Saturday, May 16, 2009

pushing the limit on DNA Origami : Nanoscale capped-box of DNA

Foreword :

A recent paper (May, 2009) in Nature talks about the most recent addition to the art and science of DNA-Origami.


Introduction to the work:

A multidisciplinary team of 15 researchers have created a DNA 'strong-box' adorned with a lid. This is the newest addition to the spectacular 'art-science' of "DNA origami" - in which oligonucleotides (short strands of nucleic acid) are used to fold longer strands of DNA into complex structures.

The allure to make 3-D DNA nanostructures had been there for quite some time, and the paper successfully attempts just that.

Methodology :

Initially the researchers wrote a computer program that would determine the genetic sequences needed to make their nanoscale 3-D box. The program begins with a digital model of a very long strand of DNA. Then, in accordance with the desired shape, it selects some 250 oligonucleotides that will attach to the DNA and aid its assembly into the desired form.

The team could also make compatible locks to their strong-boxes. A short sequence attached to one side of the box would cause it to unstitch and open in the presence of another short DNA 'key' sequence.

Promising applications :

These could be potentially used as 'cages' to deliver drugs or act as nano-biosensors.

Reference citations :

1. Andersen, E. S. et al. Nature 459, 73–76 (2009).

2. Douglas, S.M., Chou, J. J. & Shih, W. M. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 104, 6644–6648 (2007).

3. Rothemund, P. W. K. Nature 440, 297–302 (2006).


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