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Mimicking biological ion channels using DNA origami

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Membrane proteins control transport in and out of biological cells and can be extremely complex. At the same time, these protein channels are notoriously difficult to understand due to the often missing knowledge of their three-dimensional structure. Inspired by Feynman’s famous quote:”What I cannot create, I do not understand”, my group is developing artificial protein channels that are designed entirely from DNA by harnessing Watson-Crick base pairing and self-assembly. In combination with controlled chemical modifications we built functional DNA structures that induce ionic current flows through lipid membranes. These so-called “DNA origami nanopores” exhibit ion channel-like characteristics including voltage gating and ion selectivity. I will introduce the DNA origami technique, explain why DNA self-assembly offers a straightforward pathway to design functional elements mimicking membrane proteins, and briefly highlight some exciting applications in nanomedicine.

This talk is part of the Caius MCR/SCR research talks series.

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