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Chapter: Biotechnology Applying the Genetic Revolution: Nanobiotechnology

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DNA Mechanical Nanodevices

A rather more futuristic use for 3-D DNA structures is as frameworks for mechanical nanodevices. The essential components are some sort of moving parts.

DNA MECHANICAL NANODEVICES


A rather more futuristic use for 3-D DNA structures is as frameworks for mechanical nanodevices. The essential components are some sort of moving parts. Several experimental prototype “DNA machines” have been designed or constructed that illustrate the concept. These all involve reversible changes in conformation of a DNA structure driven by changes in base-pairing. Such changes may be caused either by changing the physical conditions (heat, salt, etc.) or by adding segments of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) that base-pair to some region of the DNA machine, as illustrated in Fig. 7.18. If ssDNA is used, then another single strand, complementary to the first, is added to convert the machine back to its original conformation. The result is a mechanical cycle that could in principle be used to perform some sort of task. The two ssDNA molecules may be regarded as “fuel,” and the final waste product is a double-stranded DNA consisting of the two paired ssDNA fuel elements. (Note that this scheme does not involve breaking covalent chemical bonds. It is thus not an enzymatic reaction and is distinct from the use of DNA as a deoxyribozyme as described)



 

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