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DNA is blueprint, contractor and construction worker for new structures
Date:1/30/2008

re not known, however, said Schatz, and determining how to combine nanoparticles into interesting structures is one of the big challenges of the field.

The Northwestern researchers started with gold nanoparticles (15 nanometers in diameter) and attached double-stranded DNA to each particle with one of the strands significantly longer than the other. The single-stranded portion of this DNA serves as the linker DNA, which seeks out a complementary single strand of DNA attached to another gold nanoparticle. The binding of the two single strands of linker DNA to each other completes the double helix, tightly binding the particles to each other.

Each gold nanoparticle has multiple strands of DNA attached to its surface so the nanoparticle is binding in many directions, resulting in a three-dimensional structure -- a crystal. One sequence of linker DNA, programmed by the researchers, results in one type of crystal structure while a different sequence of linker DNA results in a different structure.

We even found a case where the same linker could give different structures, depending on the temperatures at which the particles were mixed, said Schatz.

Using the extremely brilliant X-rays produced by the Advanced Photon Source synchrotron at Argonne National Laboratory in combination with computational simulations, the research team imaged the crystals to determine the exact location of the particles throughout the structure. The final crystals have approximately 1 million nanoparticles.

It took scientists decades of work to learn how to synthesize DNA, said Mirkin. Now weve learned how to use the synthesized form outside the body to arrange lifeless matter into things that are useful, which is really quite spectacular.


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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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