DNA Origami - Method

Method

Developed by Paul Rothemund at the California Institute of Technology, the process involves the folding of a long single strand of viral DNA aided by multiple smaller "staple" strands. These shorter strands bind the longer in various places, resulting in various shapes, including a smiley face and a coarse map of China and the Americas, along with many three-dimensional structures such as cubes.

To produce a desired shape, images are drawn with a raster fill of a single long DNA molecule. This design is then fed into a computer program that calculates the placement of individual staple strands. Each staple binds to a specific region of the DNA template, and thus due to Watson-Crick base pairing, the necessary sequences of all staple strands are known and displayed. The DNA is mixed, then heated and cooled. As the DNA cools, the various staples pull the long strand into the desired shape. Designs are directly observable via several methods, including Electron Microscopy, atomic force microscopy, or fluorescence microscopy when DNA is coupled to fluorescent materials.

Bottom-up self assembly methods are considered promising alternatives that offer cheap, parallel synthesis of nanostructures under relatively mild conditions.

Read more about this topic:  DNA Origami

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