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Fast DNA Origami Opens Way For Nanoscale Machines

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the building-with-nano-cranes dept.

Biotech 21

ananyo writes "DNA strands can be coaxed to fold up into shapes in a matter of minutes, reveals a study published in Science (abstract). The finding could radically speed up progress in the field of DNA origami. DNA origami involves using short DNA strands to hold a longer, folded strand in place at certain points, like sticky tape. Until now, assembling the shape has involved heating the DNA and allowing it to cool slowly for up to a week. But researchers at the Technical University of Munich in Germany have worked out that for most of the cooling period, nothing happens. But when a crucial temperature is reached, the whole structure forms suddenly. The researchers now aim to design nanostructures with optimal folding temperatures close to 37 C, the temperature at which mammalian cell cultures are grown, so that DNA machines could one day be used in biological settings."

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BUT CAN ANYONE NOTICE ?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42287397)

It being so small !!

Someone get me a ladder !!

programming (1)

schneidafunk (795759) | about 2 years ago | (#42287531)

From TFA: "So in 2004 and 2005 he spent months, he says, programming in his underpants, trying to work out a way to bend a 7,000-base-pair viral genome to his will. "

Do these guys work from home or is he in his underpants at a lab?

Re:programming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288039)

Mom's basement.

Re:programming (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#42288241)

A tech support company I was working at had showers at one of their locations.

Supposedly they closed off the showers after people were taking calls in towels.

WELCOME MY SON WELCOME TO THE MACHINE !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42287649)

Where have you been ?? It's all right !! We know where you've been !! You've been in the pipline filling your time !!

So Welcome !! To the machine !!

Why not Protein instead? (2)

m.shenhav (948505) | about 2 years ago | (#42287983)

While I'm sure there are good reasons - could anybody with BioChemical expertise illuminate them?

Re:Why not Protein instead? (2)

TheCrazyMonkey (1003596) | about 2 years ago | (#42288119)

My guess is that custom proteins are harder to synthesize on demand. Generally if you want a custom protein you synthesize the DNA coding it, then insert it into a cell and have it produce the protein. Plus, DNA can be duplicated in vitro through conventional PCR where it's not really viable to transcribe proteins outside of a living cell.

Re:Why not Protein instead? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288625)

My guess is that custom proteins are harder to synthesize on demand. Generally if you want a custom protein you synthesize the DNA coding it, then insert it into a cell and have it produce the protein. Plus, DNA can be duplicated in vitro through conventional PCR where it's not really viable to transcribe proteins outside of a living cell.

While this is certainly all true, it is not the main reason. The main reason is design complexity. Single stranded DNA (ssDNA) has a really easy set of association rules; A pairs with T and G pairs with C. DNA origami is constructed of a viral DNA and many many DNA "staple" oligos, so the folding of DNA origami is actually done by one big dna molecule annealing to many shorter ones, which coax it to fold into cool shapes.

If you compare this to proteins, which are strings of amino acids, which don't have easy rules about how they form their primary structure. Also designing arbitrary protein-protein interactions is much more complicated and currently an intractable problem.

Re:Why not Protein instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42289953)

Not intractable, just really fucking hard:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20460129 [nih.gov]
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21566186 [nih.gov]

Re:Why not Protein instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42296617)

I'm familiar with the second work and I doubt even David Baker would say that /arbitrary/ protein-protein interactions are possible to design right now. That said the Baker lab has done some amazing stuff and in some cases it is doable and it's getting easier every day thanks to in part the Baker lab.

37 degrees -- shoulda guessed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288137)

The critical temperature has to be close to the human/mammal body temperature. It's been known forever in statistical mechanics that DNA should unzip about the same temperature.

Re:37 degrees -- shoulda guessed (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 2 years ago | (#42288345)

Well, mammals in general have a relatively wide body temperature. About 34-40C.

And human body temperatures fluctuate across most of that range - exercise & sickness are easy points. What happens to DNA folding/protein building when body temp isn't at 37C?

Re:37 degrees -- shoulda guessed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288553)

Well, mammals in general have a relatively wide body temperature. About 34-40C.

And human body temperatures fluctuate across most of that range - exercise & sickness are easy points. What happens to DNA folding/protein building when body temp isn't at 37C?

The rate of folding either increases or decreases. Unless you get too far above the temperature at which the DNA folds. In that case no folding would occur and the DNA would remain in an unfolded disordered state. If it is already folded though, slight temperature fluctuations won't have any affect on the tertiary structure of the molecule.

Re:37 degrees -- shoulda guessed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42289289)

That is extremities and outer-layer of body temperature. Deep within body temperature keeps constant 36.7 C. At which biochemical processes materialize.

Re:37 degrees -- shoulda guessed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42291589)

Not exactly, the respiratory, circulitory, sweat, and other systems work very carefully to maintain the essential inner components at ~36.7 C, but "deep within" can fluctuate even in a healthy individual.

Hypothermia happens when the internal typical body temperature drops around a degree or two and does not successfully re-adjust upward, and fever (a typical response to infections) results in a body-wide increase of a few degrees with a chance of damaging your own cells.

So, while a 34 C body temperature is not healthy for a human, it is not outside of the range of survivable (as long as you get warmed up soon).

Re:37 degrees -- shoulda guessed (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 2 years ago | (#42291957)

So you've never had a fever? Or ever heard of anyone ever having a fever? Ever?

Re:37 degrees -- shoulda guessed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288505)

If DNA unzipped at our body temperatures, we would be dead.

Bzzzzzzzzz. Try again. The melting temperature for natural DNA is very high, and can be close to 100 deg C or more (depending on salt concentration).

Duh! Chemistry 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42289161)

Certain chemical processes happen only at a certain temperature. That's why I got a D in chemistry. Didn't get it back then. Now I know. Metallurgy also involves chemical processes, but done at much higher temperature grades, some at 700 C, some at 1450 C...... Now, that's HOT!

Fa1lzor5? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42292389)

Decline3 iQn market

(plus one INfoUrmative) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42293099)

PAY ATTENTION (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42295959)

We are starting to understand how matter organizes itself into life. Forget all the hoary old sci-fi cliches of space colonies and warp drives. Those will never happen, ever, under any currently understood system of physics and engineering.

Life is about to get a whole lot more interesting and longer! Are you up for the challenge, or are you going to crawl back into your own belly and hide from reality?

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