Relaxing DNA strands by using nano-channels

Aug 20, 2014
DNA in a nanochannel. Credit: SISSA

A simple and effective way of unravelling the often tangled mass of DNA is to 'thread' the strand into a nano-channel. A study carried out with the participation of the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste used simulations to measure the characteristics that this channel should have in order to achieve maximum efficiency.

With the widespread use of methods for DNA analysis and manipulation, it's certainly useful to find a way to unravel and relax the strands of this molecule that tends to form tangles spontaneously. One way is to use channels, or rather nano-channels, as Cristian Micheletti, SISSA research scientist, and Enzo Orlandini, of Padua University, did in a study just published in the journal Macro Letters.

The idea is to force the DNA into the so as to relax it completely. "But not just any channel will do," explains Micheletti. "Depending on the diameter of the nano-channel, the strand extremities can arrange into hook-like structures that will end up forming a knot".

"In our study we used simulation techniques to characterise the mechanisms leading to knot formation as a function of the diameter of the channel", Micheletti continues.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This is a model DNA chain inside a nanochannel that is 100nm wide. The spontaneous dynamical evolution of the DNA is accompanied by frequent knotting and entanglement at the chain ends. Credit: SISSA

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This is a model DNA chain inside a nanochannel that is 100nm wide. The spontaneous dynamical evolution of the DNA is accompanied by frequent knotting and entanglement at the chain ends. Credit: SISSA


Explore further: The electric slide dance of DNA knots

Provided by International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

5 /5 (4 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The electric slide dance of DNA knots

Jul 23, 2014

DNA has the nasty habit of getting tangled and forming knots. Scientists study these knots to understand their function and learn how to disentangle them (e.g. useful for gene sequencing techniques). Cristian ...

Viruses are as simple as they are "smart"

Nov 25, 2013

Viruses are as simple as they are "smart": too elementary to be able to reproduce by themselves, they exploit the reproductive "machinery" of cells, by inserting pieces of their own DNA so that it is transcribed ...

DNA: How to unravel the tangle

Mar 29, 2013

A research coordinated by the scientists at SISSA of Trieste has now developed and studied a numeric model of the chromosome that supports the experimental data and provides a hypothesis on the bundle's function.

The movement of proteins

Mar 05, 2013

Cristian Micheletti, a scientist of the International School for Advanced Studies of Trieste (SISSA), has published in Physics of Life Reviews a review on an innovative instrument for protein analysis, a method for which ...

Recommended for you

Nanosafety research: The quest for the gold standard

Oct 29, 2014

Empa toxicologist Harald Krug has lambasted his colleagues in the journal Angewandte Chemie. He evaluated several thousand studies on the risks associated with nanoparticles and discovered no end of shortc ...

New nanodevice to improve cancer treatment monitoring

Oct 27, 2014

In less than a minute, a miniature device developed at the University of Montreal can measure a patient's blood for methotrexate, a commonly used but potentially toxic cancer drug. Just as accurate and ten ...

Molecular beacons shine light on how cells 'crawl'

Oct 24, 2014

Adherent cells, the kind that form the architecture of all multi-cellular organisms, are mechanically engineered with precise forces that allow them to move around and stick to things. Proteins called integrin ...

User comments : 0

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.