DNA Origami: The Art of Folding DNA

DNA origami is a field you’ve probably never heard of, but ask a biologist, and they will probably be able to tell you their favorite artist. A new study has just confirmed that biotechnologists are now able to fold up DNA into various shapes and forms in a matter of mere minutes.

Biotechnologists use short DNA strands to hold a longer, folded strand in place to create different forms like the smiley faces pictured above.  Hendrik Dietz, a biophysicist at the Technical University of Munich in Germany, and his colleagues have folded 19 different DNA shapes, including cylindrical, brick-like and cog-like objects. The DNA takes on its new shape in a matter of minutes by heating the strands to a very specific point somewhere in the range of 45 °C and 60 °C.  Each particular temperature in this range corresponds to a specific shape.

Dietz and his team observed repeatable results with yields that approached 100%.

For future origami projects, Dietz wants to focus on designing nanostructures.

With optimal folding temperatures close to 37 °C, the temperature at which mammalian cell cultures are grown, so that DNA machines could one day be used in biological settings…The results point to similarities with protein folding in spite of chemical and structural differences. The possibility for rapid and high-yield assembly will enable DNA nanotechnology for practical applications.

The art of tomorrow can’t even be seen with the naked eye, which is, in my opinion, preferable to seeing a few lines and a rectangle being sold for millions of dollars. Seems to be the trend nowadays.





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