Researchers Perform DNA Computation in Living Cells
Chemists from North Carolina State University have performed a DNA-based logic-gate operation within a human cell. The research may pave the way to more complicated computations in live cells, as well as new methods of disease detection and treatment.
Logic gates are the means by which computers “compute,” as sets of them are combined in different ways to enable computers to ultimately perform tasks like addition or subtraction. In DNA computing, these gates are created by combining different strands of DNA, rather than a series of transistors. However, thus far DNA computation events have typically taken place in a test tube, rather than in living cells.
NC State chemist Alex Deiters and graduate student James Hemphill wanted to see if a DNA-based logic gate could detect the presence of specific microRNAs in human cells. The researchers utilized a DNA-based logic gate known as an “AND” gate that was engineered to respond to the presence of two specific microRNAs – known as miRNA-21 and miRNA-122.
Just as computer operations utilize different inputs to create a particular output, the researchers’ DNA-based Boolean logic gate was activated only when both miRNA-21 and miRNA-122 “inputs” were present in cells. If they were present, the gate generated an “output” by releasing a fluorescent molecule.
Deiters believes that use of these logic gates could lead to more accurate tests and treatments for human disease, especially cancer.
“The fluorescent molecule we used in this logic-gate design could be useful as a marker that identifies a cancer cell,” he says. “Or, instead of directing the gate to release a fluorescent molecule in the presence of particular microRNAs, we could attach therapeutic agents that are released to treat the disease itself.”
Their results appear in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The research was funded in part by grants from the American Chemical Society and the American Cancer Society.
Note to editors: An abstract of the paper follows.
“DNA Computation in Mammalian Cells: microRNA Logic Operations”
Authors: James Hemphill and Alexander Deiters, North Carolina State University
Published: Journal of the American Chemical Society
DNA computation can utilize logic gates as modules to create molecular computers with biological inputs. Modular circuits that recognize nucleic acid inputs through strand hybridization activate computation cascades to produce controlled outputs. This allows for the construction of synthetic circuits that can be interfaced with cellular environments. We have engineered oligonucleotide AND gates to respond to specific microRNA (miRNA) inputs in live mammalian cells. Both single- and dual-sensing miRNA-based computation devices were synthesized for the cell-specific identification of endogenous miR-21 and miR-122. A logic gate response was observed with miRNA expression regulators, exhibiting molecular recognition of miRNA profile changes. Nucleic acid logic gates that are functional in a cellular environment and recognize endogenous inputs significantly expand the potential of DNA computation to monitor, image, and respond to cell-specific markers.
Tracey Peake | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...