Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Designer piercings: New membrane pores with DNA nanotechnology

Abstract:
A new way to build membrane-crossing pores, using Lego-like DNA building blocks, has been developed by scientists at UCL, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Cambridge and the University of Southampton.

Designer piercings: New membrane pores with DNA nanotechnology

London, UK | Posted on November 4th, 2013

The approach provides a simple and low cost tool for synthetic biology and the technique has potential applications in diagnostic devices and drug discovery. The research is featured in the current issue of the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Membrane pores are the gateways controlling the transport of essential molecules across the otherwise impermeable membranes that surround cells in living organisms. Typically made from proteins, pores of different sizes control the flow of ions and molecules both and in and out of the cell as part of an organism's metabolism.

Our understanding of membrane pores comes both from the study of both natural pores, and from equivalent structures built in the lab by synthetic biologists. But synthetic proteins are notoriously difficult to handle due to the complex and often unpredictable ways in which their structures can fold. Even minor protein misfolding changes a protein's properties, meaning that building synthetic pores out of proteins can be risky and time-consuming.

A more straightforward approach is so-called 'rational engineering' using Lego-like DNA building blocks. Although generally known as life's genetic code, DNA strands, which are chemically much simpler than proteins, are far easier and more predictable to work with than proteins. As such they are a useful material for building nanoscale structures in the lab.

"DNA is a construction material that follows very simple rules", said Dr Stefan Howorka (UCL Chemistry). "New nanostructures can be easily designed using a computer programme, and the elements fit together like Lego bricks. So we can build more or less whatever we like."

Using this approach, the team built a tiny tube measuring just 14 nanometres along and 5.5 nanometres across (around 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair). This formed the main part of their artificial nanopore. However, to insert the tube into a cell membrane, a key challenge had to be addressed: the water-soluble DNA-based structure will not embed itself into the greasy membrane which is composed of lipids.

To overcome this, the scientists chemically attached to the DNA tube two large anchors, made of molecules which have a natural affinity for lipids. These structures were then able to embed the tube into the membrane. These structures, which are based on naturally derived porphyrins, were designed by a group led by Dr Eugen Stulz (University of Southampton).

"Porphyrin molecules have ideal characteristics for our purposes," Stulz explains. "They are a strong membrane anchor, which locks the nanopore securely into the lipid membrane. In addition, they are fluorescent, which means they are easy to see and study. This makes them superior to other technologies."

The pores were characterised with electrical and fluorescence measurements in collaboration with Dr Ulrich Keyser (Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge).

The simplicity of self-assembling a structure with only two anchors (previous studies used 26 or even 72 such anchors) greatly streamlines the design and synthesis of nanopores.

"In future, this new process will enable us to tailor DNA nanopores for a much wider range of applications than are currently possible," Keyser says.

The ability to create synthetic channels through lipid membranes enables numerous applications in the life sciences. In the first instance, DNA nanopores are of great interest for biosensing, such as rapid DNA analysis.

But tailored pores can also be expected to aid the development of new drugs. Prototype drugs are typically designed to affect a biological target, but are not engineered to cross the cell membrane. Self-assembled pores provide a route for drugs to pass into cells, allowing for much faster pre-clinical screening for activity.

####

About University College London
Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine.

We are among the world's top universities, as reflected by our performance in a range of international rankings and tables. According to the Thomson Scientific Citation Index, UCL is the second most highly cited European university and the 15th most highly cited in the world.

UCL has nearly 27,000 students from 150 countries and more than 9,000 employees, of whom one third are from outside the UK. The university is based in Bloomsbury in the heart of London, but also has two international campuses – UCL Australia and UCL Qatar. Our annual income is more than £800 million.

Follow us on Twitter @uclnews | Watch our YouTube channel YouTube.com/UCLTV

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Clare Ryan

44-020-310-83846
out of hours +44 (0)7917 271 364

Copyright © University College London

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

The paper is published online in Angewandte Chemie here:

Related News Press

News and information

French Institutes IRT Nanoelec and CMP Team up to Offer World’s First Service for Post-process 3D Technologies on Multi-Project-Wafer March 5th, 2015

The George Washington University Opens Science and Engineering Hall, Largest Building of Its Kind in D.C.: Building Represents Significant Investment in Research Programs and Facilities; Commitment to Solve Global Problems, Improve Lives of Millions March 5th, 2015

Anousheh Ansari Wins the National Space Society's Space Pioneer Award for "Service to the Space Community" March 5th, 2015

Enhanced Graphene Components for Next Generation Racing Yacht March 5th, 2015

Nanomedicine

Patent for the Novel Cancer Therapies – Ceramide Nanoliposomes March 4th, 2015

Arrowhead to Present at 2015 Barclays Global Healthcare Conference March 4th, 2015

Democratizing synthetic biology: New method makes research cheaper, faster, and more accessible March 3rd, 2015

Pens filled with high-tech inks for do-it-yourself sensors March 3rd, 2015

Discoveries

Enhanced Graphene Components for Next Generation Racing Yacht March 5th, 2015

American Chemical Society Presidential Symposia: nanoscience, international chemistry March 5th, 2015

Magnetic vortices in nanodisks reveal information: Researchers from Dresden and Jülich use microwaves to read out information from smallest storage devices March 4th, 2015

CiQUS researchers obtain high-quality perovskites over large areas by a chemical method March 4th, 2015

Announcements

The George Washington University Opens Science and Engineering Hall, Largest Building of Its Kind in D.C.: Building Represents Significant Investment in Research Programs and Facilities; Commitment to Solve Global Problems, Improve Lives of Millions March 5th, 2015

Anousheh Ansari Wins the National Space Society's Space Pioneer Award for "Service to the Space Community" March 5th, 2015

Enhanced Graphene Components for Next Generation Racing Yacht March 5th, 2015

Get ready for NanoDays! March 5th, 2015

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Strength in numbers: Researchers develop the first-ever quantum device that detects and corrects its own errors March 4th, 2015

Energy-generating cloth could replace batteries in wearable devices March 4th, 2015

Experiment and theory unite at last in debate over microbial nanowires: New model and experiments settle debate over metallic-like conductivity of microbial nanowires in bacterium March 4th, 2015

Magnetic vortices in nanodisks reveal information: Researchers from Dresden and Jülich use microwaves to read out information from smallest storage devices March 4th, 2015

Nanobiotechnology

Experiment and theory unite at last in debate over microbial nanowires: New model and experiments settle debate over metallic-like conductivity of microbial nanowires in bacterium March 4th, 2015

Untangling DNA with a droplet of water, a pipet and a polymer: With the 'rolling droplet technique,' a DNA-injected water droplet rolls like a ball over a platelet, sticking the DNA to the plate surface February 27th, 2015

Bacteria network for food: Bacteria connect to each other and exchange nutrients February 23rd, 2015

Building tailor-made DNA nanotubes step by step: New, block-by-block assembly method could pave way for applications in opto-electronics, drug delivery February 23rd, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE