Japanese biophysicists have just developed a way to create and manipulate DNA systems shaped capsules. They will facilitate the development of artificial molecular systems. The study is the result of a collaboration between Yusuke Sato, researcher at Tohoku University, and Masahiro Takinoue, from the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
The nanostructures are objects of molecular and microscopic size. There are different forms of nanostructures depending on their use and interaction with other objects. Among these are the surfaces of nanotextures, the nanotubes and the spherical nanoparticles. Likewise, the latter are subdivided into different shapes.
A breakthrough encouraging the development of artificial molecular systems
To create the capsules, the biophysicists had to develop 2 types of DNA nanostructures. Each structure was created using 3 single-stranded DNA molecules, with sticky pieces at the end. Due to the differences in DNA sequences, only similar nanostructures stuck together, when the 2 structures were mixed.
Sato and Takinoue then combined the nanostructures in a solution of a oily mixture charged and uncharged molecules. The mixture was then heated and cooled before being analyzed under a microscope.
The researchers found the formation of water droplets in oil. DNA nanostructures have accumulated at the water-oil interface. The structures came together in different types of patterns shaped patches, which mainly depend on the concentration of each relative to the other.
Additionally, the team found that the DNA nanostructures clustered together homogeneously, when additional X-shaped DNA nanostructures were added to the mix to link the 2 types. The experience works just as well when placed inside lipid vesicles. The researchers also managed to separate the DNA capsules from the water-in-oil droplets and vesicles, without losing their capsule form. Finally, Sato and Takinoue were able to open the capsules and degrade them using a specific enzyme.
The future of DNA nanostructure capsules
These capsules could carry substances to target organs, only releasing their load when exposed to specific enzymes. Likewise, they could become mobile thanks to DNA nanostructures that can be manipulated to change the shape of the capsule.
The 2 Japanese scientists believe that functional capsules are built from DNA, like the one the team just designed. This could develop capsular structures for the study of artificial cells and molecular robotics.