De la Cruz:Research
Evolution and Ecology
Molecular EnginesDNA transfer across membranes and between cells by conjugation is a clear example of a rapid and natural way to acquire new genetic information, not only between bacteria, but also between yeast, plants and even animal cells. All conjugative systems contain a key protein in the membrane to carry out this process: the DNA transporter. In our system, the DNA transporter is TrwB and its crystallographic structure has been recently solved.
To analyze the activity of TrwB, we are going to apply an emerging technique: nanotechnology, which makes possible single-molecule observation and manipulation. This technique will allow us to analyze in detail the DNA translocation process on TrwB and estimate the velocity and efficiency of this bionanomachine. Together with a biochemical and structural characterization of the protein, TrwB will be reconstituted into liposomes, a widely used vector in genetic therapy, to carry out DNA transport experiments through lipidic membranes. Reproduction of TrwB activity in vitro will constitute an important step for future biotechnological applications, such as DNA injection into animal cells for therapeutic purposes.