Chemists create novel DNA assembly line

May 12, 2010

Chemists at New York University and China's Nanjing University have created a DNA assembly line that has the potential to create novel materials efficiently on the nanoscale. Their work is reported in the latest issue of the journal Nature.

"An industrial assembly line includes a factory, workers, and a conveyor system," said NYU Chemistry Professor Nadrian Seeman, the study's senior author. "We have emulated each of those features using DNA components."

The assembly line relies on three DNA-based components.

The first is DNA origami, a composition that uses a few hundred short DNA strands to direct a very long to form structures to any desired shape. These shapes are approximately 100 x 100 nanometers in area, and about 2 nm thick (a nanometer is one billionth of a meter). DNA origami serves as the assembly line's framework and also houses its track.

The second are three DNA machines, or cassettes, that serve as programmable cargo-donating devices. The cargo species the researchers used are , which measure 5 to 10 nanometers in diameter. Changing the cassette's control sequences allows the researchers to enable or prevent the donation of the cargoes to the growing construct.

The third is a DNA "walker," which is analogous to the chassis of a car being assembled. It moves along the assembly line's track, stopping at the DNA machines to collect and carry the DNA "cargo."

As the walker moves along the pathway prescribed by the tile track, it encounters sequentially the three DNA devices. These devices can be switched between an "on" state, allowing its cargo to be transferred to the walker, and an "off" state, in which no transfer occurs. In this way, the DNA product at the end of the assembly line may include cargo picked up from one, two, or three of the DNA machines.

"A key feature of the is the programmability of the cargo-donating DNA machines, which allows the generation of eight different products," explained Seeman.

Explore further: Crystallizing the DNA nanotechnology dream: Scientists have designed the first large DNA crystals

Related Stories

Chemists create bipedal, autonomous DNA walker

Apr 02, 2009

Chemists at New York University and Harvard University have created a bipedal, autonomous DNA "walker" that can mimic a cell's transportation system. The device, which marks a step toward more complex synthetic molecular ...

Nanoscale origami from DNA

Aug 06, 2009

Scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) and Harvard University have thrown the lid off a new toolbox for building nanoscale structures out of DNA, with complex twisting and curving shapes. ...

DNA constraints control structure of attached macromolecules

Jun 28, 2005

A new method for manipulating macromolecules has been developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The technique uses double-stranded DNA to direct the behavior of other molecules. In previous ...

Recommended for you

Energy storage of the future

2 hours ago

Personal electronics such as cell phones and laptops could get a boost from some of the lightest materials in the world.

User comments : 0