Making the octahedron from a single strand was a breakthrough. Because of this, the structure can be amplified with the standard tools of molecular biology and can easily be cloned, replicated, amplified, evolved, and adapted for various applications. This process also has the potential to be scaled up so that large amounts of uniform DNA nanomaterials can be produced. These octahedra are potential building blocks for future projects, from new tools for basic biomedical science to the tiny computers of tomorrow.
"Now we have biological control, and not just synthetic chemical control, over the production of rigid, wireframe DNA objects," says Research Associate William Shih, Ph.D., of Scripps Research.
Shih led the research, described in the latest issue of the journal Nature, with Professor Gerald Joyce, M.D., Ph.D., of the Department of Molecular Biology and The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research.
Compartments and Scaffolds on the Nano-Scale
Similar to a piece of paper folded into an origami box, the strand of DNA that Shih and Joyce designed folds into a compact octahedron -- a structure consisting of twelve edges, six vertices, and eight triangular faces. The structure is about 22 nanometers in overall diameter.
These miniscule octahedral structures are the culmination of a design process that started one day when Shih was building a number of shapes with flexible ball and stick models in the laboratory. This exercise attracted his attention to an important structural principle: frames built with triangular
Contact: Keith McKeown
Scripps Research Institute