Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New method provides researchers with efficient tool for tagging proteins


Aarhus University researchers have developed an easier method to create DNA–protein conjugates. The method can potentially strengthen the work involved in diagnosing diseases.

DNA linked to proteins – including antibodies – provides a strong partnership that can be used in diagnostic techniques, nanotechnology and other disciplines. DNA–protein conjugates – which tag proteins with DNA – can be used for purposes such as the sensitive detection and visualisation of biological material. The method also provides easier access to handling proteins in nanotechnology, where the DNA acts as a handle on the protein.

With a new method, researchers use a piece of DNA engineered to bind to metal ions. Using this ‘control stick’, they direct another piece of DNA to a metal binding site on the protein. Illustration: Nature Chemistry

Controlling the conjugation of macromolecules such as DNA and proteins can be quite a challenge when scientists want to join them in particular ways and places. Researchers at Aarhus University have now developed a new and efficient method to tag proteins with DNA, making it much simpler to control the process than previously. The new method was developed at the Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for DNA Nanotechnology (CDNA) in collaboration between researchers at Aarhus University’s Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Centre (iNANO), Department of Chemistry and Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. The work is described in the highly prestigious scientific journal Nature Chemistry.

“Maintaining the protein’s function and activity often requires the attachment of only a single DNA strand to the protein. At the same time, it can be important to know where the DNA strand is attached to the protein. You can normally only achieve this if you are working with genetically engineered proteins. This is a time-consuming and technically challenging process,” explains PhD student Christian B. Rosen, CDNA, Aarhus University – one of the researchers behind the new method.

The new method makes it possible to direct the tagging of proteins with DNA to a particular site on the protein, without genetically modifying the protein beforehand. In other words, it is possible to tag natural proteins, including antibodies.

The researchers use a piece of DNA that is engineered to bind to metal ions. Using this ‘control stick’, they direct another piece of DNA to a metal binding site on the protein, where it reacts. A considerable number of proteins bind metal ions, which makes them suitable for this method. A significant point in using this method is that the tagged proteins retain their functionality after being bound to DNA.

The researchers are applying for a patent for the new method, which has potential in a number of areas.

“Of greatest importance is the fact that we can use our technique for tagging antibodies. Antibodies that are chemically bound (conjugated) to chemotherapeutics represent an entirely new class of medicine in which the antibody part is used to recognise specific tissue and the chemotherapeutic part is used to kill the cell. When you tag antibodies, it’s important that you keep the recognition element of the antibody intact. With our method, we strike the constant part of the antibody and not the variable part, which contains its recognition element. Our technique is therefore general for a major class of proteins,” explains Anne Louise Bank Kodal, CDNA, another author of the article.

The researchers are working on further developing the method so they can attach chemotherapeutics to antibodies and not just DNA.

Read the article in Nature Chemistry.

For more information, please contact

PhD student Christian B. Rosen
CDNA at iNANO and Department of Chemistry

PhD student Anne Louise Bank Kodal
CDNA at iNANO and Department of Chemistry

Postdoctoral Fellow Thomas Tørring
CDNA at iNANO (currently at Yale University, USA)

Professor and Director Kurt Gothelf
CDNA at iNANO and Department of Chemistry

Christian B. Rosen | Eurek Alert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Aarhus Antibodies Controlling DNA Molecular Nanoscience Nanotechnology Nature function ions method protein proteins

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>