The Purdue University research team that recently created a tiny motor out of synthetic biological molecules has found further evidence that RNA molecules can perform physical work, a discovery that could advance nanotechnology and possibly solve fundamental mysteries about life itself.
One promising application of RNA-ATP binding is this microscopic motor, assembled by Peixuan Guos team at Purdue University. The motor, only a few nanometers wide, is formed by six strands of RNA surrounding an "axle" made of DNA. When fed a supply of ATP as fuel, the RNA molecules kick against the DNA in succession, much like the pistons in a conventional motor. (Graphic/Guo Laboratory)
Purdues Peixuan Guo has discovered how viral RNA molecules bind an energy-bearing organic molecule known as ATP. While linking these two substances might seem to create no more than a longer string of letters, the upshot is that now one of lifes most mysterious and ancient storehouses of information can be moved by one of its most important fuels. The discovery could shed light on the fundamental role RNA plays in the creation of living things.
"RNA could be even more of a key player than we realize," said Guo, professor of veterinary pathobiology in Purdues School of Veterinary Medicine. "The fact that it can be made to bind ATP in the phi29 virus could imply that these two molecules were among the first to partner in Earths dance of life."
Chad Boutin | EurekAlert!
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