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Penn researcher shows that DNA gets kinky easily at the nanoscale

copy to obtain a direct measurement of the energy it would take to bend lengths of DNA just a few nanometers long. The technique involves dragging an extremely sharp tip across the contours of the molecule in order to create a picture of its structure.

With this tool, Nelson and his colleagues measured the energies required to make various bends in DNA at lengths of five to 50 nanometers --- about a thousand times smaller than the diameter of a typical human cell.

''We found that DNA has different apparent properties when probed at short lengths than the entire molecule does when taken as a whole," Nelson said. ''Its resistance to large-angle bends at this scale is much smaller than previously suspected."

Nelson is also a member of Penn's Nano--Bio Interface Center, which explores how the fields of nanotechnology, biology and medicine all intersect.

"The nanoscale just happens to also be the scale at which cell biology operates," Nelson said. "We're entering an era when we are able to use the tools of nanotechnology to answer fundamental puzzles of biology."


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Source:University of Pennsylvania


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