Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Novel DNA barcode engineered: New technology could launch biomedical imaging to next level

Date:
September 24, 2012
Source:
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
Summary:
Researchers have created a new kind of barcode that could come in an almost limitless array of styles -- with the potential to enable scientists to gather vastly more vital information, at one given time, than ever before. The method harnesses the natural ability of DNA to self-assemble.

Researchers have created a new kind of barcode that uses DNA origami technology. Colored dots can be arranged into geometric patterns or fluorescent linear DNA barcodes, and the combinations are almost limitless -- substantially increasing the number of distinct molecules or cells scientists can observe in a sample.
Credit: Credit: Chenxiang Lin, Ralf Jungmann, Andrew M. Leifer, Chao Li, Daniel Levner, George M. Church, William M. Shih, Peng Yin, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Medical School

Much like the checkout clerk uses a machine that scans the barcodes on packages to identify what customers bought at the store, scientists use powerful microscopes and their own kinds of barcodes to help them identify various parts of a cell, or types of molecules at a disease site. But their barcodes only come in a handful of "styles," limiting the number of objects scientists can study in a cell sample at any one time.

Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have created a new kind of barcode that could come in an almost limitless array of styles -- with the potential to enable scientists to gather vastly more vital information, at one given time, than ever before. The method harnesses the natural ability of DNA to self-assemble, as reported September 24 in the online issue of Nature Chemistry.

"We hope this new method will provide much-needed molecular tools for using fluorescence microscopy to study complex biological problems," says Peng Yin, Wyss core faculty member and study co-author who has been instrumental in the DNA origami technology at the heart of the new method.

Fluorescence microscopy has been a tour de force in biomedical imaging for the last several decades. In short, scientists couple fluorescent elements -- the barcodes -- to molecules they know will attach to the part of the cells they wanted to investigate. Illuminating the sample triggers each kind of barcode to fluoresce at a particular wavelength of light, such as red, blue, or green -- indicating where the molecules of interest are.

However, the method is limited by the number of colors available -- three or four -- and sometimes the colors get blurry. That's where the magic of the DNA barcode comes in: colored-dots can be arranged into geometric patterns or fluorescent linear barcodes, and the combinations are almost limitless -- substantially increasing the number of distinct molecules or cells scientists can observe in a sample, and the colors are easy to distinguish.

Here's how it works: DNA origami follows the basic principles of the double helix in which the molecular bases A (adenosine) only bind to T (thymine), and C (cytosine) bases only bind to G (guanine). With those "givens" in place, a long strand of DNA is programmed to self-assemble by folding in on itself with the help of shorter strands to create predetermined forms--much like a single sheet of paper is folded to create a variety of designs in the traditional Japanese art.

To these more structurally complex DNA nano-structures, researchers can then attach fluorescent molecules to the desired spots, and use origami technology to generate a large pool of barcodes out of only a few fluorescent molecules. That could add a lot to the cellular imaging "toolbox" because it enables scientists to potentially light up more cellular structures than ever possible before.

"The intrinsic rigidity of the engineered DNA nanostructures is this method's greatest advantage; it holds the fluorescent pattern in place without the use of external forces. It also holds great promise for using the method to study cells in their native environments," Yin says. As proof of concept, the team demonstrated that one of their new barcodes successfully attached to the surface of a yeast cell.

More research beckons, particularly to determine what happens when each of the fluorescent barcodes are mixed together in a cell sample, which is routine in real-life biological and medical imaging systems--but there's plenty of good news as a starting point. It's low-cost, easy to do, and more robust compared to current methods, says Yin.

"We're moving fast in our ability to manipulate DNA molecules using origami technology," says Wyss Institute Founding Director Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., "and the landscape of its potential is tremendous -- from helping us to develop targeted drug-delivery mechanisms to improving the scope of cellular and molecular activities we are able to observe at a disease site using the latest medical imaging techniques."

The research team was led by three Wyss Founding Core Faculty members: Peng Yin, Ph.D., William Shih, Ph.D., and George Church, Ph.D. Yin is also an Assistant Professor of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School (HMS). Church is also Professor of Genetics at HMS and Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Shih is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at HMS and the Department of Cancer Biology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Other research contributors included Chenxiang Lin, Ph.D., now Assistant Professor of Cell Biology at Yale School of Medicine; Wyss Institute Postdoctoral Scholar Ralf Jungmann, Ph.D.; Wyss Staff Scientist Chao Li, Ph.D.; Wyss Senior Staff Scientist Daniel Levner, Ph.D.; and Andrew Leifer, Ph.D., formerly at Harvard University, who is now a Lewis-Sigler Fellow at Princeton University.

The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the Wyss Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chenxiang Lin, Ralf Jungmann, Andrew M. Leifer, Chao Li, Daniel Levner, George M. Church, William M. Shih, Peng Yin. Submicrometre geometrically encoded fluorescent barcodes self-assembled from DNA. Nature Chemistry, 2012; 4 (10): 832 DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1451

Cite This Page:

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. "Novel DNA barcode engineered: New technology could launch biomedical imaging to next level." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924102458.htm>.
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. (2012, September 24). Novel DNA barcode engineered: New technology could launch biomedical imaging to next level. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924102458.htm
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. "Novel DNA barcode engineered: New technology could launch biomedical imaging to next level." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924102458.htm (accessed September 29, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, September 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) More and more studies are showing positive benefits to playing video games, but the jury is still out on brain training programs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CERN Celebrates 60 Years of Science

CERN Celebrates 60 Years of Science

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 29, 2014) CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, celebrates 60 years of bringing nations together through science. As Joanna Partridge reports from inside the famous science centre it's also planning to turn the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator back on after an upgrade. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
This 'Invisibility Cloak' Is Simpler Than Most

This 'Invisibility Cloak' Is Simpler Than Most

Newsy (Sep. 28, 2014) Researchers from the University of Rochester have created a type of invisibility cloak with simple focal lenses. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Corvette Can Secretly Record Convos And Get You Arrested

New Corvette Can Secretly Record Convos And Get You Arrested

Newsy (Sep. 28, 2014) The 2015 Corvette features valet mode – which allows the owner to secretly record audio and video – but in many states that practice is illegal. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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