Being able to sequence a human genome for $1,000 or less (which is the price most insurance companies are willing to pay) could open a new era in personal medicine, making it possible to precisely diagnose the cause of many diseases and tailor drugs and treatment procedures to the genetic make-up of an individual.
“Despite the tremendous interest in using nanopores for sequencing DNA, it was unclear how, exactly, nanopores could be used to read the DNA sequence,” said U. of I. physics professor Aleksei Aksimentiev. “We now describe one such method.”
Aksimentiev and collaborators describe the method in a paper accepted for publication in the journal Nano Letters, and posted on the journal’s Web site.
“Through molecular dynamics simulations, we demonstrate that back-and-forth motion of a DNA molecule in a nanopore capacitor 1 nanometer in diameter produces an electrostatic fingerprint that can be used to read the genetic sequence,” said Aksimentiev, who also is a researcher at the Beckman Institute.
In the researchers’ simulations, performed at the university’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the nanopore capacitor consists of two conducting layers of doped silicon, separated by an insulating layer of silicon dioxide.
As DNA passes through the nanopore, the molecule’s electric field induces sequence-specific electrostatic potentials that can be detected at the top and bottom layers of the capacitor membrane.
A semiconductor device capable of reading the electrostatic potentials and decoding the genetic sequence is within the grasp of current technology, Aksimentiev said.
“Nanometer pores in electronic membranes have been manufactured, and the voltage signals resulting from DNA movement through such pores have been recorded.”
The next big challenge, Aksimentiev said, is to minimize noise in the system, and reduce the speed of DNA molecules moving through the pore.
With Aksimentiev, co-authors of the paper are postdoctoral research associate and lead author Grigori Sigalov, electrical and computer engineering professor Gregory Timp and graduate student Jeffrey Comer.
The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the University of Illinois.
James E. Kloeppel | University of Illinois
Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy
24.03.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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