Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

World's smallest wedding rings: Interlocking rings of DNA visible through scanning force microscope

Date:
April 12, 2011
Source:
Goethe University Frankfurt
Summary:
DNA nanotechnology makes use of the ability of natural DNA strains' capacity for self asssembly. Researchers in Germany were able to create two rings of DNA only 18 nanometers in size, and to interlock them like two links in a chain. One of the researchers, who got married during the time he was working on the nano-rings, believes that they are probably the world's smallest wedding rings.

The world's smallest wedding rings are built up by two interlocked DNA-strands.
Credit: Alexander Heckel

DNA nanotechnology makes use of the ability of natural DNA strains' capacity for self asssembly. Prof. Alexander Heckel and his doctoral student Thorsten Schmidt of Goethe University were able to create two rings of DNA only 18 nanometers in size, and to interlock them like two links in a chain. Such a structure is called catenan, a term derived from the Latin word catena (chain). Schmidt, who got married during the time he was working on the nano-rings, believes that they are probably the world's smallest wedding rings.

From a scientific perspective, the structure is a milestone in the field of DNA nanotechnology, since the two rings of the catenan are, as opposed to the majority of the DNA nano-architectures that have already been realized, not fixed formations, but -- depending on the environmental conditions -- freely pivotable. They are therefore suitable as components of molecular machines or of a molecular motor.

"We still have a long way to go before DNA structures such as the catenan can be used in everyday items," says Prof Alexander Heckel, "but structures of DNA can, in the near future, be used to arrange and study proteins or other molecules that are too small for a direct manipulation, by means of auto-organization." This way, DNA nano-architectures could become a versatile tool for the nanometer world, to which access is difficult.

In the manufacture of DNA nano-architecture, the scientists take advantage of the pairing rules of the four DNA nucleobases, according to which two natural DNA strands can also find each other (in DNA nano-architecture, the base order is without biological significance). An A on one strand pairs with T on the other strand and C is complementary to G. The trick is to create the sequences of the DNA strands involved in such a manner as to ensure that the desired structure builds up on its own without direct intervention on the experimenter's part. If only certain parts of the strands used complement each other, branches and junctions can be created.

As reported by Schmidt and Heckel in the journal Nano Letters, they first created two C-shaped DNA fragments for the catenans. With the help of special molecules that act as sequence-specific glue for the double helix, they arranged the "Cs" in such a ways as to create two junctions, with the open ends of the "Cs" pointing away from each other. The catenan was created by adding two strands that attach to the ends of the two ring fragments, which are still open. Thorsten Schmidt dedicated the publication to his wife Dr Diana Gonηalves Schmidt, who also appreciates the work on scientific level, since she was also a part of Alexander Heckel's work group.

Since they are much smaller than the wavelengths of visible light, the rings cannot be seen with a standard microscope. "You would have to string together about 4000 such rings to even achieve the diameter of a human hair," says Thorsten Schmidt. He therefore displays the catenans with a scanning force microscope, which scans the rings that have been placed on a surface with an extremely fine tip.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Goethe University Frankfurt. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Thorsten L. Schmidt, Alexander Heckel. Construction of a Structurally Defined Double-Stranded DNA Catenane. Nano Letters, 2011; 110316152409054 DOI: 10.1021/nl200303m

Cite This Page:

Goethe University Frankfurt. "World's smallest wedding rings: Interlocking rings of DNA visible through scanning force microscope." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110411131348.htm>.
Goethe University Frankfurt. (2011, April 12). World's smallest wedding rings: Interlocking rings of DNA visible through scanning force microscope. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110411131348.htm
Goethe University Frankfurt. "World's smallest wedding rings: Interlocking rings of DNA visible through scanning force microscope." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110411131348.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) — Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) — Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) — An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
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