DNA engine observed in real-time traveling along base pair track

February 6, 2011

In a complex feat of nanoengineering, a team of scientists at Kyoto University and the University of Oxford have succeeded in creating a programable molecular transport system, the workings of which can be observed in real time. The results, appearing in the latest issue of Nature Nanotechnology, open the door to the development of advanced drug delivery methods and molecular manufacturing systems.

Resembling a monorail train, the system relies on the self-assembly properties of DNA origami and consists of a 100 nm track together with a motor and fuel. Using (AFM), the research team was able to observe in real time as this motor traveled the full length of the track at a constant average speed of around 0.1 nm/s.

"The track and motor interact to generate forward motion in the motor," explained Dr. Masayuki Endo of Kyoto University's Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS). "By varying the distance between the rail 'ties,' for example, we can adjust the speed of this motion."

The research team, including lead author Dr. Shelley Wickham at Oxford, anticipates that these results will have broad implications for future development of programable molecular assembly lines leading to the creation of synthetic ribosomes.

" origami techniques allow us to build nano- and meso-sized structures with great precision," elaborated iCeMS Prof. Hiroshi Sugiyama. "We already envision more complex track geometries of greater length and even including junctions. Autonomous, molecular manufacturing robots are a possible outcome."

Explore further: Molecular motor structural changes imaged

More information: The article, "Direct observation of stepwise movement of a synthetic molecular transporter" by Shelley F. J. Wickham, Masayuki Endo, Yousuke Katsuda, Kumi Hidaka, Jonathan Bath, Hiroshi Sugiyama, and Andrew J. Turberfield, was published online in the February 6, 2011 issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

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6 comments

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Arikin
not rated yet Feb 06, 2011
Please try not to vary from the original titles. I know what I am about to read if you used the original:
"Direct observation of stepwise movement of a synthetic molecular transporter"

But where oh where is the DNA. Really?! This is nano tech not biology. One is tricked into thinking this article is about DNA and RNA processing by cells... Which would be wonderful to see in real time.
kevinrtrs
1.5 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2011
Now here we have a highly intelligent team making use of knowledge already contained inside the cell to build a copy of what they've seen in operation there.

So how did the cell get to have that kind of construction inside itself such that it is only now that human beings are able to replicate some of it?

The construction of the motor on the track was by no means an accident, some random mashing together of chemical to form this structure. No, instead it took a team of highly intelligent people with loads of tools, time, energy and finance to come up with this - a COPY of what already exists. Evolution not required. We were created by a superior mind.
PaulieMac
4.4 / 5 (7) Feb 07, 2011
The construction of the motor on the track was by no means an accident, some random mashing together of chemical to form this structure. No, instead it took a team of highly intelligent people with loads of tools, time, energy and finance to come up with this - a COPY of what already exists. Evolution not required. We were created by a superior mind.


So, to boil your argument down: humans have built something complex, therefore life -and indeed the universe itself - was created by an all-powerful sky fairy?

Even by your laughably low standards, this is an argument so lacking in logic as to border on the witless...

Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2011
I hope you don't have kids Kev. You've already lined them up for future life failure.
ettinone
not rated yet Feb 07, 2011
Personally I am waiting for Kev to respond to the La Nina article.

In that article they mention how the La Nina effect can sometimes last up to two years... that would put us right on target for a superior mind wipe out in December 2012. It can't be conincidence right?

< sarcasm on >
Worlds_greatest_scientist
5 / 5 (1) Feb 08, 2011
All I can say is this is an amazing piece of research

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