Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Carnegie Mellon scientists create PNA molecule with potential to build nanodevices


For the first time, a team of investigators at Carnegie Mellon University has shown that the binding of metal ions can mediate the formation of peptide nucleic acid (PNA) duplexes from single strands of PNA that are only partly complementary. This result opens new opportunities to create functional, three-dimensional nanosize structures such as molecular-scale electronic circuits, which could reduce by thousands of times the size of today’s common electronic devices. The research results will appear in the October 26 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

"DNA nanotechnology has led to the construction of sophisticated three-dimensional nano-architectures composed exclusively from nucleic acid strands. These structures can acquire a completely new set of magnetic and electrical properties if metal ions are incorporated in the nucleic acids at specific locations because the metal ions have unpaired electrons," said Catalina Achim, assistant professor of chemistry at the Mellon College of Science. "Our goal is to harness the information storage ability of metal-containing PNAs to build molecular-scale devices – tiny replicas of today’s electronic circuit components, such as wires, diodes and transistors."

Normally, DNA occurs as the well-known double helix first proposed by James Watson and Francis Crick 50 years ago. Each strand of the helix consists of a backbone linked to nucleobases, which occupy the inside of the helix. Nucleobases of one strand bind only to specific nucleobases of a complementary strand, and the two strands wind around one another like a twisted ladder. Artificially manufactured PNAs incorporate nucleobases that are bound to a backbone chain of pseudo-amino acids, rather than the sugar-phosphate groups of DNA.

"In modifying our PNAs so that they are significantly more stable, we have discovered that the PNA strands don’t have to be fully complementary for a metal-containing PNA duplex to form. This is an important finding because it should permit us to use non-complementary parts of the PNA duplexes to construct larger structures, which are useful for material science applications," said Achim.

Two years ago, Achim was the first scientist to report the construction of PNA duplexes that contained metal ions (nickel ions, specifically) and ligands inserted in place of a central nucleobases pair. Since then, the researchers, including graduate students and postdocs Richard Watson, Yury Skorik and Goutam Patra, have synthesized PNAs with a variety of ligands and metal ions to broaden the range of thermal stability and electronic properties. By replacing a nucleobase of a PNA with the molecule 8-hydroxyquinoline, which readily binds to copper ions, the research team constructed PNAs whose nucleic acid strands are only partly complementary and found that these duplexes are held together by standard Watson-Crick nucleobase pairs, but also by bonds between copper ions and the 8-hydroxyquinolines projecting from each of the two strands.

Lauren Ward | EurekAlert!
Further information:

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 >>>