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article imageLargest 3-D DNA structure produced

By Tim Sandle     Sep 20, 2014 in Science
Scientists have created the largest 3-D DNA structure to date. This new model many times bigger than previously constructed origami shapes.
A few years ago, Paul Rothemund of the research center Caltech, devised a method dubbed DNA origami. This was used to create models of DNA. The method was of great importance and the technique is today being used to develop drug-delivery systems and other molecular machines. These are important processes in the creation of new medicines.
One draw back with the technology is the size of DNA model that can be generated. The technique was limited to around 7 kilobases. A kilobase is a unit of measurement in molecular biology equal to 1000 base pairs of DNA. Base pairs are the building blocks of the DNA double helix and contribute to the folded structure of both DNA and RNA.
In a new development, reported by Chemical & Engineering News, Thomas LaBean of North Carolina State University and colleagues have devised a new technique: using a hybrid virus for DNA production, the researchers can generate scaffolds of up to 51 kilobases.
One of the researchers, Alexandria March, said in a research note: "We had to do two things to make this viable. First we had to develop a custom scaffold strand that contained 51 kilobases. Second, in order to make this economically feasible, we had to find a cost-effective way of synthesizing staple strands—because we went from needing 220 staple strands to needing more than 1,600."
Potentially the new structure will enable more sophisticated drug development to take place.
The new technique has been described in the journal Nano Letters. The paper is titled "Toward Larger DNA Origami."
More about Dna, 3d, structure, Origami
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