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Scientists Build Nano Antenna From DNA, Smallest Ever

 


Scientists succeeded in making the smallest antenna ever with a size of 5 nanometers (nm) or the equivalent of 0.0000005 cm. The nanoantenna is made from DNA, a molecule that carries genetic information and is 20,000 times smaller than a human hair.

DNA also glows, which means it uses light signals to record and report back information. These light signals can be used to study the movement and changes of proteins in real-time.


As quoted from Science Alert, innovation with this special antenna will produce a different signal when the protein fulfills its biological function.



"Like a two-way radio that can receive and transmit radio waves, fluorescent nanoantennas receive light in one color, or wavelength, and depending on the motion of the protein it senses, then emit light back in another color, which we can detect," said the chemist. Alexis Vallée-Bélisle of the Université de Montréal (UdeM) in Canada.


In particular, the antenna's job is to measure the structural changes of a protein over time. Proteins are large, complex molecules that perform all kinds of important tasks in the body, from supporting the immune system to regulating organ function.



However, when proteins rush to do their job, they undergo constant structural changes, transitioning from one state to another in a very complex process. This is what scientists call protein dynamics.


One advantage that this antenna of supersmall DNA has over other analytical techniques is that it is able to capture the status of very short-lived proteins. While researching, the team managed to test their antennae with three different protein models - streptavidin, alkaline phosphatase, and Protein G.


"For example, we were able to detect, in real time and for the first time, the function of the enzyme alkaline phosphatase with a variety of biological molecules and drugs," said chemist Scott Harroun, of UdeM.


"This enzyme has been implicated in many diseases, including various cancers and intestinal inflammation."


Researchers are now looking for ways to create commercial startups so that nanoantenna technology can be practically packaged and used by other people, be it pharmaceutical organizations or other research teams.


"Perhaps what excites us most is the realization that many laboratories around the world, equipped with conventional spectrofluorometers, can easily use these nanoantennas to study their favorite proteins, such as identifying new drugs or developing new nanotechnology," said Vallée-Belisle. .


The research has been published in the journal Nature Methods.

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