DNA is not merely a carrier of genetic information; DNA is a useful building material for nanoscale structures. In a way similar to origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, a long single strand of DNA can be folded into nearly any three-dimensional shape desired with the use of short DNA fragments.
Various methods for binding proteins to DNA-origami structures have previously been developed, but in most cases they require modification of the protein. “A method based only on proteins is desirable,” says Morii, “because it would simplify and accelerate the binding of proteins to the origami.”
Morii and his team settled on the use of zinc-finger proteins as “adapters”. A polypeptide chain of zinc-finger protein grabs a zinc ion to form a stable compact fold; this fold referred to as a “zinc finger” and can bind to specific DNA patterns. It is possible to make zinc fingers that recognize any DNA pattern desired.
The scientists produced rectangular origami structures with several defined cavities. At these locations, the origamis contain various DNA-recognition patterns for different zinc fingers. The researchers then made proteins that contain zinc-finger units at one end and a fluorescing protein or biotin molecule at the other end. Biotin binds specifically to the large protein streptavidin. Atomic force microscopic images show that the streptavidin molecules always bind specifically to the intended cavity in the origami rectangle.
“Our results demonstrate that zinc fingers are suitable site-selective adapters for targeting specific locations within DNA-origami structures,” says Morii. “Several different adapters carrying different proteins can independently bind at defined locations on this type of nanostructure.”
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201108199
Takashi Morii | Angewandte Chemie
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