymer overnight. The polymer adheres as a thin layer on any of the usual substrates used for DNA arrays, such as glass, as well as less common substrates such as gold, platinum, oxides, semiconductors, or various polymer substrates. The coating then easily binds DNA molecules without influencing their biological activity. This makes it possible to make micropatterns with DNA (DNA spotting), as is required for DNA chips.

The secret of the success of the catecholamine polymer: it contains special groups of atoms that can bind to a diversity of substrate materials through a variety of mechanisms. On the other hand, target DNA molecules from a sample bind exclusively to the corresponding specific DNA probes, without requiring a treatment to block unspecific binding to the substrate. Says Messersmith: “The new coating strategy may significantly simplify DNA microarray technology.”

Explore further: 'Electronic' DNA sequencing: Changes in molecular charge act as signal

More information: Phillip B. Messersmith, Facile DNA Immobilization on Surfaces through Catecholamine Polymer, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201005001

Related Stories

Polymer Nanotubes as Molecular Probes and DNA Carriers

May 1, 2006

By growing polymers on a porous aluminum oxide template, researchers at the Seoul National University in Korea have fabricated polymer nanotubes to which they can attach two different types of molecules. These new nanoscale ...

DNA weaving: Two-dimensional crystals from DNA origami tiles

November 16, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- DNA is more than just a carrier for our genetic information; DNA is also an outstanding nanoscale building material, as researchers led by Ned Seeman discovered thirty years ago. Seeman and his colleagues ...

Recommended for you

Brazilian wasp venom kills cancer cells by opening them up

September 1, 2015

The social wasp Polybia paulista protects itself against predators by producing venom known to contain a powerful cancer-fighting ingredient. A Biophysical Journal study published September 1 reveals exactly how the venom's ...

Naturally-occurring protein enables slower-melting ice cream

August 31, 2015

(Phys.org)—Scientists have developed a slower-melting ice cream—consider the advantages the next time a hot summer day turns your child's cone with its dream-like mound of orange, vanilla and lemon swirls with chocolate ...

Antibody-making bacteria promise drug development

August 31, 2015

Monoclonal antibodies, proteins that bind to and destroy foreign invaders in our bodies, routinely are used as therapeutic agents to fight a wide range of maladies including breast cancer, leukemia, asthma, arthritis, psoriasis, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.