Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UCSB Scientists Build Nanoscale 'Jigsaw' Puzzles Made Of RNA

Date:
December 31, 2004
Source:
University Of California, Santa Barbara
Summary:
Scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, working at the leading edge of bionanotechnology, are using assembly and folding principles of natural RNA, or ribonucleic acid, to build beautiful and potentially useful artificial structures at the nano-scale. Possible applications include the development of nanocircuits, medical implants, and improved medical testing.

The nine different RNA fabrics that were generated by tectosquares self-assembly.
Credit: Image courtesy of University Of California, Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, Calif.) – Scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, working at the leading edge of bionanotechnology, are using assembly and folding principles of natural RNA, or ribonucleic acid, to build beautiful and potentially useful artificial structures at the nano-scale. Possible applications include the development of nanocircuits, medical implants, and improved medical testing.

This research, published in the December 17 issue of the journal Science, is led by Luc Jaeger, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCSB and a member of UCSB's Biomolecular Science and Engineering Program, and by Arkadiusz Chworos, a post-doctoral fellow studying in Jaeger's lab.

"In our lab, we see ourselves as nano-architects" said Jaeger. "We are using the lessons that nature teaches us about RNA assembly and folding principles to create nano-scale buildings made of 'smart' molecular 'Lego-like' bricks." This concept, called RNA tectonics, led to the synthesis of RNA grids with finite size and various patterns. Using atomic force microscopy, the UCSB team has been able to visualize some of their assemblies made of square-shaped RNA units that form beautiful patterns and nano-grids.

One of the aims of Jaeger's group is to address one of the great challenges in supra-molecular chemistry: to attain total control of the arrangement of matter at a molecular level. The artificial RNA molecular system is based on 'smart' RNA pieces, which could self-assemble in a predictable manner into any possible two-dimensional architecture with full control over size, shape and pattern geometry, according to the scientists.

Thus, the final position of each piece can eventually be located within a network lattice of finite size. In the human-scale world, a good parallel would be a jigsaw puzzle game of different pieces for which all the pieces can precisely self-assemble without direct human intervention.

"This task may seem daunting for us, but it is not for nature," explained Jaeger. Nature takes advantage of these properties for the assembly of thousands of molecules in living organisms. Out of the three major biopolymers, RNA is thought to be the most ancient one on which life is based. RNA is different from DNA in both the stability of Watson-Crick base pairing and in that it is designed to function as a single-stranded molecule. In this way, RNA has some of the nature and functionality of self-assembled proteins.

DNA has been extensively used to generate artificial geometrical objects. Although more chemically labile than DNA, RNA is now gaining attention for its potential in building molecular components with high precision. The ability of RNA to fold into a richer treasure trove of rigid structural motifs, that can be potential modules for supramolecular engineering, is particularly attractive to scientists.

Chworos, the first author of the paper, explained that aperiodic nano-grids may eventually be used as a starting point to generate nanochips, nanocircuits and nanocrystals with potential applications in nanotechnology and materials science. For example, RNA-based materials could offer the unique possibility to act as scaffoldings for precisely aligning quantum dots or organic polymers.

Helen Hansma, co-author and adjunct associate professor of physics at UCSB, said that this advance in the basic science could eventually lead to the use of RNA supra-molecular assembly in medical applications and could be used to to help heal or regenerate bone or other body parts. She also suggested the possibility of miniaturizing some medical tests, allowing the tests to take up less space and use fewer chemicals.

"Like DNA, RNA is now entering into the realm of nano-materials but many technical challenges await us in the development of these applications," said Jaeger. "Our next immediate task is to develop 'smart' RNA pieces that will assemble into responsive, self-assembling, three-dimensional materials."

This research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Materials Research Laboratory at USCB.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California, Santa Barbara. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California, Santa Barbara. "UCSB Scientists Build Nanoscale 'Jigsaw' Puzzles Made Of RNA." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 December 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041219210914.htm>.
University Of California, Santa Barbara. (2004, December 31). UCSB Scientists Build Nanoscale 'Jigsaw' Puzzles Made Of RNA. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041219210914.htm
University Of California, Santa Barbara. "UCSB Scientists Build Nanoscale 'Jigsaw' Puzzles Made Of RNA." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041219210914.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins