Jun 3, 2009
Proteins pass nano-templating test
Self-assembly is an attractive bottom-up method for inexpensive and parallel synthesis of nanostructures. It does not require expensive equipment and extreme conditions. However, due to the nature of building blocks, self-assembled structures are usually periodic. The development of methods for the programmable and precise assembly of materials into complex patterns at the nanometre scale is one of the major goals of nanotechnology.
Researchers in Finland are examining the potential of DNA origami structures as templates for the assembly of streptavidin protein. As shown in the figure above, proteins can be assembled into complex patterns with high yield and precision.
Owing to its unique self-assembly properties, DNA could become a key player in bottom-up fabrication methods of nanoscale systems. The DNA origami technique is a perfect example of the potential of DNA self-assembly. It involves the folding of long single-stranded DNA with the help of short oligonucleotides (so-called staple strands). Each staple strand has a unique sequence and position inside the origami structure and can be separately functionalized. This allows DNA origami structures to be used as planar nanoscale templates for the complex assembly of various materials such as proteins, carbon nanotubes and metal nanoparticles with a resolution and accuracy comparable to state-of-the-art lithographic techniques.
The results suggest that a large variety of proteins can be arranged using DNA origami assembly. The technique has the potential for creating multiprotein assemblies with nanometre-scale precision, as well as the potential for efficient self-assembly of complex nanostructures made from materials relevant for electronics, optics and sensing.
The team published its work in Nanotechnology.
About the author
The work was performed at Helsinki University of Technology. Anton Kuzyk is a PhD student at University of Jyväskylä and Helsinki University of Technology. His research interests include DNA nanotechnology and molecular electronics. Kimmo Laitinen recently graduated with MSc degree from University of Jyväskylä. Päivi Törmä is a professor at the Department of Applied Physics, Helsinki University of Technology. Her current research topics are quantum dynamics of many-body systems, ultra-cold Fermi gases (theory) and programmable materials and molecular electronics (experiment).