Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

X-ray Laser Explores New Uses for DNA Building Blocks

Published: Monday, March 18, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, March 18, 2013
Bookmark and Share
The founding father of DNA nanotechnology – a field that forges tiny geometric building blocks from DNA strands – recently came to SLAC to get a new view of these creations using powerful X-ray laser pulses.

For decades, Nadrian C. "Ned" Seeman, a chemistry professor at New York University, has studied ways to assemble DNA strands into geometric shapes and 3-D crystals with applications in biology, biocomputing and nanorobotics.

He said the experiment conducted Feb. 7-11 at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source enabled his team for the first time to study the DNA structures using smaller crystals in solution at room temperature.

They want to find out whether they can analyze the structure of their samples more precisely in this natural state, as their previous work relied on larger, frozen samples and the freezing process can damage the DNA structures.

"I think we'll get some pretty exciting results," Seeman said during the last shift of the team's LCLS experiment. "I'm very excited by everything I have seen so far."

The DNA crystals were suspended in fluid and streamed across the path of the ultrabright, ultrashort LCLS X-ray laser pulses. Detectors captured images, known as diffraction patterns, produced as the X-ray light struck the crystals. The technique is known as X-ray nanocrystallography.

SLAC’s Sebastien Boutet, an instrument scientist at the LCLS Coherent X-ray Imaging Department, said the DNA crystals used in the experiment measured up to about 2-5 microns, or 2-5 thousandths of a millimeter, in size. The crystals were largely triangular and were self-assembled from 3-D DNA objects, forming an ordered lattice. The first-of-its-kind experiment at LCLS involved "lots of trial and error to find the ideal way to prepare the samples," Boutet said.

The engineered structures exploit the natural chemical pairing of DNA to bond small strands of DNA together. The resulting structures can be used to build tiny mechanical boxes and programmable robots for targeting disease, for example.

Researchers can also use DNA engineering as a platform for studying other molecules, such as proteins, that are important to disease research and drug development but are difficult to crystallize, which makes them hard to visualize.

When these proteins are attached to a DNA scaffolding, like salt coating a pretzel, the patterns they form can help scientists analyze their structure.

"The goal, ultimately, is to be able to use this lattice as a crystallization vehicle for things that may not so readily crystallize," Seeman said, "and also for controlling matter, in general, on the nanometer scale."

The ability to form a lattice out of DNA strands, coupled with the fundamental role DNA plays as a biological data storage medium, has also spawned research in DNA-based computing, in which DNA's chemistry and structure are manipulated to store data and carry out computing tasks, performing the functions of magnetic hard drives and silicon chips.

"The key point of DNA is it's got information – it's programmable," Seeman said.

Seeman's research team has previously used synchrotron facilities at Argonne and Brookhaven national laboratories for experiments. He learned about the capabilities at LCLS from Hao Yan, a former student, now at Arizona State University, who has participated in nanocrystallography experiments at LCLS.


Further Information

Join For Free

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 3,900+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 5,300+ 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

Snapshots of Chemical Flipping a Biological Switch
X-ray laser gets first real-time snapshots of a chemical flipping a biological switch, opening new path to understanding how RNA works.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Key to Natural Detoxifier’s Reactivity Discovered
Results have implications for health, drug design and chemical synthesis.
Friday, October 09, 2015
X-rays Used to Examine How DNA Protects Itself from UV Light
Scientists have made detailed observations of a “relaxation response” that protects these molecules, and the genetic information they encode, from UV damage.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Scientists Prove X-ray Laser Can Solve Protein Structures from Scratch
Study shows for the first time that X-ray lasers can be used to generate a complete 3-D model of a protein without any prior knowledge of its structure.
Friday, November 29, 2013
Scientific News
Big Genetics in BC: The American Society for Human Genetics 2016 Meeting
Themes at this year's meeting ranged from the verification, validation, and sharing of data, to the translation of laboratory findings into actionable clinical results.
Stem Cells in Drug Discovery
Potential Source of Unlimited Human Test Cells, but Roadblocks Remain.
Cancer Genetics: Key to Diagnosis, Therapy
When applied judiciously, cancer genetics directs caregivers to the right drug at the right time, while sparing patients of unnecessary or harmful treatments.
BGI Sequences Gingko Tree, Revealing Large, Highly Repetitive Genome
Researchers at BGI have sequenced the more than 10-gigabase ginkgo genome to find a high number of repetitive sequences as well as a number of gene clusters that appear to be involved in defense mechanisms.
Survey of New York City Soil Uncovers Medicine-Making Microbes
Microbes have long been an invaluable source of new drugs. And to find more, we may have to look no further than the ground beneath our feet.
Accelerating the Detection of Foodborne Bacterial Outbreaks
The speed of diagnosis of foodborne bacterial outbreaks could be improved by a new technique developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Making Personalized Medicine a Reality
Groundbreaking technique developed at McMaster University is helping to pave the way for advances in personalized medicine.
Scientists Identify Unique Genomic Features in Testicular Cancer
The findings may shed light on factors in other cancers that influence their sensitivity to chemotherapy.
Top 10 Life Science Innovations of 2016
2016 has seen the release of some truly innovative products. To help you digest these developments, The Scientist have listed their top picks for the year.
BioCision Forms MedCision
The new company will focus on technologies for the management and automation of vital clinical processes.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
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
3,900+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,300+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!