Chemists use DNA to build the world’s smallest antenna

Like a two-way radio that can receive and send radio waves, the fluorescent nanoantina designed by Alexis Vallée-Bélisle and his team receives light of one color and depending on the movement of the protein it senses, then transmits the light back in another color, which we can detect. One of the main innovations of these nanonanites is that the receptor portion of the antenna (bright green) is also used to sense the molecular surface of the studied protein via molecular interaction. Credit: Caitlin Money

Researchers at the University of Montreal have created a nano-device to monitor the movements of proteins. I mentioned this week in Nature’s WaysThe device is a new way to monitor the structural change of proteins over time — and could go a long way to helping scientists better understand natural and human-designed nanotechnologies.

“The results are so exciting that we are currently working on creating a startup to commercialize and make these nanonanites available to most researchers and the pharmaceutical industry,” said UdeM Professor of Chemistry Alexis Vallée-Bélisle, senior author of the study.

Bi-directional radio antenna

More than 40 years ago, researchers invented the first DNA synthesizer to create molecules encoding genetic information. “In recent years, chemists have realized that DNA can also be used to build a variety of nanostructures and nanomachines,” added the researcher, who also holds the Canada Research Chair in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.

“Inspired by the Lego-like properties of DNA, with building blocks that are typically 20,000 times smaller than a human hair, we created a fluorescent DNA-based nanoantina, which can help characterize the function of proteins,” he said.

“Like a two-way radio that can receive and transmit radio waves, a nanoscale fluorescent receives light of one color, or a wavelength, and depending on the movement of the protein it senses, then transmits the light back in another color, which we can detect.”

One of the main innovations of these nanoparticles is that the receiving part of the antenna is also used to sense the molecular surface of the studied protein via molecular interaction.

One of the main advantages of using DNA to engineer these nanonanites is that DNA chemistry is relatively simple and programmable, said Scott Aaron, a UdeM doctoral student in chemistry and first author of the study.

“DNA-based nanonanites can be manufactured with different lengths and flexibility to improve their function,” he said. “One can easily attach a fluorescent molecule to DNA, and then attach these fluorescent nanonanites to a biological nanomachine, such as an enzyme.

“By carefully tuning the nanoantenna’s design, we created a five-nanometer antenna that produces a distinct signal when the protein performs its biological function.”

Scientists believe that fluorescent nanoparticles open up many exciting avenues in biochemistry and nanotechnology.

“For example, we have been able to discover the function of alkaline phosphatase in real time for the first time with a variety of biological molecules and drugs,” Aaron said. “This enzyme has a role in many diseases, including various cancers and intestinal infections.

Dominic Luzon, co-author of the study, added with Ph.D. in Chemistry at UdeM.

The scientists said that one of the key advances these Nanantinas enabled was their ease of use as well.

“Perhaps we are most excited about the realization that many laboratories around the world, equipped with a conventional spectrometer, can easily use these nanonanites to study their preferred protein, such as identifying new drugs or developing new nanotechnologies,” Valley said. -Bellis.

New thermoelectric nanoantenna design for use in solar energy harvesting

more information:
Scott J. Aaron et al., Monitoring changes in protein composition using fluorescent Nanantinas, Nature’s Ways (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41592-021-01355-5

Presented by the University of Montreal

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