A 3-D model of a DNA nanostructure. In figure A, three long cylinders of individual helices (black) contain regularly spaced intervals of aptamers (red) which can bind to a protein. In figure (B), a thrombin protein (green circle) binds to the DNA aptamer structure.
An atomic force microscopy image of the thrombin/DNA complex. The DNA appears as two long threads in the center of the image, with the brighter spots corresponding to thrombin proteins attached to the DNA.
In the fifty-year history since the structure of DNA was first revealed, what was once a Nobel prize- winning research discovery has become an omnipresent cultural icon co-opted for promoting everything from fragrances to musical acts. Now, the familiar DNA double helix is serving as a microscopic trellis in order to further advances in nanotechnology aimed at improving human health.
Hao Yan, a researcher at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University and an assistant professor in ASU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, recently created unique arrays of proteins tethered onto self-assembled DNA nanostructures.
While other efforts in recent years have focused on learning how to build DNA-based nanostructures, Yan’s work is novel because it makes it feasible to attach any desired biomolecule onto DNA nanostructures. Such work is an important step and can serve as a future foundation for biocatalytic networks, drug discovery or ultrasensitive detection systems.
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