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'DNA bunny' structures create using DNA origami program. Credit: Erik Benson and Bjorn Hogberg

New ‘DNA origami’ program allows researchers to make precise DNA shapes

Scientists have developed a technique that allows them to create organized structures of DNA. The technique has been called ‘DNA origami because of the way researchers can now fold DNA into precise structures.

The premise behind this study is to optimize the route DNA takes to make a structure. This is done by creating a shape that not only maintains its resilience and strength but also returns to its starting point. Most DNA structures made to date are compact and brick like, which aren’t very efficient. These new shapes would allow synthesis of structures much quicker.

The shapes are created by 3D printing software. The desired shape is rendered on the software and the program developed will automatically derive the best possible path the DNA can take, one that minimizes the doubling over of DNA stand. This is important because when DNA doubles over, detail is lost.

“We wanted to put the DNA strand on every edge of the polygonal shape once and if possible only once and then bring it back to its starting point, since it’s a circular molecule,” says Bjorn Hogberg, who participated in the study.

To showcase the new technique, the team created several DNA structures including the ‘DNA bunnies’ pictured above. Some of the other structure they made or of humanoid figures and soda bottles. Of course these structures wouldn’t likely carry any biological significance but they did this as a demonstration.

The new technology could have huge implications in biological research. The group is now experimenting with attaching other biomolecules to the structures they create. These compound structures can be used for several uses and potentially in cancer research. Certain DNA structures could potentially be used to bind to cancerous cells and prevent their division but this is still far in the future. Nevertheless this new technology will prove vital in coming years in biological research.

 

About Harry H

Harry H

Harry is currently studying biology and chemistry in University and hopes to go to grad school for evolutionary biology. He enjoys writing about sciences and sports and is a big fan of hockey and soccer. Some of his other interests are reading and rock climbing.
Contact Harry: harry.h@youthindependent.com