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Background of Project

There are many previous studies related to the spontaneous activities of biomolecules like kinesin, which is a class of motor proteins, or walking DNA robots. But genuine nano-scale rotating DNA motors were not yet created. In our project, we are aiming at creating the DNA screw system to achieve this goal. The DNA screw was name after the rotary motion which is similar to that of screws. The rotation system is used to create the complex motion with any devices, such as drills, screws and clocks. Therefore we have thought that the nano-scale rotation system enables us to extend the future of DNA engineering. By this particular rotation move, the DNA screw is not just an other molecular motor, but a scalable and potential new feature for more complex molecular devicesIn addition, DNA is a stable material than protein and can be used in various environments (ex. Temperature, pH and salt-density).

Process of the making DNA screw


Vision for the future

One of our project’s applications is a suspension rod. Let’s imagine a pointer used in class lectures. The rod contains many cylinders and can extend and shrink by changing a relative distance of each cylinder. Inner cylinder corresponds to the DNA cylinder and outer one does to the DNA ring in our project. In addition, how the rod stretch can be controlled by ordering DNA strands. For example, the rod, which has zigzag-placed strands in parallel to the cylinder's axis, can shrink and suspend spontaneously.

By using suspending movement, our DNA screw can act as a biophysical sensor measures kinetic properties. For example, DNA screw can be applied to unfolding proteins. Attaching the cylinder to a protein, the ring stretches protein’s one end.

Furthermore, this DNA suspension rod can provide a dynamical creating methodology for large micro-scale structures from nano-scale objects such as DNA tensegrity by Liedl et al. (2010). We assume that our DNA cylinders can function as strings and rod-shape structures such as carbon nanotube can work as rods. This method contains three steps. First, combining DNA cylinders and nano rods. Second, starting DNA spiders' movements and reaching a maximum-strength state. Third, cutting connections between DNA cylinders and nano rods and discomposing a large tensegrity structure.

Reference: Tim Liedl, Björn Högberg, Jessica Tytell, Donald E. Ingber, and William M. Shih, Self-assembly of 3D prestressed tensegrity structures from DNA. Nat Nanotechnol. 2010 July ; 5(7): 520–524.

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