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Wyss Institute Launches "Molecular Origami" Interactive Feature
Date:1/28/2010

ute, led by Core Faculty members, William Shih and Peng Yin, have extended this work toward building complex, three-dimensional structures out of DNA. This work could lead to breakthroughs in manufacturing and medicine. For example, these incredibly tiny forms could be used as cogs in a machine for molecular manufacturing, optical reporters for bioimaging, or carriers for delivery of cancer drugs deep inside the body.

With DNA origami, researchers take a long, single strand of DNA (called a scaffold) and fold it into a structure of their own design. These designs are held together with short "staple" strands, which are also made of DNA. Each staple is coded with two specific sequences: one is the complement to a specific site on the scaffold; the other is the complement to a second location on the same scaffold. When the scaffold and staples are allowed to "self-assemble," the attachment of the staple strands causes the scaffold to bend and fold into the desired structure. In principle, the same approach could be used with RNA or any other informational molecule where complementary sequences can be engineered.

This interactive feature, created by the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, is designed to illustrate the basics of molecular folding in a fun way. So drag and drop the pairs of staples and see how the altering sequences you select can produce virtually any shape you desire, as well as forms that might surprise you.

http://wyss.harvard.edu/viewpage/m-o/interactive-feature-molecular-origami

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