Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute Engineer Novel DNA Barcode

Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have created a new kind of barcode that could come in an almost limitless array of styles.

Much like the checkout clerk uses a machine that scans the barcodes on packages to identify what customers bought at the store, scientists use powerful microscopes and their own kinds of barcodes to help them identify various parts of a cell, or types of molecules at a disease site. But their barcodes only come in a handful of "styles," limiting the number of objects scientists can study in a cell sample at any one time.

Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have created a new kind of barcode that could come in an almost limitless array of styles -- with the potential to enable scientists to gather vastly more vital information, at one given time, than ever before. The method harnesses the natural ability of DNA to self-assemble, as reported today in the online issue of Nature Chemistry.

"We hope this new method will provide much-needed molecular tools for using fluorescence microscopy to study complex biological problems," says Peng Yin, Wyss core faculty member and study co-author who has been instrumental in the DNA origami technology at the heart of the new method.

Fluorescence microscopy has been a tour de force in biomedical imaging for the last several decades. In short, scientists couple fluorescent elements -- the barcodes -- to molecules they know will attach to the part of the cells they wanted to investigate. Illuminating the sample triggers each kind of barcode to fluoresce at a particular wavelength of light, such as red, blue, or green -- indicating where the molecules of interest are.

However, the method is limited by the number of colors available -- three or four -- and sometimes the colors get blurry. That's where the magic of the DNA barcode comes in: colored-dots can be arranged into geometric patterns or fluorescent linear barcodes, and the combinations are almost limitless -- substantially increasing the number of distinct molecules or cells scientists can observe in a sample, and the colors are easy to distinguish.

Here's how it works: DNA origami follows the basic principles of the double helix in which the molecular bases A (adenosine) only bind to T (thymine), and C (cytosine) bases only bind to G (guanine). With those "givens" in place, a long strand of DNA is programmed to self-assemble by folding in on itself with the help of shorter strands to create predetermined forms--much like a single sheet of paper is folded to create a variety of designs in the traditional Japanese art.

To these more structurally complex DNA nano-structures, researchers can then attach fluorescent molecules to the desired spots, and use origami technology to generate a large pool of barcodes out of only a few fluorescent molecules. That could add a lot to the cellular imaging "toolbox" because it enables scientists to potentially light up more cellular structures than ever possible before.

"The intrinsic rigidity of the engineered DNA nanostructures is this method's greatest advantage; it holds the fluorescent pattern in place without the use of external forces. It also holds great promise for using the method to study cells in their native environments," Yin says. As proof of concept, the team demonstrated that one of their new barcodes successfully attached to the surface of a yeast cell.

More research beckons, particularly to determine what happens when each of the fluorescent barcodes are mixed together in a cell sample, which is routine in real-life biological and medical imaging systems--but there's plenty of good news as a starting point. It's low-cost, easy to do, and more robust compared to current methods, says Yin.

"We're moving fast in our ability to manipulate DNA molecules using origami technology," says Wyss Institute Founding Director Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., "and the landscape of its potential is tremendous -- from helping us to develop targeted drug-delivery mechanisms to improving the scope of cellular and molecular activities we are able to observe at a disease site using the latest medical imaging techniques."


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Expanding the Brain
A team of researchers has identified more than 40 new “imprinted” genes, in which either the maternal or paternal copy of a gene is expressed while the other is silenced.
Friday, July 31, 2015
Beyond Average
Researchers have created new platforms to genetically barcode tens of thousands of cells at a time allowing unprecedented detail to be uncovered when studying whole tissue samples.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
One Molecule at a Time
The ability to study single molecules provides tangible targets for personalised medicine.
Monday, May 18, 2015
Diabetes’ Genetic Variety
Researchers find nine variants that can greatly increase risk from disease.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Cancer Vaccine Begins Phase I Clinical Trials
Cross-disciplinary team brings novel therapeutic cancer vaccine to human clinical trials.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
A Marker for Breast Cancer
Research says it soon may be possible to gauge individual risk for disease, and eventually to treat it.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Controlling Genes with Light
New technique can rapidly turn genes on and off, helping scientists better understand their function.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Developing Cancer Drugs
Researchers find therapeutic potential in ‘undruggable’ target.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Coelacanth Genome Similar to that of Fossils
Unexpected insights from a fish with a 300-million-year-old fossil record.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
One Cell is All You Need
Innovative technique can sequence entire genome from single cell.
Monday, January 07, 2013
Building with DNA Bricks
Harvard’s Wyss Institute creates versatile 3-D nanostructures.
Friday, November 30, 2012
Research on Butterflies Reveals Genetic Sharing
Landmark effort to sequence the genome of a South American butterfly has revealed the key behind its ability to mimic other butterflies.
Monday, May 21, 2012
HC-LITT to Provide Stabilization Technology to the Harvard Research Community
Harvard research community will have access to the Denator’s Stabilizor™ system for stabilizing biological samples.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Harvard University and Oxford Nanopore Technologies Announce Licence Agreement
The agreement aims to progress nanopore science by integrating Harvard discoveries with technology in development at Oxford Nanopore.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Molecule by Molecule, Assay Shows Real-time Gene Activity
The technique could provide Researchers with unprecedented insights into gene expression in living cells.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Scientific News
Long Telomeres Associated with Increased Lung Cancer Risk
Genetic predisposition for long telomeres predicts increased lung adenocarcinoma risk.
Expanding the Brain
A team of researchers has identified more than 40 new “imprinted” genes, in which either the maternal or paternal copy of a gene is expressed while the other is silenced.
Identifying a Key Growth Factor in Cell Proliferation
Researchers discover that aspartate is a limiter of cell proliferation.
Study Uncovers Target for Preventing Huntington’s Disease
Scientists from Cardiff University believe that a treatment to prevent or delay the symptoms of Huntington’s disease could now be much closer, following a major breakthrough.
The Genetic Roots of Adolescent Scoliosis
Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences in collaboration with Keio University in Japan have discovered a gene that is linked to susceptibility of Scoliosis.
A Gene-Sequence Swap Using CRISPR to Cure Haemophilia
For the first time chromosomal defects responsible for hemophilia have been corrected in patient-specific iPSCs using CRISPR-Cas9 nucleases
New Tool Uses 'Drug Spillover' to Match Cancer Patients with Treatments
Researchers have developed a new tool that improves the ability to match drugs to disease: the Kinase Addiction Ranker (KAR) predicts what genetics are truly driving the cancer in any population of cells and chooses the best "kinase inhibitor" to silence these dangerous genetic causes of disease.
Understanding the Molecular Origin of Epigenetic Markers
Researchers at IRB Barcelona discover the molecular mechanism that determines how epigenetic markers influence gene expression.
New Tech Enables Epigenomic Analysis with a Mere 100 Cells
A new technology that will dramatically enhance investigations of epigenomes, the machinery that turns on and off genes and a very prominent field of study in diseases such as stem cell differentiation, inflammation and cancer has been developed by researchers at Virginia Tech.
Access Denied: Leukemia Thwarted by Cutting Off Link to Environmental Support
A new study reveals a protein’s critical – and previously unknown -- role in the development and progression of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a fast-growing and extremely difficult-to-treat blood cancer.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!