Contouring The Structure Of DNA With A Make-Up Brush

Using an ordinary make-up brush, researchers in Korea were able to produce a well-aligned DNA zigzag pattern.

AsianScientist (Jan. 18, 2017) – Researchers at KAIST have used an ordinary make-up brush to produce DNA in an orderly zigzag structure. Their findings have been published in Advanced Materials.

Existing methods for synthesizing DNA-based nanostructures typically require complex design processes and expensive DNA samples with known base sequences. Instead, Professor Dong Ki Yoon and PhD student Ms. Yun Jeong Cha have used low cost salmon DNA and a make-up brush bought from a cosmetics store to produce a nanostructure with a well-aligned zigzag pattern at one-thousandth of the usual cost.

Using the brush, the researchers applied the DNA onto a plate in one direction. As the thin and dense film of DNA came into contact with air, it lost moisture, creating an expansive force between the dried film and the plate. This force interacted with the elastic force of DNA and caused undulations in the aligned DNA molecules, which resulted in a regular zigzag pattern.

Unaligned DNA (left) and aligned DNA (right) after being brushed and dried. Credit: KAIST.

This kind of well-ordered DNA structure can be used as template to guide or control functional materials that are applied to its surface. For example, it can be used to align liquid crystals used in displays, or metallic particles and semi-conductors. In the future, brush-painted DNA could be used as a template for optoelectric devices as well.

“These findings have special implications, as they have demonstrated that various materials in nature aside from DNA—such as proteins, muscle cells, and components of bones—can be applied to optoelectric devices,” Yoon said.

Although the zigzag DNA’s base sequences could not be controlled because it was extracted from biological sources, it nonetheless provides a very regular and intricate structure, and has the advantage of being cheap and readily available without compromising its structural integrity.

The article can be found at: Yoon and Cha (2016) Control of Periodic Zigzag Structures of DNA by a Simple Shearing Method.


Source: KAIST.
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