University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > MRC LMB Seminar list > Delivery Boy to Reporter: Unusual DNA’s journey through a worm-whole

Delivery Boy to Reporter: Unusual DNA’s journey through a worm-whole

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Due to its nanoscale dimensions and ability to self-assemble via specific base pairing, DNA is rapidly taking on a new aspect where it is finding use as a construction element for architecture on the nanoscale.1 By and large, structural DNA nanotechnology has relied on Watson-Crick base pairing to build architectures of exquisite complexity. We have been interested in developing non-Watson-Crick based building blocks to make architecturally simple yet functional DNA -based molecular devices. Using two examples, one of a rigid, DNA polyhedron and the other a dynamic, DNA assembly that acts as a molecular switch I will illustrate the potential of DNA based molecular devices as unique tools with which to interrogate living systems. We show that DNA polyhedra can entrap from molecular cargo from solution2 and that such loaded DNA icosahedra can cell-specifically deliver encapsulated molecular cargo inside C. elegans by targeting cell-surface receptors.3 In the second example, we use a four-stranded DNA motif called the i-tetraplex to build a pH-triggered conformational switch.4 We now show that this DNA nanomachine recapitulates its function qualitatively and quantitatively mapping pH gradients in real-time in-cellulo and within whole living organisms.

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