CINCINNATIUsing an RNA-powered nanomotor, University of Cincinnati (UC) biomedical engineering researchers have successfully developed an artificial pore able to transmit nanoscale material through a membrane.
In a study led by UC biomedical engineering professor Peixuan Guo, PhD, members of the UC team inserted the modified core of a nanomotor, a microscopic biological machine, into a lipid membrane. The resulting channel enabled them to move both single- and double-stranded DNA through the membrane.
Their paper, "Translocation of double-stranded DNA through membrane-adapted phi29 motor protein nanopores," will appear in online publication of the journal Nature Nanotechnology, Sept. 27, 2009. The engineered channel could have applications in nano-sensing, gene delivery, drug loading and DNA sequencing, says Guo.
Guo derived the nanomotor used in the study from the biological motor of bacteriophage phi29, a virus that infects bacteria. Previously, Guo discovered that the bacteriophage phi29 DNA-packaging motor uses six molecules of the genetic material RNA to power its DNA genome through its protein core, much like a screw through a bolt.
"The re-engineered motor core itself has shown to associate with lipid membranes, but we needed to show that it could punch a hole in the lipid membrane," says David Wendell, PhD, co-first author of the paper and a research assistant professor in UC's biomedical engineering department. "That was one of the first challenges, moving it from its native enclosure into this engineered environment."
In this study, UC researchers embedded the re-engineered nanomotor core into a lipid sheet, creating a channel large enough to allow the passage of double-stranded DNA through the channel.
Guo says past work with biological channels has been focused on channels large enough to move only single-stranded genetic material.
"Since the genomic DNA of human, animals, plants
|Contact: Katy Cosse|
University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center