From Next Big Future:
Automating DNA origami makes it easy to build DNA nanoparticles
Researchers can build complex, nanometer-scale structures of almost any shape and form, using strands of DNA. But these particles must be designed by hand, in a complex and laborious process.
This has limited the technique, known as DNA origami, to just a small group of experts in the field.
Now a team of researchers at MIT and elsewhere has developed an algorithm that can build these DNA nanoparticles automatically.
A novel synthesis approach could allow the DNA origami technique to be used to develop nanoparticles for a much broader range of applications, including scaffolds for vaccines, carriers for gene editing tools, and in archival memory storage.
Unlike traditional DNA origami, in which the structure is built up manually by hand, the algorithm starts with a simple, 3-D geometric representation of the final shape of the object, and then decides how it should be assembled from DNA, according to Mark Bathe, an associate professor of biological engineering at MIT, who led the research.
“The paper turns the problem around from one in which an expert designs the DNA needed to synthesize the object, to one in which the object itself is the starting point, with the DNA sequences that are needed automatically defined by the algorithm,” Bathe says. “Our hope is that this automation significantly broadens participation of others in the use of this powerful molecular design paradigm.”
The algorithm first represents the object as a perfectly smooth, continuous outline of its surface. It then breaks the surface up into a series of polygonal shapes.
Next, it routes a long, single strand of DNA, called the scaffold, which acts like a piece of thread, throughout the entire structure to hold it together....MORE