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Posted: Apr 10, 2006

CAS scientists develop a new DNA-based logical gate

(Nanowerk News) A cross-disciplinary research team, headed by Prof. FAN Chunhai from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics, Prof. HE Lin, a CAS Member, and Prof. ZHANG Zhizhou at the Bio-X Research Center under Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), succeeded in developing a new type of logical gate by applying the deoxyribozyme (DNAzyme), adding a new brick to the groundwork of a DNA-based computation. The related research results, titled "Construction of Molecular Logic Gates with a DNA-Cleaving Deoxyribozyme" have been reported on the German journal Angewandte Chemie.
The DNA computation is a newly emerging discipline coming from the interdisciplinary fusion of computer science with molecular biology. Because the molecule of the DNA is noted for its powerful computing capability and super-high storage capacity and therefore, the future DNA computer will be able to solve some extremely difficult problems which are now puzzling the up-to-date mini-electronic computers. In addition, it is expected to make the new gadget applicable to drug shipment in the human body or genetic analysis. In spite of the bright perspective, there are still many knotty problems waiting for their solution. The recent success in developing a DNA-based logic gate by CAS and SJTU scientists is a stride forward at this orientation.
The DNAzyme is a structure of the nucleic acid with a certain enzymatic bio-activity through the ex-situ screening. In Prof. Fan's work, the DNAzyme obtains its bio-activity in hydrolysis. Its hammer-shaped structure may be oxidized in the presence of copper ions as the catalyst and cut itself off from the substrate DNA. Based on this, modular design may be applied to the development of a DNA-based logic gate. Via a certain bio-molecular sensor, the input signal is able to give rise to output signal, hence realizing the logical judgement on "YES" or "NOT". Theoretically, all algorithms owned by a Turing Machine might be realized by their combinatorial arrangements.
The uniqueness of the new gadget lies in the dismissal of the RNA nucleotide's participation as only DNA molecules are involved in the new gate's composition. This means the instability in the system brought in by the RNA nucleotide may be avoided.
Source: CAS
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