Biomod/2011/IITM/AcidArtists/Reference papers/Paper 6

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Overview of the Paper

This is more of a quick glance summary of the NewsFocus article in Science, Vol. 332, page 1140. We put forward this as they could be useful in introducing the field to students for the first time.

"It's an amusing but pointless exercise"

  • Nanotechnology would benefit hugely from building materials and nanoscaled structures from the bottom up - atom by atom.
  • DNA nanotechnology has given nanotechnology enough advance in this direction by providing a means to program self assembly, use CAD like approaches and to get molecular recognition capacities of DNA.
  • "However, the field has been searching for relevance".

"DNA Nanotech enters adolescence"

  • Can help scientists map the atomic structure of Proteins
  • Perform computations INSIDE cells
  • Can allow for molecular tracking and hence be used to create data-sets as powerful as those currently used in other well developed fields.

The beginnings : Nad Seeman

  • Crystallography is used to map the structure of Proteins. However, if we have no crystals, then we have "no crystallography and hence no crystallographer".
  • The epiphany has it's roots in the four armed and six armed artificial DNA branches that have tweaking of Watson-Crick base pairing at their hearts.
  • The idea was to make arrays out of DNA with inbuilt voids that could trap a Protein molecule.
  • The challenges were
    • "Floppy" (we use this word in memorandum of the floppy disk. Welcome SSD!) nature of the DNA had to be worked around, because the functional requirement of the lattice/array was rigidity.
    • Attaching/Tagging dsDNA with ssDNA that would be complementary to the other DNA molecules.
    • Synthesizers' limits on length of the nucleotide sequence.
    • Designing the strands themselves was a painful task!

The next Generation : DNA Origami

  • Paul Rothemund at CaliTech introduced DNA origami : a technique to fold a viral genome into a 2D shape with the use of staple strands.
  • Capacity to deal with genomes of 16K base pairs.