DNA, the fundamental building block of our genetic makeup, has become an intense nanotechnology research field. Nanotechnology researchers use it to create artificial rationally designed nanostructures for diverse applications in biology, chemistry, and physics. In a progress report, scientists focus on the different design paradigms (DNA origami and the related techniques are particularly emphasized), selected high-quality shapes, and the software that enable user-friendly design and fabrication of DNA nanoobjects.
Hydrogen bond base pairing forces are essential for the mechanisms associated with DNA stability. Despite attracting great research attention, this fundamental interaction has eluded a precise physical description so far since its electrical origin has not been quantified yet. Researchers now have proposed characterization by means of electrical forces, providing a framework for universal characterization of hydrogen bonds. In this way, they provide technical arguments to support that hydrogen bonds are well distinguishable and their role in biological events require a proper specific intrabond description.
DNA is well known as the genetic material, but has also been used as a building block for the construction of nanoscale structures and periodic arrays. One other application is the storage of information in DNA. Such an information storage method has many advantages including longevity and ability for highly dense storage, and is more suited for archival storage of data. In new work, scientists use shape-changing DNA nanostructures for short term storage of data, where the information is 'written' in different conformations of the nanostructures. The stored data can be easily read-out using gel electrophoresis, eliminating any multi-step or costly methods.
Synthetic nanomotors and DNA walkers, which mimic a cell's transportation system, are intricately designed systems that draw chemical energy from the environment and convert it into mechanical motion. Using such DNA walkers as signal amplifier for nucleic acids detection has only recently been reported. Researchers now report that they converted a DNA walker into a linear fluorescence signal amplifier on a rectangle DNA origami that can improve the detection of target molecules such as nucleic acids.
One reason why people are so excited about nanopore DNA sequencing is that the technology could possibly be used to create 'tricorder'-like devices for detecting pathogens or diagnosing genetic disorders rapidly and on-the-spot. Sequencing technologies have made it cheaper and faster to read the sequence of bases on a strand of DNA. A promising technology to take these advances further is nanopore sequencing. Yet, nanopores enable another important way to analyze DNA: genomes can also be mapped.
Presently, several techniques for detecting mRNAs are available,which include in situ hybridization and polymerase chain reaction. However, these single-point and end-point techniques require the killing of the cells and are thus unable to capture the expression of mRNA in real time and locality with high precision. In new work, scientists describe a new way of preparing functional DNA nanostructures that can provide accurate quantification and visualization of mRNA transcripts in living cells.
Biomineralization is the formation of inorganic materials in a biological environment, as it is found in bones, teeth and shells. Certain biominerals are also often associated with pathogeneses of tissues. The correlation of the composition of biominerals with pathogeneses of tissues has not been investigated systematically. In new work, researchers examine how the composition of biominerals correlates with the production of inflammatory cytokines associated with the stimulation of intracellular DNA sensors and by biominerals themselves.
Research related to molecular logic gates is a fast growing and very active area and molecular devices have become the new frontier in computing. Researchers now have designed and synthesized self-assembled DNA complexes that sense two environmental signals and produce a fluorescent outputs corresponding to the operation of all six Boolean logic gates AND, NAND, OR, NOR, XOR, and XNOR. This study could help improvements in the fields of molecular computation and intelligent drug delivery.